Sun, Sep 21, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chinese spouses protest ID issue

AMENDMENT A legal revision to change the length of time Chinese spouses must wait for identification cards from eight to 11 years has been vehemently opposed

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese spouses demonstrate at the CKS Memorial Hall yesterday over government plans to extend the period Chinese spouses have to wait before they can receive identity cards from eight to 11 years.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The government will not back down from legal revisions which would extend the length of time Chinese spouses must wait to get Republic of China identification cards from eight to 11 years, despite hundreds of Chinese spouses protesting against the measure yesterday.

About 500 Chinese spouses gathered at the CKS Memorial Hall to demand withdrawal of proposed 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).

The amendments to the statute are a priority measure for this legislative session.

Last year, the Cross-Strait Marriage Harmony Promotion Association, which organized yesterday's protesters, solicited wide support from lawmakers not to pass the amendment affecting the identification cards issue.

However, a senior official at the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday said that lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties were on the verge of reaching a consensus to pass the amendment.

"The legislature is reviewing the amendment. Let the focus of the issue shift from the Chinese spouses' appeal to the ongoing administrative and lawmaking procedures of the matter," said MAC Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通).

"The amendment is part of the construction of the country's entire immigration policy," Chen said.

Under the current law, other foreign spouses are eligible to apply for identification cards one year after they obtain right of abode in Taiwan.

In contrast, Chinese spouses, after they get right of abode, have to wait for five years to be qualified to apply for identification cards.

Zhao Meiling (趙梅玲), a 40-year-old Chinese woman married to a 60-year-old Taiwanese man, joined yesterday's protest after watching the news on TV. She said the amendment was very unfair.

Zhao has been in Taiwan for four years and still does not have right of abode. As a result, she is not allowed to work in Taiwan. "This has caused a financial burden to my family," she complained.

She also pointed out that, in cross-strait marriages, Chinese spouses have to return to China every six months in the first two years of marriage.

After two years, they do not have to take the compulsory trips but usually have to live without right of abode for another four years. Therefore, it often takes six years for them to obtain right of abode and the right to work, she said.

"It is a tragedy we are married to Taiwanese men. We want our human rights to be respected. If other foreign spouses were treated in the same way we are, we would have nothing to say. But we are apparently treated differently," she said.

Another Chinese woman, who only wanted to be known by her surname Liu, brought her 7-year-old son to the protest. She had been in Taiwan for seven years and her husband died the first year she came here.

"I want to bring my mother to Taiwan to help look after my son. But the government said applications to bring our relatives here have been suspended since the SARS outbreak. I don't know when the applications will reopen," Liu said.

Liu, now working as a cleaner, said her son was often left alone when she worked. She already has obtained her identification card but still said the amendment was unfair.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) expressed strong opposition to the MAC's revoking of the yearly quota ceiling for Chinese spouses' applications for right of abode.

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