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United Daily News: Recognize the potential of new residents
Central News Agency
2014-08-19 11:23 AM
The number of non-Taiwanese spouses in Taiwan and their offspring has reached 710,000, surpassing indigenous people as the country's fourth largest population group. The majority of these new residents are from China, but one-third are from Southeast Asian countries, mainly Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. At the same time, approximately 500,000 foreign workers from Southeast Asia are currently working in Taiwan. These new residents and migrant workers can serve as highly useful resources in Taiwan's efforts to promote diplomacy with Southeast Asian countries. If the children from these cross-cultural marriages are encouraged to learn the native languages of their mothers and maintain a close bond with their mothers' home countries, they can become important forces for Taiwan in penetrating emerging Southeast Asian markets. Unfortunately, the government and people in Taiwan have so far not fully recognized the linguistic and cultural advantages of this group of new residents. Many families with spouses from Southeast Asia do not encourage and even resist the use of the mother's native language. A mechanism is also lacking in the education system to promote mother-tongue learning among second-generation new residents. In the past, the government invested considerable resources to encourage ethnic Chinese students from Southeast Asia to study in Taiwan. Many of these graduates later returned to their home countries and became important pro-Taiwan advocates. Taiwan should learn from this past policy and formulate a national strategy on how to make good use of the potential of this new population group. (Editorial abstract -- Aug. 19, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)
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