Thu, Mar 16, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Government to end interviews of Chinese spouses

LAX?officials feel that the immigration interviews, originally intended to weed out undersirables, are bad for the nation's image, and they will be abolished come June

By Luo Tian-pin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The system of interviewing Chinese spouses at immigration points around the nation is to undergo major reform, according to a high-ranking government official.

The reform is intended to bring Taiwan in line with international practice, to conform to current requirements and also to rid Taiwan of the "police state" image, said the official, who wished to remain anonymous.

As of June, the practice of interviewing Chinese spouses at Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport and Hsiaokang International Airport in Kaohsiung, as well as on Kinmen and Matsu islands, will be abolished.

The reforms will mean that more than 20,000 Chinese spouses with immigration permits will be allowed into the nation every year without having to go through any interviews, the official said.

Special units

Once inside Taiwan, they may be asked to attend interviews by special units, which will be set up in each city and county around the nation by the newly-established Immigration Office.

This would make Taiwan's policy similar to that used in Western countries such as the US.

Anyone suspected of coming into the country under false pretenses will face deportation.

According to the government official, the immigration offices will officially commence operations in May or June, and procedures will be adjusted in stages, with the abolishment of the interviews taking place in the first wave of adjustments.

Any procedural changes will be made with the consensus of the central government, the Mainland Affairs Council, the National Security Bureau and other government bodies, he said.

The government initiated the practice of interviewing Chinese spouses in September 2003 in response to the large number of Chinese women who entered the country under the pretence of getting married, but who actually sought employment, with many apparently ending up working in the sex industry.

According to official statistics, more than 108,000 people were interviewed from the time the interviews started until Feb. 17. More than 3,700 of those interviewed were deported because of irregularities in their application.

Deterrent

The government believes that the interviews were an effective deterrent against both Chinese trying to enter Taiwan under false pretenses as well as human smuggling rings, while ensuring those who genuinely wanted to get married were allowed to do so, the official said.

However, frequent outbursts and arguments at immigration points around Taiwan were thought to be giving foreign tourists the wrong impression, making them think that Taiwan was a "police state," the official said.

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