Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: A match made in Hell

On Monday, New Party Taipei City Councilor Wang Yu-cheng (王育誠) released a survey showing that less than 20 percent of elderly Taiwanese men married to Chinese women are living with their wives. A large number of Chinese brides did not come to Taiwan after marriage, while others disappeared and still others were involved in fake marriages. Wang raised suspicions that the Chinese brides are probably after the money of the elderly Taiwanese men.

According to the survey, only 18 percent of such couples are living together while 35 percent are already married, but not living together. For 17 percent of couples, the bride never came to Taiwan, while for 15 percent the bride simply disappeared. For 12 percent, the bride disappeared after the husband died. The figures reveal serious problems in the married lives of elderly Taiwanese and their Chinese brides.

Ever since the Taiwanese government eased restrictions on its citizens visiting their relatives in China, more than 100,000 Chinese women have moved to Taiwan. A large number of them went through legal matchmaking institutions while others concealed their purposes under fake marriages, and still others were smuggled to Taiwan by snakeheads and then made a living by engaging in illegal prostitution. This brought with it numerous social and law enforcement problems such as drug trafficking, drug abuse, contagious diseases and kidnappings. Taiwan's media report such crimes on a daily basis. The impact on Taiwanese society's stability is considerable.

Especially worrying is the possibility that there may be spies among those Chinese women entering Taiwan legally or illegally. They may engage in sabotage and instigation. This inevitably poses a big threat to Taiwan's national security. Such suspicions are not groundless. Recently, university graduates, sons and daughters of high-level communist cadres and members of the Communist Youth League were found among illegal immigrants from China.

In fact, the statistics released by Wang involve only elderly Taiwanese. The situation could be much worse if we add the figures for other age brackets. Only a small minority of such cross-strait marriages have been smooth. They are an exception rather than the rule, at least for now. One possible reason for this is that, despite their linguistic proximity, the peoples on the two sides have become vastly different in their thinking, culture, educational backgrounds and habits after almost a century apart following the Japanese takeover of Taiwan in 1895. On top of this comes the continuous interference of political factors, which makes it harder for Chinese brides to quickly assimilate into Taiwanese society.

Besides, most Chinese and Southeast Asian brides are married to low-income Taiwanese families. A portion of such marriages may have been legal and fulfilling, but their children have become a disadvantaged a group from the very outset in terms of education and work conditions, posing a challenge to the government in its efforts to improve public education and cultural quality.

We were happy to see that the government started interviewing would-be Chinese brides last month. However, the policy has come far too late, because there are already 100,000 Chinese brides in Taiwan. The government has the responsibility to keep track of their livelihood and provide necessary help. It should also investigate illegal activities, especially human smuggling, so that the situation may not further spin out of control and cause a greater social disaster for Taiwan.

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