According to a Liberty Times report on Oct. 18, 72 arts students and six arts teachers from Tongsiao Junior High School, along with 22 students, three teachers and seven parents from the Tongsiao Elementary School baseball and softball teams in Miaoli County, visited Pingtan Island in China’s Fujian Province for exchanges between Oct. 10 and 14.

The visit was ostensibly sponsored by Weihsin Energy, which is owned by China-based Taiwanese businessman Ke Lin-hung (柯林宏), who is originally from Miaoli County. Each student paid only NT$1,000 for the trip. However, the event was organized and funded by the Chinese state-run Fujian Provincial Service Center for Cross-strait Social Organizations. Ke simply acted as intermediary.

The event was presented as a field trip and sports exchange, but the purpose was solely for the Taiwanese students to visit Pingtan. Why did the service center choose Pingtan as the site for educational exchanges?

As the center’s official Web site states, the center was established to explore a new model for exchanges and cooperation between social organizations on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, to create a new platform for such organizations’ joint development, to turn it into an experimental free-trade zone and to better serve such organizations as they jointly construct a common homeland across the Taiwan Strait.

It is easy to see that the center is a united front agency aimed at belittling Taiwan and that Pingtan follows China’s political vision of a “shared homeland across the Taiwan Strait” and an economic zone on the west side of the Taiwan Strait. The purpose of the island is to create an experimental “united front” zone designed to strengthen cross-strait exchange and cooperation.

In March, Ke made the same offer to Rihnan Junior High School in Taichung, of which he is an alumnus. Parents of students at the school later received registration forms for educational exchanges with Fujian Province. The registration fee was also NT$1,000, and all other expenses would be covered by Ke.

This summer, Ke contacted the track and field teams of Rihnan and Shalu Junior High School and Lishin Junior High School in Taichung. Sponsored by the Weitai Enterprise, also owned by Ke, the sports teams visited Pingtan for training. It seems that Ke is systematically working to establish contacts along the Miaoli and Taichung coastline.

On March 19, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) presided over a symposium for teachers of Chinese ideological and political theory in Beijing, demanding that they train “generation after generation” of students to support the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, beginning at an early age.

It is easy for China to brainwash its own youth, but to brainwash Taiwanese, it needs help to cross the natural barrier of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China are the best helpers, and perhaps they even enjoy certain tax exemptions if they perform well. If they really want to give something back to Taiwan, they would do better to offer a subsidy of NT$1,000 to each student for a trip around Taiwan. Why does Ke always have students visit Pingtan, an experimental “united front” zone?

It seems Ke has already developed a complete “standard operating procedure” for educational “united front” work. Which school would next be lured by China’s “united front” project? Would the Ministry of Education intervene, or would it sit back and watch as schools comply with this educational “united front” work?