Page last updated at 06:24 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

Taiwan warms to Chinese spouses

By Cindy Sui
BBC News, Taipei

China-born women in Taiwan during hold a protest rally. File photo
Many Chinese spouses in Taiwan say the current rules are discriminatory

Taiwan's government plans to ease restrictions imposed on spouses, mostly wives, from mainland China married to Taiwanese citizens.

Current legislation prevents the mainlanders from working until at least two years after arriving.

They have to wait eight years before they are entitled to apply for permanent residence.

The rules for spouses of other nationalities are much more lenient, and many felt the changes are overdue.

Under the proposed changes, mainland Chinese spouses will be able to work within weeks of arriving, just like other foreign spouses.

They will be able to qualify for permanent residency and voting rights in six years, instead of eight.

They can also sponsor children from a previous marriage to come here.


To the more than 250,000 Chinese spouses in Taiwan, the government's plan to relax restrictions is long overdue.


The spouses, who share the same language and culture as Taiwanese people, have argued that the rules are discriminatory.

They say they leave them dependent on their Taiwanese spouse.

Some suffer from domestic violence, but are afraid to get a divorce because they could be deported.

The rules were imposed during the long era of tense relations between China and Taiwan, which is seen by Beijing as a renegade province.

Previous governments in Taipei insisted the restrictions were necessary due to political tensions with China, fake marriages and the island's inability to handle an influx of Chinese immigrants.

A new government administration this year has built warmer ties with China.

However, the spouses argue the changes do not go far enough.

Other foreign spouses only have to wait four years, not six, to gain permanent residence.

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