Taiwan lawmakers deny equal treatment for mainland spouses

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - The minimum length of residence for mainland spouses for naturalisation is six years compared to four years as required for spouses of all other nationalities. 

Taiwan ruling party legislators blocked changes to existing residency laws Monday (June 27), keeping the minimum length of residence for mainland spouses looking to obtain Republic of China identification cards at six years.

The day started with immigrant advocacy groups representing mainland Chinese spouses in Taiwan who gathered in front of the Legislative Yuan Monday morning to call for amendments to naturalisation laws.

Nearly 100 protesters braved an early morning heatwave, shouting accusations of legal discrimination and demanding that the minimum length of residence required for mainland spouses to be eligible for an R.O.C. ID card be lowered from six years to four years - the period currently required for spouses of all other nationalities. The demonstration was the groups’ third this month outside the legislature.

The proceedings were more chaotic and heated indoors, with committee chairwoman KMT legislator Huang Chao-shun calling three separate recesses over disagreements on whether or not public observers would be allowed into the chamber.

Within the legislature, an attempt made by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) to clear the amendment, Article 17 of the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, through the Internal Affairs Committee failed despite an attempt to mobilise all of its committee members.

Two weeks ago, Huang riled ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, when as committee chairwoman, she attempted to pass the amendments through the formation of a quorum after the committee had signed off for the day. The results were subsequently reversed.

The KMT proposal in support of reducing the time for mainland spouses to obtain an identification card from six to four years was a leftover proposal of the previous Ma Ying-jeou administration. The DPP led government has not continued to advocate for the changes.

Using a counterargument on equality, DPP legislators stated that mainland spouses should undergo the same process of naturalisation experienced by foreigners to the R.O.C. which requires applicants to forfeit citizenship from the country of origin. The KMT’s Huang stated that such a move to forfeit citizenship would actually acknowledge the legal existence of the People’s Republic of China, and therefore constitute support for the “two states theory”.

The process came to an end when DPP lawmakers requested Huang take a roll call vote, which led to the rejection of the KMT proposal.