Taipei-The Chinese Overseas Flagship (COF) in Taiwan, one of two Chinese-language learning facilities funded by the United States Department of Defense currently operating in Asia, officially opened at National Taiwan University (NTU) on Monday.
The new learning center currently has 22 U.S. students who are getting scholarships of more than US$10,000 a year, said Chao Der-lin (???), director of the COF center in Taiwan, at the opening ceremony.
Although the program is fully funded by the U.S. government, its graduates are free to choose their career, she said.
The COF Taiwan center, which was established on June 3 and received its first batch of students in September, is the second such center in Asia after the Nanjing Center in China.
The program originally had a center in Beijing, but the COF headquarters in the U.S. decided to close it earlier this year, Chao said.
Chao is also the director of Chinese Flagship center of Hunt College in New York, one of the 12 U.S. tertiary schools that comprise the Chinese Flagship and partner with NTU to run the Taiwan center.
The COF is part of a bigger language flagship program that also includes instruction in other major languages such as Arabic, Hindi, Korean and Russian under the U.S.'s National Security Education Program (NSEP).
The NSEP is aimed at producing professionals who command a superior level of proficiency in languages critical to U.S. competitiveness and security, according to the NSEP's Language Flagship website.
The establishment of the COF Taiwan center reflects an interest by the U.S. side in having their future professionals gain a more comprehensive and objective view of the Chinese world, according to NTU.
The 22 U.S. students have all completed four-year Chinese language courses at their respective universities and colleges, and are currently in their "capstone year" in Taiwan to immerse themselves in academic and professional environments, according to a COF leaflet.
Aside from studying language and subjects related to their field of interest at NTU, the students will also be able to become familiar with Chinese culture and practices and intern at Taiwanese businesses and organizations, it said.
Brent Christensen (???), the director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said at the ceremony that Taiwan is a good place to learn Chinese due to its safe environment, hospitable people and diverse culture.
Christensen encouraged the U.S. students to make the most out of their 10-month stay in Taiwan, recalling his experience of Taiwan being his first overseas assignment and learning many things in Taiwan at the time that helped his career.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hsu Szu-chien (???) of Taiwan called the COF Taiwan Center a milestone of U.S.-Taiwan educational cooperation that symbolized strong Taiwan-U.S. relations.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel