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Group pushes bill expediting Chinese spouses' citizenship

Group pushes bill expediting Chinese spouses' citizenship

Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) Activists devoted to the rights and interests of Chinese spouses in Taiwan urged the Legislature on Friday to quickly pass a bill that would shorten the amount of time needed for the spouses to gain Taiwanese citizenship. Hundreds of members of the Cross-Strait Marriage Harmony Promotion Association, Chinese spouses, and their family members gathered at the Legislative Yuan to make the appeal and protest opposition parties' disapproval of the bill. Chung Chin-ming, head of the civic group, complained of an unfair system that requires Chinese nationals married to Taiwanese citizens to live in Taiwan for at least 183 days a year for six years to qualify for citizenship. "It is not just unfair but also discriminatory" against Chinese spouses because under the existing law, spouses of Taiwanese nationals from other countries only need to live in the country for three years before applying for citizenship, Chung said. The law also requires that they live in Taiwan for a fourth year before they can obtain citizenship, but must give up citizenship in their native country to do so. If they insist on retaining citizenship in their native country, they can get permanent residence, but not citizenship, after living in Taiwan for at least five years. The government should not handle issues related to Chinese spouses from a political angle, some Chinese protesters argued, saying that Chinese spouses, like spouses from other countries, have made significant contributions to Taiwan. Amendments to the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and Mainland Area that would address the issue have been submitted to the Legislature's Internal Administration Committee for review. The amendments lay out three options for shortening the six-year period Chinese spouses have to wait for the right to apply for citizenship. One option would require applicants to live in Taiwan for three years in a row for a minimum of 183 days each year and an additional year in which they reside in Taiwan for at least 335 days. A second option would require applicants to live in Taiwan for at least 270 days each year for two years, and the third version would require minimum residency of 183 days each year for at least five years. Under all of the options, Chinese spouses would have to give up their residency registrations in the People's Republic of China. The amendments are not expected to be reviewed during the Legislature's current session, which is expected to end in mid-January. The next session will begin in February. The protesters marched to the Mainland Affairs Council, the main agency in Taiwan responsible for coordinating China policy, following the rally at the Legislature. Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi told the protesters that he has worked to amend discriminatory laws against Chinese people in Taiwan since taking office last September. He has promoted legislation to address the citizenship application restriction and the exclusion of Chinese students in Taiwan from the national health insurance system, and they have been submitted to the Legislature for review, he said. (By Chen Ting-wei, Scarlett Chai and Elizabeth Hsu)


Updated : 2021-10-23 07:31 GMT+08:00