Wed, Mar 06, 2002 - Page 3 News List

China quiets cross-strait wedding bells

RED TAPE RUN AMUCK The rejection of Taiwan-issued `non-impediment to marriage' documents by Chinese notary publics due to their Republic of China seal has postponed the bliss of four couples

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Four certificates of non-impediment to marriage issued by notary publics in Taiwan have been rejected by Chinese associations of notary publics for bearing the ROC seal, according to a Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) official yesterday.

The certificates are required under Chinese law for Taiwan citizens wishing to marry Chinese citizens.

The SEF issued a press release late Monday night in which it stated that it had received reports from "several Taiwanese citizens" that the associations of notary publics had rejected their certificates.

The director of the SEF's department of legal affairs, Lin Su-ming (林淑敏), confirmed yesterday that it had received four reports from members of the public since last Friday.

Lin also told the Taipei Times that the SEF had received confirmation from China that the reports were true.

"This is the first time our certificates have been rejected for this reason," Lin said.

Lin said that since agreement was reached on cross-strait notarization procedures (兩岸公證書使用查證協議) at the Koo-Wang Talks (辜汪會談) in 1993, notarizations usually bear the seal of the ROC and that there had been no problems with them before.

Under the agreement, notarized documents must comply "with the appropriate document format," although that format is not defined.

According to Lin, however, the common practice is for notarized documents to carry the national seal of the country of origin.

The SEF expressed its regret over the turn of events, saying, "The incidents create obstacles for the exchanges of documents across the Strait."

Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) told the Taipei Times that the MAC hoped the Chinese side would "uphold the rights of the people on both sides of the Strait and respect the agreements made by the two sides."

According to Lin, two of the cases occurred in Shandong Province and two in Hunan Province.

Lin, however, said that the SEF had made inquiries with notary public associations in other provinces in China and found no objection to the ROC seal.

"Although these four cases appear to be isolated cases, we are concerned about how this could happen and are trying to understand the reason behind them."

As private exchanges across the Strait have proliferated, demand for the verification of documents has grown.

According to the SEF, 8,338 notarizations were issued in Taiwan and sent to China in 1993, a figure which multiplied almost eight-fold to 64,868 last year.

Over 260,000 documents were sent to China between 1993 and last year.

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