TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An email from the English teaching website TutorABC surfaced on Saturday (Nov. 2), sent in response to the resignation of an instructor who refused to conform to new, draconian "one China" regulations for staff in Taiwan, giving a strong indication of the firm's new Chinese masters.
An American English teacher based in Taiwan told Taiwan News that when she was first hired by TutorABC, she received an email about the new policies going into effect Nov. 1. She was informed that although tutors that work for them must live outside of China, they must follow the laws of the communist country.
She was stated that it is now company policy to check exit-entry travel stamps in the tutors' passports to comply with the Chinese government. She said she contacted the person that recruited her and told her that she lives in Taiwan and did not think it was necessary to comply with the new regulations since she does, in fact, not live in China.
The instructor was also shown a training video that outlined several other strict new rules, such as the fact that teachers are not allowed to ask where the students are from. Disturbed by both the requirement allowing the Chinese government to access her travel documents and the restrictions on student interaction, she informed the company that should would resign immediately.
On Saturday, she uploaded to Facebook a screenshot of an email sent to her by a representative from the company's parent firm, Shanghai-based iTutorGroup. In the email, she was informed that her account had been terminated and removed from her profile.
The email then emphasized that "We are a Chinese company, Taiwan is part of China." Ironically for an English education firm, the company representative then writes in poorly constructed English, "There is no necessary to argue about the political issue, we share different standpoint."
The email then oddly thanks her "again" for teaching with the company for "a while," although no thanks had been offered previously in the document. It then abruptly ends with a curt "Good luck."
After the screenshot quickly went viral on Facebook, many netizens said that regardless of the political nature of the content, the English itself was remarkably poor. Others pointed out that if Taiwan is supposedly part of China, "Why can't foreigners living in China become teachers for the iTutorGroup, but foreigners living in Taiwan can?"
Some foreign netizens pointed out that in the country classification on Facebook and other internet platforms, Taiwan is listed separately from China. Others astutely observed that Taiwan has its own passport, currency, flag, legal system, military, diplomatic allies, and democratically elected government, clearly making it a separate country from China.
The consensus in the comments was that Taiwan is indeed a separate country from China but that iTutorGroup has clearly become a Chinese corporation beholden to the Chinese Communist Party.
iTutorGroup was founded in Taiwan in 1998, while TutorABC was launched in Taiwan in 2004 before eventually being acquired by the former. In July of this year, China's Ping An Insurance Group purchased shares in iTutorGroup, but the corporation dismissed news that it was being taken over by the Chinese company as a "rumor."
However, in September of this year, iTutorGroup's Taiwanese CEO and founder, Dr. Eric Yang (楊正大) was replaced with a Chinese national identified as Xu Ning (徐寧). Although no formal announcement of the Ping An's apparent acquisition was made, the firm now lists iTutorGroup as one of its subsidiaries.