Chinese spouses protest ID delays


Around 100 Chinese immigrant spouses rallied outside the legislature despite the pouring rain yesterday, calling for a revision of the Act Governing Relations Between Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) to accelerate the naturalization process for them. "It takes Chinese spouses eight years to obtain a Taiwanese national identity card, while it only takes four years for immigrant spouses for other countries," said Wang Chuan-ping (王娟萍), chairwoman of the New Immigrants Labor Rights Association. "Immigrant spouses from other countries only need to wait 15 days before getting the legal right to work in Taiwan, but Chinese spouses have to wait six years to get a work permit."

"How is this fair? We're not asking much, we're only asking that Chinese spouses be treated the same as other immigrant spouses," Wang told the crowd.

Chung Chin-ming (鍾錦明), chairman of the Cross-Strait Marriage Harmony Promotion Association, said Chinese spouses were allowed to enter Taiwan for a two-year "reunion" period only after a long application and interview process, and they could not work during that two-year period. Then there is a four-year "visiting family" period and a two-year residency period before Chinese spouses could become naturalized citizens.

"While work permits may be conditionally granted during the 'visiting family' period, Chinese spouses are usually only permitted to work once they reach the residency period," he said.

A Chinese spouse might be able to get a work permit during the "visiting family" stage if their Taiwanese spouse is elderly, handicapped, seriously ill or poverty-stricken.

The Chinese spouses first wrapped themselves in a huge fishing net — to symbolize what they said were the unfair laws and treatment they face — and then used scissors to cut themselves free.

"All human beings are born equal," they shouted as they broke free.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shyu Jong-shyong (徐中雄) has proposed revising the law to allow equal treatment of all immigrant spouses, but the proposal was blocked yesterday from being submitted to the Internal Administration Committee for review.

The government has also submitted a proposal to trim the waiting period for national ID cards for Chinese spouses from eight years to six, not the four years that activists have called for.

"The government has made a goodwill gesture, but we cannot accept it," Chung said, adding that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had promised to push for the law to be revised to provide equal treatment to all immigrant spouses during last year's election.

Chinese immigrant spouses protest outside the legislature in Taipei yesterday to demand the Act Governing Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area be revised to speed up the naturalization process.PHOTO: CNA

EQUALITY: Protesters said it was unfair to make them wait years longer than other immigrant spouses to receive work permits and national identity cards