Wed, Oct 01, 2003 - Page 1 News List

TSU puts brakes on cross-strait legal amendments

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers failed to conclude their review of amendments to the Statute Governing the Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) yesterday due to a last-minute objection by Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers.

The review, which has been pending for three legislative sessions, was halted when TSU legislators refused to sign a cross-party agreement yesterday evening.

The TSU caucus rejected the agreement due to a concession made by Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during the inter-party negotiations.

Tsai accepted the opposition parties' demand that the amount of time Chinese spouses must wait to apply for Republic of China citizenship be frozen. The MAC had planned to raise the amount of time from eight years to 11.

Tsai's concession was seen as a breakthrough in negotiations.

The TSU's opposition set the stage for a showdown at today's assembly, when lawmakers vote on changes to the statute.

The MAC had hoped to extend the citizenship requirement to help the nation cope with the influx of Chinese spouses amid worries in the pan-green camp that many of the spouses entered the country through the use of fake marriages or are engaged in espionage.

As of August, 43,353 Chinese nationals had obtained legal residency here because of their relation to Taiwanese spouses. Another 78,945 Chinese applicants were waiting to obtain ROC citizenship in accordance with the current cross-strait statute.

"The MAC accepts the negotiation result and will work for mapping out auxiliary measures to cope with the conclusion," Tsai said yesterday morning.

In the negotiations, opposition lawmakers compromised on rules for direct transportation.

Eager to push for comprehensive implementation of direct transportation links, officials with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) insisted that the government lift the ban on direct flights across the Taiwan Strait.

The proposal met resistance from the MAC, which said full direct links cannot be realized without government-to-government talks.

The opposition parties said yesterday the government could retain the rule that direct links be conducted only by permission. This condition would last for one and a half years while the government develops plans for direct transportation links.

The government must seek the legislature's approval for another extension of the rule if direct links go nowhere due to the stalemate in cross-strait negotiations.

Besides a vote on the cross-strait amendments, the legislature will today review revisions to the Judicial Yuan Organic Law (司法院組織法) and amendments to the President and Vice President Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法).

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