Page last updated at 00:19 GMT, Saturday, 1 August 2009 01:19 UK

Taiwan curbs foreign bride firms

A law is coming into effect in Taiwan to ban commercial firms from arranging international marriages.

Only non profit-making organisations are now allowed to do so, according to Taiwan's government.

Many Taiwanese men travel to China and South East Asian countries, especially Vietnam and Indonesia, to find brides.

They say they have to do so because Taiwanese women are putting careers ahead of marriage, delaying getting married or not marrying at all.

The BBC's Cindy Sui, in the Taiwanese capital Taipei, says matchmaking agencies have developed a booming business, charging men as much as $9,000 to help them find a wife.

But Taiwan's government has decided to put a stop to this.

The national immigration agency says the new law has been brought in because many of the cross-border marriages are based on "weak foundations".


The men are shown photo albums or videos of the women, they pick the one they want and after only one trip to see the woman, they marry her, sometimes on the spot.

Our correspondent says that many of the women agree because they are motivated by the chance to live and work in Taiwan and send money home.

Women's groups in Taiwan have complained that this amounts to buying and selling partners.

Some of the "brides" arrive in Taiwan after faking a marriage, and go on to work as prostitutes.

To preserve Taiwan's image and ensure marriages are treated as a serious matter not as a business, the government says from now on companies can only charge their customers for the air fare, hotel expenses and administrative costs.

Violators will be fined up to $30,000.

The agencies will also be strongly advised to encourage both parties to get to know each other better.

There are more than 400,000 foreign spouses, mostly women, in Taiwan, with about 20,000 new transnational marriages registered each year.

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