Taiwan: New financial bar for Chinese brides

Taiwan introduced new strict financial rules on Wednesday making it harder for Chinese spouses to live permanently on the island.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2004 13:59 IST

Taiwan introduced new strict financial rules on Wednesday making it harder for Chinese spouses to live permanently on the island.

The measure mainly targets the so-called "mainland brides" accused by anti-Chinese politicians of having marriages of convenience to get into Taiwan for a better life.

Chinese brides face tougher restrictions than any other nationality before they are allowed to live permanently and work on the island because of the bitter rivalry between the governments.

The two sides have been ruled separately since 1949 when communist forces drove nationalists from the mainland to Taiwan at the end of the civil war.

Anti-Chinese bias has increased with the Taiwan government of Chen Shui-bian, which has vigorously promoted a "Taiwan first" policy in the run up to the island's presidential election on March 20.

Chinese brides are only allowed to apply for permanent residency after living on the island for eight years when they are not allowed to work, compared to brides from other countries who only have to stay for four.

From Wednesday, their Taiwanese partners must prove they have assets worth at least five million Taiwan dollars (152,000 US) before the application is approved, an immigration official said.

Alternatively the overseas spouses must prove they can get jobs paying twice the minimum wage.

The financial requirements are likely to be difficult for many in Taiwan where the minimum wage is 15,840 dollars a month.

A mainland bride applying for residency at the immigration office Wednesday wept as she accused Taipei authorities of discrimination.

"We are discriminated against ... the government here treats brides from other countries better," she said.

An angry Taiwanese man, also at the office, said: "You can not weigh marriage with money. What does the government expect me to do? Kidnap for ransom or rob a bank?"

Official figures showed 210,000 Taiwanese, mostly men, have married Chinese, and about 100,000 mainland brides are now staying on the island.

A growing number of mostly working class people are marrying women from China, Vietnam and other southeast Asian countries. But Taipei has stricter rules on granting immigration status to Chinese.

Some anti-China lawmakers tried unsuccessfully last year to extend the length of stay to 12 or even to 25 years before mainland brides can apply for residency.

The immigration official said that the move was not intended to single out Chinese women as the financial rules applied to all immigrant spouses.

First Published: Mar 08, 2004 13:59 IST