Fri, Oct 10, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers finally approve changes to cross-strait law

LONG TIME COMING The amendments to the statute were approved after lawmakers agreed to leave rules unchanged on Chinese spouses applying for ID cards

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers approved long-awaited amendments to the Statute Governing the Relations between the People of Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) yesterday after they overcame disagreements over how long Chinese spouses should wait before they can apply for an ID card.

"The passage of the amendments modernizes legal regulations for civilian exchanges between Taiwan and China," Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said.

"Obviously this will strengthen the government's ability to manage cross-strait development," she said.

The pan-blue-dominated Legislative Yuan finalized the legislative review yesterday evening, one year after the revisions were first presented to the legislature.

They agreed to leave at eight years the amount of time Chinese spouses must wait to apply for an ID card. The amendments also allow Chinese universities to recruit students in Taiwan and gives the government 18 months to complete negotiations with China on direct cross-strait transportation links.

The new law also allows the government to appoint civilian organizations to negotiate direct links on its behalf.

Despite the backing of some Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers, the 12-member Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus failed to win votes against any of the amendments.

The TSU members criticized the result as "majority violence" and left the legislature before lawmakers had finished the second reading.

"We are very disappointed about the outcome, that the three major parties decided to trade the interests and national security of Taiwan," TSU legislative leader Chien Lin Whei-jun (錢林慧君) said.

"We feel extremely worried about relaxing the rules on the naturalization of Chinese spouses after inspecting the Bureau of Immigration this morning," Chien Lin said.

When Chien Lin and her TSU colleagues visited the immigration bureau yesterday a Chinese national told an immigration official that he had faked his marriage to a Taiwanese national to attain residency here.

"How can you believe that the increasing numbers of Chinese immigrants, with perhaps several million being granted legal residency here in the next decade, will not cause social pressures and security concerns to the country, since a great number of them have applied for residency through dishonest means?" Chien Lin said.

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