Harvard University will relocate its intensive summer language program to Taiwan from China.
The move, which comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, will be implemented next summer, according to The Associated Press.
Through Harvard's program, about 60 students will complete eight weeks of language coursework at National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei, the university confirmed to the AP.
Harvard’s student paper, The Crimson, reported that the decision to relocate was “due to a perceived lack of friendliness" from the previous host school in Beijing.
The paper reported that Harvard's program “would typically host a small party to celebrate the Fourth of July, during which students and faculty would eat pizza and sing the national anthem,” but Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), which served as the host university, said it could not host the event in 2019.
The director of the Harvard program, Jennifer L. Liu, told the paper that other logistics were also factored into the ultimate decision to move the program to Taiwan instead.
“BLCU did not provide a single dorm for all the students, instead requiring the program split the students into two different dorms of different quality, or to find a hotel that could keep their students together,” Liu said.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, told AP that he was not familiar with the issues the Harvard program faced.
“China always welcomes international students to study in China, attaches great importance to protection of their legitimate rights and interests, and proactively responds to the students’ reasonable concerns and appeals," Lijian said.
NTU said Tuesday it had been discussing the move with Harvard since 2019, adding that the program was suspended in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We hope to lay a solid Chinese foundation for the outstanding Harvard students in NTU’s free academic atmosphere,” the university said in a statement to the AP
Harvard students will be provided the opportunity to explore Taiwan’s night markets, Yangming mountain and the National Palace Museum, the news service noted.
Tensions between China and Taiwan have become increasingly strained in recent weeks. The self-ruled island said earlier this month that it was preparing for a potential war with China, which claims that Taiwan is part of its territory.
China also sent 52 military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in an escalation of aggressive military activity.