Helping Couples Across Taiwan Strait Tie the Knot
Ho Ai Li – Straits Times
Xiamen, China. If Taiwanese television director Li Cheng-chung had known how difficult it was to register a marriage with a spouse from mainland China, he might have had second thoughts.
It took three months to register his nuptials with his wife from Sichuan in south-west China.
“I discovered that for a mainland person to marry a Taiwanese is even more complex than Shenzhou IX going into space,” he told guests at a forum on cross-strait marriages yesterday.
To help couples like them navigate the difficulties of a cross-strait marriage, China has set up a family service centre in Fujian, with a view to opening centers in other provinces later.
The center will offer help and advice, especially to mainland spouses unclear about rules and regulations in Taiwan.
The center was one of several initiatives announced by Chinese officials at the fourth cross-strait forum in Xiamen.
Since Beijing and Taipei first gave their blessings to marital unions across the Taiwan Strait in the 1980s, more than 320,000 couples have tied the knot.
The center will be based in Fujian, as a third of cross-strait unions involve someone from the southern province closest to Taiwan. Other provinces with a big number of such marriages will be also encouraged to set up centres, said civil affairs minister Li Liguo.
“In recent years, Taiwan has removed many unreasonable restrictions on cross-strait marriages but there are still many barriers to overcome,” he said.
With Taiwan and China ruled since 1949 by different governments that do not recognise each other, marriages across the Taiwan Strait are complex affairs.
A mainland Chinese married to a Taiwanese, for instance, faces a wait of six years to get permanent residency in Taiwan. They also find it hard to get jobs there, as their education qualifications are not recognized.
Last month, the complexity of cross-strait romantic relations was underlined by the uproar over a Taiwanese air force officer who dated a mainland reporter based in Taiwan. Such liaisons are a no-no due to fears that sensitive data may be leaked.
Even relationships between civilians are not smooth sailing.
Lecturer Wang Xiaohua, for instance, had to wait half a year before registering his marriage in Beijing with his Taiwanese wife, also an academic, as no one was sure how this could be done.
Complex rules, or the lack of precedence, aside, cultural differences are also a problem.
“Your language is the same, but your meaning may differ,” said veteran Taiwanese singer Ling Feng, whose wife is from China’s eastern Shandong province.
Ironically, Taiwan has retained more of traditional Chinese culture than the mainland.
As Xinjiang native Wang Dingzhong notes, he is not used to having his Taiwanese wife make tea for him or bring him his slippers each time he returns home.
“I learnt in school that men and women are equal,’”he said.
Given the obstacles, it takes a lot more for cross-strait marriages to work, said Li. “We’re all Superman. We have super patience and endurance,” he said.
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times