Sat, Dec 13, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Activists not happy with amendment

DISCRIMINATION Critics said Chinese spouses would still be at a disadvantage under the proposed changes to a key statute that governs cross-strait marriages

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Several non-governmental organizations yesterday criticized a Cabinet-approved amendment that would ease restrictions on Chinese spouses, saying it still did not give these new immigrants the same rights as other foreign spouses.<p>

“There is a gap between our expectations and the result, “ said Chung Jin-ming, president of an alliance that promotes marriage between Taiwanese and Chinese.

He urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to fulfill his campaign promise to treat Chinese nationals the same as other foreign spouses.

“That’s our bottom line,” Chung said.

The Cabinet on Thursday approved a draft amendment to the Statute Governing Relations Between People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例), shortening the time it takes Chinese spouses to qualify for a Republic of China (ROC) identity card.

The draft amendment will be sent to the legislature for review. If approved, it will take Chinese immigrants six years, instead of the current eight, to qualify for an identity card.

It only takes four years to get an identity card for other foreign spouses, mostly originating from Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia.

Wang Chuan-ping (王娟萍), president of the New Immigrants Labor Rights Association, expressed regret that the Cabinet decided to mandate a waiting period of six years before Chinese spouses can apply for an ID card.

She said that her association would begin lobbying legislators next week in a bid to convince them to change the length of the waiting period to the same as for other foreign spouses.

The amendment would also eliminate the cap on the amount Chinese immigrants can inherit from their Taiwanese spouses, which currently stands at NT$2 million (US$60,000).

The amendment would also allow Chinese spouses to obtain work permits as long as they enter the country legally, instead of having to meet specific existing requirements, such as having lived in Taiwan for at least two years, having children or being a member of a low-income household.

Chung described the Cabinet’s proposed changes to the law as “postponed justice.”

There are an estimated 290,000 Chinese spouses in Taiwan, making them the largest group of foreign spouses in the country.

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