The legislature’s Internal Administration Committee yesterday agreed on draft amendments that grant work rights to Chinese nationals immediately upon marriage to Taiwanese and abolish a NT$2 million (US$60,000) cap on the inheritance they could receive from their Taiwanese spouses.
The draft amendment to the Act Governing Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) drew sfire from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which warned that relaxing the immigration regulations for Chinese spouses could have an impact on national security and worsen the unemployment situation.
“I strongly suspect that loosening immigration restrictions for Chinese spouses is the incumbent administration’s tactic to woo more votes for the 2012 presidential election,” DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) said.
Wong urged the government to set stricter safeguards to curb fraudulent marriages between Taiwanese and Chinese nationals.
Noting that the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics on Wednesday announced the unemployment rate had climbed to an all-time high of 5.8 percent, Wong said that lowering the threshold for Chinese nationals to work legally in Taiwan could rob Taiwanese of jobs.
The divorce rate for marriages under two years between Taiwanese and Chinese nationals is 16 percent, while the figure is 3.5 percent for marriages between Taiwanese, she said.
She said the figures showed that fraudulent marriages between Taiwanese and Chinese nationals were still a major immigration concern.
Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) rebutted Wong’s claims, saying that the new measures would only be applicable to marriages that have been authenticated by the National Immigration Agency (NIA) and that Chinese spouses often took jobs that Taiwanese didn’t want.
Last year, 839 of the 12,274 couples that went through the NIA screening process were rejected because of suspicion of fraudulent marriages, she said.
“These women are making financial contributions to their families, thus helping Taiwan’s economy. They are taking jobs that are unwanted by Taiwanese,” she said.
She also said the law stipulates that Chinese nationals were entitled to only NT$2 million of an inheritance left by their Taiwanese spouse.
“But right now, the value of many real estate properties far surpasses NT$2 million. Therefore, sometimes you find Chinese spouses who cannot even return to their own homes after their Taiwanese husbands or wives die,” she said.
KMT Lawmaker Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) said the waiting time for Chinese spouses to get a Republic of China national identification card should be shortened from eight years to four years, adding that the current law treats Chinese spouses as “second-class citizens” and that the immigration policy for foreign and Chinese nationals should be the same.
NIA figures show that more than 263,000 Chinese nationals reside in Taiwan. The new policy, if it passes the legislature, will benefit 27,512 people, the agency said.
The proposed amendment will be further debated in cross-party negotiations before heading to the plenary session for a second and third reading.