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Eight students from New Southbound Policy countries missing in Taiwan

The disappearances took place over a span of two years since the program started

Eight New Southbound Policy students have disappeared over the past two years (photo by Y.C. Ku)

Eight New Southbound Policy students have disappeared over the past two years (photo by Y.C. Ku) (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Following the Tourism Bureau’s confirmation of reports that a total of 152 Vietnamese out of 153 who arrived with tour groups in Kaohsiung last week went missing, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said Wednesday that eight students with New Southbound Policy programs had also been out of reach.

Since taking over in May 2016, the current administration has been emphasizing closer ties and exchanges with the countries of South and Southeast Asia, including as a source for tourists and people-to-people exchanges.

The international study programs under the New Southbound Policy had seen eight students disappear over the past two years, with their schools reporting the fact to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the National Immigration Agency, the Central News Agency reported.

The current academic year of the program had resulted in 2,494 foreign students coming to Taiwan, MOE data showed. Short-term technical courses had recruited 182 students, and professional technical programs 255 foreign students, according to the ministry.

Officials said the program would also help the students find opportunities such as internships, but if they ran away and took illegal jobs, they might be extradited. The students might be living at dormitories, but if they wanted to escape, it was difficult to prevent them from doing so, CNA reported.

It was not immediately which countries the eight missing students were from and at which schools they had been studying.