I blogged about legal changes in regard to a growing number of immigrant spouses in Taiwan. This is interesting, because Mainland Chinese spouses are not considered immigrants/foreigners due to the political history between China and Taiwan.
I believe this issue should be up to the Taiwanese people. They can have a referendum on this as it has to do with the islands security, but also a significant change in society.
“Our relations with China have all along been different from our relations with other countries,” said Liu Te-Shun, vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, the Taiwan government office in charge of policies toward China.
“Taiwan is already densely populated,” Liu said. “The mainland spouses’ numbers are very high, we need time to digest this trend, so we can’t treat them the same as foreign spouses.”
Liu and other officials argue that many mainlanders marry not for love, but for the economic opportunities they think they can find in Taiwan. They also cite the high rate of divorce. However, critics note that the divorce rate for marriages involving mainlanders is nearly identical to the general divorce rate in Taiwan.
“The real reason is that the authorities don’t want more Chinese brides to come to Taiwan,” said an editorial in The China Post, a Taipei newspaper.
Although some academics, news media and immigration officials are beginning to question whether Taiwan should continue discriminatory policies against mainlanders, many people in Taiwan favor restricting the influx, and maintaining limits on political rights, as a way of defending the island against China, which has targeted hundreds of missiles at Taiwan and has not ruled out the use of military force to prevent formal independence.
“China and Taiwan have long had political mistrust and hostility, so some Taiwanese worry that Chinese brides coming here may have a problem with loyalty,” said Chao Chien-Min, a political scientist and specialist in cross-strait relations at the National Chengchi University in Taipei.
“They worry that mainland spouses have a strong Chinese identity and may want Taiwan to unify with China,” Chao said.
One concern has been mainland spouses’ potential political effect if more of them gain the right to vote.
In 2002 and 2003, the legislature considered lengthening the minimum number of years for mainland-born spouses to secure a Taiwan identity card to 11 years from 8. About 150 spouses staged a rare street protest. The proposal did not pass.
In 2006, the government cracked down on matchmaking agencies, which broker many mainland-Taiwan marriages, banning any from running for profit, which reduced their numbers from 900 to 300.
There have been no formal studies of mainland spouses’ political views or how they might vote, but many officials and academics believe most favor closer ties with China and would therefore probably vote for the opposition Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, which is open to eventual reunification, rather than for the governing Democratic Progressive Party, which is pro-independence.
“I think they believe Taiwan is a part of China – it’s the common view of people from China,” said Chu Heng-Huey, head of the law and politics section of the Mainland Affairs Council. “And often at meetings I have with them, they say things that demonstrate this, like, ‘We’re all Chinese people, why put so many restrictions on us?’ ”
But other experts said that while mainland spouses may initially favor unification, over time many change their views. Many spouses soon come to appreciate the positive aspects of Taiwan: its democratic politics, social welfare system and more equitable society.
Except for those whose husbands have businesses in China, most wives appear to prefer living in Taiwan, in part because they think the education system is better for their children.
Still, most spouses want to see stronger relations with mainland China – always a sensitive issue in Taiwan – and continue to have deep feelings for China, Ko and others said.
Their children might also have a stronger affinity for China, Ko said, compared with other children from Taiwan who are taken to Europe or Japan on holidays rather than the Chinese mainland. Many of the spouses return to China each year and take their Taiwanese families with them, especially during the Chinese Lunar New Year.
“They could potentially pull the two sides together,” she said. “They feel they are both Chinese and Taiwanese. They don’t want China to invade, but they also don’t want Taiwan to be formally independent.
“And that’s why some people don’t like them.”