Taiwan urged to set up Mandarin-language center in Turkey

Taipei, April 6 (CNA) Taiwan should set up a cultural center in Turkey to teach Mandarin Chinese and promote cultural exchanges and mutual understanding, said former Education Minister Ovid Tzeng in a speech Saturday. Following the establishment of a Mandarin language center in India in 2011, the Ministry of Education should mull the possibility of setting up a similar cultural center in Turkey, an important emerging country in the Middle East, Tzeng said. "We hope to expand the reach of the Chinese language to more parts of the world," Tzeng said in the speech organized by the Taipei-based Formosa Institute. Such a center will help promote Taiwanese culture in Turkey and help draw more people to Taiwan to learn how it preserves its historical heritage, he said. "This kind of exchange is necessary and is also a way of exporting culture and creativity," he told CNA on the sidelines of the event. Tzeng, now a distinguished research fellow at Academia Sinica, said he will bring up the issue with education officials. The Ministry of Culture floated a similar concept in October 2012, contending that opening a cultural center in Turkey would advance Taiwan's cultural exchanges with the Islamic world. Taiwan has relied greatly on networks with the United States and Europe in the past, and the ministry was hoping to build more connections with Latin America and the Islamic world, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai said at the time. Asked about the Culture Ministry's vision, Tzeng said the center he was proposing would focus more on the teaching of Mandarin. In his speech, Tzeng also touched on globalization, saying that Taiwan needed to make more of an effort in many areas if it wanted to be part of the trend. Taiwan, for example, has to become more open toward foreign talent by improving benefits for foreigners, he argued. (By Elaine Hou)