Taipei, The severing of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and El Salvador will affect dozens of Salvadorans on exchange programs in Taiwan, and their fate will be decided by Taiwan's foreign affairs authorities.
There are six military students and command and staff officers from El Salvador in Taiwan and six Taiwanese military personnel in El Salvador on a personnel exchange program between the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and its Salvadoran counterpart, MND spokesman Chen Chung-ji (???) said Tuesday.
Their future will be decided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chen said, noting that the MND regretted to see the severing of ties, which had enabled military exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and El Salvador for decades.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (???) announced Tuesday that Taiwan is cutting diplomatic relations with El Salvador after the Central American nation asked Taiwan for an "astronomical sum" of financial assistance for a port development project.
Wu said Taiwan will halt all bilateral cooperative projects, cut all assistance to the former ally, and pull out its diplomatic staff and technical missions from the country that has had ties with the Republic of China since 1933.
In the wake of the announcement, the Ministry of Education (MOE) released statistics showing there were a total of 195 Salvadoran students studying in Taiwan in 2017, including 28 recipients of the Taiwan Scholarship provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
It's up to MOFA to determine whether or not it will continue to issue the scholarships to the Salvadoran students, the MOE said in a statement.
To those who want to continue their studies in Taiwan, the MOE will ask the schools concerned to offer the students the necessary guidance and assistance based on their regulations, the statement said.
In a speech to the nation announcing his country's shift in allegiance to Beijing, El Salvador President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said Salvadoran students in Taiwan would be moved to China in the coming days to ensure their opportunities to study.
Liu Kuo-wei (???), vice president for international affairs at Ming Chuan University, told CNA that there were 11 Salvadoran students graduating from the university this year.
Starting from the beginning of a new academic year in September, the school will have 20 students from El Salvador, including five freshmen, and 17 of the 20 students are recipients of government scholarships, Liu said.
Ming Chuan will wait for instructions from the MOFA, MOE and the El Salvador government before making arrangements for the students, Liu said, but he stressed Ming Chuan will try its best to keep the students, describing them as "important assets of the school."
The Foreign Ministry will also have to decide the fate of 10 Salvadorans doing vocational training in Taiwan under a Ministry of Labor (MOL) cooperation program with Latin American allies.
The Salvadorans are being trained in carpentry, information technology and mapping at the Taichung-Changhua-Nantou Regional Branch of the MOL's Workforce Development Agency, said Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun (???), and their training will not conclude until the end of October.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced it will terminate all medical treatment programs in El Salvador, where Taiwan has offered medical aid for 10 years.
El Salvador is the fifth diplomatic ally to switch its loyalty from Taiwan to China since Tsai Ing-wen (???) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016, often because of promises of huge financial assistance packages or loans from Beijing.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel