大陸新娘過台灣

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1992 / 10月

文‧陳淑美 圖‧張良綱


頗受矚目的「兩岸關係條例」,在九月十八日公佈施行細則,其中放寬大陸配偶來台配額,但遣返偷渡新娘的決定,立刻引來大陸配偶到立法院陳情。

 

有人說,大陸配偶來台事件,其實是海島性格勇於冒險的最佳實例:當事人在法令未開的情況下,先造成既定事實,再逼迫政策讓步。

 

是耶?非耶?當家庭團聚、人道考慮,與法律尊嚴、社會秩序、國家安全一同放上了天平時,該如何衡量?


九月六日,台北市近郊的士林明德樂園,來了一群大陸姑娘。她們大多懷抱著孩子,手提茶壺、點心,老公則一路招呼著,有說有笑地指點著環境。

她們不是什麼傑出的專業人士,或演藝人員,大多只是平常的家庭主婦。她們是今年元月才開放來台的第一批大陸配偶、台灣地區的合法居民,趁著假日到郊外聯誼。

九月十五日,台北市青島東路的立法院門口,也來了一群大陸配偶。不像士林那些人的談笑風生,女士們大多哭喪著臉,先生則在一旁安慰著。最引人注目的是他們的孩子,頭上綁著陳情的白布條,身上寫道「我是無辜」幾個大字。他們要向立法院陳情,讓他們留下來。

大陸配偶造成社會議題

孩子的媽媽是非法入境的大陸配偶。在「兩岸關係條例」及其施行細則公佈以前,曾以人道理由獲准在台暫時居留。九月十八日兩岸條例實施之後,他們也跟所有非法來台的偷渡客一樣,將遭到遣送的命運。

大陸配偶——其實多半是大陸新娘、大陸媳婦的問題,最近造成很大的議論。翻閱報紙,總有相關的報導。社會版上,更是每隔個幾天,就有查獲偷渡新娘的新聞,還有漁民為留住偷渡的大陸老婆,而跟警察大打出手的事情發生。

有些婚姻專家擔心,大陸新娘再繼續進來,很可能會對已經十分「不平衡」的婚姻市場加重危機,找不到老公、晚嫁,甚至不婚的女性將會更多。

也有人以人力的角度贊成大陸新娘來台,認為反正目前社會上急需勞動力,多來些年輕女性,對提高生產力總有幫助。

種種議論及其心態都有值得商榷處。事實上,大陸新娘的成因、結果都不單純,並不是一兩個小利小弊可以衡量清楚的。

壯年大陸客正式來台居留

據內政部入出境管理局的統計,至今年八月底為止,合法核准的大陸配偶總共有一百零五人。而正式入境的人數為五十四人,非法入境的,則數字不詳。

警務處曾經籠統估計,目前平均每個月約有一千名大陸偷渡客,這其中有多少是大陸配偶,就不得而知了。

以往能在台灣正式居留的大陸客,不是年過七十的老人,就是未滿十二歲的小孩;正值壯年的大陸客,如傑出專業人士,或演藝人員等,多是短期停留。開放大陸配偶在台居住,算是政府大陸政策開放的一大步,卻也是接受考驗的試金石。

約在十餘年前,由於台灣地區的社會變遷加劇,人口生育力持續下降,就有學者大聲疾呼,此後台灣社會人口移入的問題,將更甚於移出。隨著大陸配偶來台所產生的移民「鎖鍊」效果,如所生的小孩,跟著而來的家人等,果然給社會帶來了新的衝擊。

給政府出測驗題

把大陸配偶當作外地移民,還是本國人民?這是政府的難題之一。

說起來,政府從來支持「一個中國」政策,只是認為兩岸是兩個平等的政治實體,要等兩岸的差距接近,才能來談統一。因此在兩岸尚在對立之時,大陸人士雖是「本國」人民,也要給予來台限制。

當大陸配偶來台的問題開始沸騰時,有關單位面臨的問題則是,那一類的大陸配偶可以來?應該給多少配額?因為在我們的民法規定堙A並未限制不准跟大陸人士結婚,法條中還規定,結婚的基本要件是要履行同居義務。

開放探親以後,許多當年因為戰亂而離散的老夫妻重逢了。在數十年的等待後,終可重續前緣。這些大陸配偶們該不該來台?

開放探親後,到對岸旅行的人多了,社會、文化、經濟的交流增多,人們來往密切,交了朋友、有了感情基礎,形成婚配。這些人想申請配偶來台,該怎麼辦?

放寬配額人數,遣返偷渡新娘

還有一些在政府未開放探親之前,偷偷跑去大陸的。這些人假若在大陸結婚,他們的婚姻事實,政府認不認定?

考慮種種不同類型的大陸配偶,政府在去年底制訂每個月可來台廿名(探親前與探親後各十名),一年共有兩百四十名的配額。

去年元旦,開放按排隊順序登記時,出現了在台配偶們在新曆除夕前四天,就開始漏夜排隊的盛況。一年的配額數在元月就滿了。到了八月底為止,根據救總的資料,申請人數共達七百七十餘人,約是配額的三倍。

粥少僧多,當然怨聲載道。九月十八日,政府於是在首次召開的大陸工作會上,宣佈放寬大陸配偶的來台配額。新規定中不再分探親前後,所有的類別,總共加起來為三百人,卅八年以前結婚的,不受配額限制。

婚姻先「統一」了?

放寬配額之外,政府也對非法入境的大陸配偶下了最後通牒,要他們快到救總登記,排隊了以後先回到大陸等候。依照陸委會估計,她們約在兩年後便可望來台;否則按「兩岸關係條例」,她們將與非法來台的偷渡客一樣,送往靖廬等候遣送。

於是有了立法院前的陳情場面。透過媒體的報導,滿面愁容的大陸媽媽抱著天真的孩子,引起許多人的同情。但也有人認為,這些人在兩岸尚在對立的情況下,就跑在法律前頭,率先「統一」了婚姻,自然要付出代價。

研究兩岸婚姻的中研院社會科學研究所研究員陳寬政就認為,「當然要為社會成本付費,配額、文書驗證等,都是合理的事。」

這其實就是政府的考量。境管局副局長劉蓬春指出,兩岸尚在對立,站在「一定得把關」的立場上,實在有必要審慎查核。

若問兩岸婚配的當事人,所有人的回答卻是:「認為我們會危害國家安全,太高估了我們吧!」何況中華民國法律中並沒有規定,不可以跟大陸同胞結婚啊!

「不是從小就要我們解救大陸同胞嗎?真的做了反而不對了?」一位年輕漁民也提出這樣的質疑。

為愛許身,以身試法

其實目前大陸配偶的申請者雖然很多,但真正入境的人卻不多,主要是卡在文書驗證:大陸的結婚文件、孩子的出生證明是否真實,手寫無憑,政府希望對岸能夠幫忙查證,作個再確認。

可是對岸並不配合。他們認為,「我發出的文件就是真的,應該承認」,就這樣兩方僵持不下。

文書問題困住許多結婚數年的兩岸夫妻,儘管他們合乎陸委會規定的「結婚兩年,育有子女」等要件,卻仍然無法順利來台。有的人不耐久等,乾脆將老婆偷渡來台。也有人一看到配額排到那麼後面,來台無方,也就不管法令,先把老婆弄來再說。

這就形成很多非法偷渡的兩岸夫妻,也更增加政府處理的困擾。

宜蘭的一位大陸太太表示,「我們為愛、為孩子、為丈夫而來,哪裡錯了!」說來理直氣壯。

哪裡錯了?常替兩岸婚配問題講話的立法委員陳定南、陳癸淼曾經建議,非法入境大陸配偶應有別於其他偷渡客,不宜以遣送處置。但政府的立場是,如果不遣送,無異鼓勵非法,對真正辛苦排隊的人,反而不公。而且,如果大陸人都用此法來台灣怎麼辦?

語言不通、文化不同!

聽起來像是危言聳聽?但是也有人認為,這樣的說法有其依據。

接觸過大陸配偶的人都可以感受到,兩岸婚配可說大多是「速成」婚姻。他們多半因旅行、探親、經商,甚至在相親團裡認識,交往的時間都很短,且因為要時常往來,花費太大,因此大多速戰速決,步入禮堂。

這樣的感情基礎,加上兩岸四十年的隔閡、社會制度的不同,更增加衝突的可能性。

澎湖有位四川籍的大陸太太就因為個性較強、語言不通而跟家人時起衝突。

「我嗓門大、話又跟他們說的不同,每次喊孩子大聲點,婆婆就說我在虐待小孩」,這位太太是嫁過來當後母的。問他跟先生怎麼認識的,她只含含糊糊地說,在福建經朋友介紹認識的,至於為何會從四川到福建去認識台灣郎,則不願詳談。

還有一位湖南小姐嫁到新竹一個客家家庭,婆婆每天凌晨四、五點就起床了,做媳婦的雖然也跟著一早就起床工作,但始終覺得太辛苦了,對來台的生活也不是很滿意。

她說她常不明瞭弟媳們為何能數十年如一日的如此工作,她的家人常跟她講過去家埵p何由苦到甘,鼓勵她多多忍耐,但她不了解人生為何要這麼苦?她為何要嫁這麼遠?

合法入境,偷渡心情

還有更多不被媒體曝光的偷渡新娘,她們或是因為對岸政治經濟不穩定,對台灣的嚮往而來,或是因為想來台謀生、求職未果而嫁做人婦,更甚者還為人肉集團所控制。

換句話說,兩岸婚配的成因和結合動機都比較複雜,因此政府有必要採取謹慎的評估態度。當然,只要有限制,也就可能會殃及無辜——真誠的婚姻就得忍耐一些不便了。

居留之外,被討論頗多的是大陸配偶在台的權益問題。陸委會法政處處長朱武獻指出,政府的立場是,已合法入境的大陸配偶及其子女,在兩年適應期滿,婚姻事實認定後,就跟我國國民一樣,領有身分證,享有各種基本權利,如投票、保險等。

因此在兩年適應期間,大陸配偶可說完全是過渡的身分,很多大陸配偶為此非常沒有安全感。

演員魯直的太太馬郁擔心她沒有正式的身分證,會找不到有保障的工作;小孩不能到衛生所打免費的預防針,也不能加入先生的保險。「我們是合法進來的,但感覺跟偷渡差不多」,她說。

當家庭團聚碰上兩岸對立……

也許有人覺得,新移民總要忍受點不方便,舉世皆然。但是有些人可不只是埋怨,而真正發生了問題。

一個為協助大陸新娘適應在台生活而設的民間社團「大陸新娘精神娘家」,已經傳出有先生死了、太太因與公婆不合而生活無著的案例。由第一批來台大陸配偶自發成立的「大陸配偶聯誼會」,也有幾個配偶來台後,因為跟先生相處不來而不知去向的例子。

對這些案例,政府有無追蹤輔導?朱處長認為,這些人因為在兩年適應期間,還不算台灣地區居民,且婚姻事實也有待認定,因此應予遣返。但這樣到底合不合理?算不算人道?

而目前最棘手的問題,要算那些在九月十八日後就要被遣送的非法入境大陸配偶了。這些人因為偷渡來台,在對岸也是非法出境的身分。在兩岸的政治現實下,這些人將如何結局?

「看到報紙之後,我們全家已經哭了三天了」,一位澎湖的漁民說。他還為此聯合宜蘭的非法入境夫妻到台北陳情。「請願有用嗎?」他問。

他的問題目前沒有人能給他答案。當人道的問題碰上政治,當家庭團聚跟國家安全、社會秩序一併考慮,當他們選擇了非法途徑在先,再多的質疑、傷心,恐怕也都得讓路。也許我們只能期待未來,等兩岸統一,如此最好是寫在小說裡的故事,才不會在現實發生。

〔圖片說明〕

P.42

原本是好久才能相會一次的鵲橋會,如今因為兩岸關係的變化,得以天天相聚一起。這是今年九月,「大陸配偶聯誼會」在外雙溪舉辦聯誼活動,大夥的合照。

P.44

(上、右)土豆跟薯條有何不同?這不僅是四十年的隔閡、南北的差異。台北的大廈住家,怎麼像住酒店一樣!

P.45

兩岸婚配年齡差距〔圖表〕

P.45

申請來台大陸配偶教育程度分類〔圖表〕

P.45

申請來台大陸配偶性別人數〔圖表〕

1987年11月2日開放探親後結婚者

開放探親前結婚者

資料來源:救總

P.46、47

即使是隔海而來,相同的語言、習慣,對婆媳關係仍有不少幫助。左圖黃秀珍的口味比較重,通常還是由婆婆作菜。右圖也來自泉州的駱靜芬很少表示意見,仍在摸索學習的階段。

P.48

(左)來自杭州的傅曉梅,當別人問起嫁到台灣會不會受騙時,她就說,和先生是遠房親戚,不會啦。魏先生已經退休,他說,他們倆整天在家裡逗弄孩子,非常快樂。

P.49

(右)兩位來自四川的年輕姑娘,同樣嫁到澎湖為人後娘,心境相同,已經成為好朋友。

P.51

雖有大陸合法的結婚證書,走上偷渡來台一途,總是蒙上遣返的陰影。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Here Come the Mainland Brides

Jackie Chen /photos courtesy of Vincent Chang /tr. by Peter Eberly

The regulations announced on September 18 implementing the Taiwan Straits Relations Act included an expansion of the quota on mainland spouses allowed to enter Taiwan, but the decision to deport those who have come here illegally immediately led them to petition the Legislative Yuan.

Some say that the case of mainland spouses is a perfect example of our risk-taking islander spirit: creating a de facto situation before the regulations have been drawn up and then hoping that the policy will conform.

Who's right and who's wrong? When family togetherness and humanitarian concerns are placed on the same scale with respect for the law, social order and national security, how should they be weighed?


A group of women from mainland China went to Mingteh Park in Shihlin on the outskirts of Taipei one day. Most of them cradled an infant in one arm and carried beverages and snacks in the other. Their husbands were chatting away beside them and pointing out the sights along the way.

They weren't outstanding specialists or figures from the arts and entertainment, like the other mainlanders who have visited Taiwan recently -- just ordinary housewives mostly. They were among the first group of mainland spouses allowed to enter Taiwan this January. Legal residents here, they were taking advantage of the weekend for a friendly outing together.

On September 15, another group of mainland wives and their husbands gathered in front of the Legislative Yuan on Chingtao E. Rd. in Taipei. Unlike the laughing, chatting crowd at Shihlin, the women were tearful and upset, and the men were trying to comfort them. What attracted the most attention were the little children, who sported white protest headbands and were draped in slogans proclaiming "I am innocent." The women were petitioning the Legislative Yuan to let them remain in Taiwan.

A social quandary: The children's mothers were illegal immigrants from the mainland. Before detailed regulations implementing the Taiwan Straits Relations Act were announced on September 18, they had been permitted to stay here temporarily for humanitarian reasons, but now that the law had gone into effect, they were going to be deported just like other illegal immigrants.

The problem of mainland spouses--most of them are wives, in fact--has created a big stir lately. Flip through the newspaper, and you're bound to find articles on it. Every few days there's a story in the crime pages about an illegal bride being caught or a fisherman husband getting in a fight with the police.

Some marriage experts worry that if mainland brides continue to enter Taiwan, it may well exacerbate the already critical imbalance in the marriage market, and even more women will have trouble finding a husband, marry late or even remain single all their lives.

Others approve of mainland brides coming to Taiwan, looking at it from a manpower perspective. We're in urgent need of labor now anyway, they say, and bringing in more young women will help raise productivity.

All the various arguments and attitudes make points worth considering. Indeed, the problem is complex in cause and effect and not one to be weighed in terms of a few petty advantages or disadvantages.

Residency for mainlanders: According to the Bureau of Entry and Exit, as of the end of August a total of 100 or so mainland spouses had been legally approved to enter Taiwan, of whom 54 had actually arrived. The number of illegal entrants is unknown.

The Taiwan Provincial Police Administration has roughly estimated that about 1,000 mainlanders a month enter Taiwan illegally but has no idea how many of them may be spouses.

The number of mainland spouses entering Taiwan may not seem large, but the effects cannot be ignored.

Mainlanders allowed to reside in Taiwan in the past were either elderly people over 70 or children under 12. Otherwise, the only mainlanders who have been able to come to Taiwan have been outstanding specialists or figures from the arts and entertainment, and they for short-term visits only. Letting in mainland spouses can be seen as a touchstone of the government's mainland policy and a major step forward.

A decade or so back, when the fertility rate on Taiwan began to decline due to quickening social change, scholars warned that the problem of population inflow would become greater than that of outflow. Indeed, the "chain reaction" effect produced by mainland spouses coming to Taiwan -- the children they may give birth to and the family members that may follow along--is presenting us with new problems and challenges.

An exam question for the government: Should mainland spouses be treated as foreign immigrants or as fellow citizens? That is the government's main dilemma.

The government has always maintained a policy of "One China"--it just believes that the differences between the two sides must narrow before reunification can be discussed. As long as the two sides remain separate, mainlanders may be citizens of the "Chinese nation," but they have to be restricted from coming to Taiwan.

When the issue of mainland spouses first started to heat up, the prime questions facing the agencies concerned were which kind of spouses should be allowed to come to Taiwan, and what should the quota be. None of our laws or regulations prohibit marrying mainlanders, but a basic legal requirement of marriage is cohabitation.

After visits to relatives on the mainland were legalized a few years ago, many elderly couples who had been separated in the wake of war and turmoil years back were finally reunited and began to pick up the ties of the past. Should mainland spouses like them be allowed to come to Taiwan?

As the number of travelers to the mainland increased, social, cultural and economic interaction intensified. People made friends there, and some of them became romantically involved and married. Now that these people are applying for their spouses to come to Taiwan, what should be done?

In addition, some people went to the mainland surreptitiously before visits were legalized and married. Should their marriages be recognized?

Taking into consideration all these various categories, the government late last year decreed that 20 spouses would be allowed in each month (10 who married before the legalization of mainland visits and 10 who married afterwards) for a total of 240 a year. Registration on a first-come first- served basis was to begin on January 1, and spouses in Taipei began lining up and camping out four days beforehand. The first year's quota was filled before the end of January. By the end of August, according to the Chinese Refugees Relief Association, the number of applicants exceeded 770, over three times the annual quota.

With too few places to go around, there were naturally howls of complaint. On September 18, at the first meeting of the Mainland Coordination Conference, the government announced it would expand the quota to 300 a year, exempting spouses who married before 1949 and eliminating the distinction between marriages made before and after the legalization of mainland visits.

At the same time, the government laid down an ultimatum to mainland spouses in Taiwan illegally, demanding that they promptly register with the Chinese Refugees Relief Association and then return to the mainland to wait word. Otherwise, they would be sent to the holding center in Chinglu, in accordance with the Taiwan Straits Relation Act, to await deportation, the same as other illegal entrants.

Reunification through marriage? That's when the petitioners gathered at the Legislative Yuan. Their plight evoked sympathy in many when it was reported in the media, but some people believe they have tried to carry out "reunification through marriage" while the two side are still in a state of opposition and that, as Chen Kuan-cheng, a researcher at the Sun Yat-sen Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy at Academia Sinica who has studied the issue in depth, says, "of course, they should have to bear certain social costs. Quotas, document verification and the like are only reasonable."

That is the government's position, in fact. Liu Peng-chun, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Entry and Exit, points out that from the standpoint of "holding the fort" while the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are still in opposition, careful review is a must.

But there's also the problem of humanitarian concerns.

If you ask the couples themselves, their answer is pretty much the same: "Thinking we're a threat to national security is a bit overestimating us!" What's more, R.O.C. laws don't prohibit marriage to a mainland compatriot.

Some even take a shot at how much ways of thinking have changed. "Didn't we always hear when we were little how we should liberate our compatriots on the mainland? How can it be wrong now that we're really trying to do it?"

Testing the law: In fact, the main reason so few spouses have officially entered so far, despite all the applications, is problems with document verification, with whether marriage licenses and birth certificates issued on the mainland are genuine. The government would like the other side to help out by making a double-check.

But they aren't cooperating. The mainland's attitude is, "Our documents are genuine and ought to be recognized," which has led to a standoff.

The document problem has held up many cross-strait couples, no matter how fully they meet the criteria stipulated by the Mainland Affairs Council of "being married for at least two years and having one or more children." Some husbands can't stand the wait and have their wives brought in illegally, while others see that they're ranked so far at the bottom that they decide to ignore the law, bring the wife over first and then see what happens.

That has created many illegal entrant couples, increasing the government's difficulties.

A mainland wife in Ilan says with righteous assurance, "We came here for love, for our children, for our husbands. What did we do wrong?!"

What did they do wrong? National legislators Chen Ting-nan and Chen Kuei-miao, who often speak up for cross-strait married couples, have suggested that mainland spouses who enter Taiwan illegally should be treated differently from other illegal entrants instead of being deported. But the government's position is, that would just encourage people to break the law and wouldn't be fair to those who have been patiently waiting their turn. What's more, if everyone on the mainland tried to use this method to come to Taiwan, what then?

Cultural barrier: Just alarmist talk? Yet some people think there are grounds for concern.

Anyone who has met them can sense that most cross-strait couples are the product of quick-fix marriages. Most of them got acquainted through travel, business, visits to relatives or even marriage arrangement agencies. Since shuttling back and forth is so expensive, there isn't much time for courtship, and most of them made a hasty trip to the altar.

That sort of shaky foundation, ps the different social systems on either side of the Taiwan Strait and their separation for over 40 years, adds to the possibilities for conflict.

A Szechwanese wife living in Penghu often gets into fights with her husband's family simply because of her strong personality and the language barrier.

"I've got a loud voice, and I speak a different dialect than they do. Every time I raise my voice at the kids, my mother-in-law says it's child abuse." She married in as a stepmother. When asked how she and her husband came to meet each other, she speaks vaguely about being introduced in Fukien through a friend--as to why she left Szechwan to meet a Taiwanese man in Fukien, she prefers not to go into that.

Then there's a Hunanese lass who married into a Hakka family in Hsinchu. Her mother-in-law gets up at four or five in the morning every day, and even though she, as a good daughter-in-law, gets up with her and starts her work, she still feels it's a terrible chore and isn't very happy with her life in Taiwan.

She doesn't understand how her sisters-in-law can work like that year in and year out. The other family members often tell her how hard life used to be in the old days and encourage her to bear with it, but she just can't understand why life has to be so tough and why she had to marry into a family that lives so far away.

Feeling illegal: There are more mainland spouses here illegally who haven't been exposed by the media. Some of them may have married because they longed for Taiwan's political and economic stability or wanted to live here and couldn't find a job back home or even because they fell into clutches of the white slave trade.

In other words, there are complex factors and motives behind cross-strait marriages, and the government must maintain a cautious attitude in evaluating them. Of course, whenever there are restrictions, the innocent may get caught up, too--and couples who wed in all sincerity may have to put up with some inconveniences.

Besides residency, another issue that has been discussed a lot is what rights should be available to mainland spouses in Taiwan. Chu Wu-yu, director of legal affairs in the Mainland Affairs Council, says that the government's position is that legally resident mainland spouses who have completed a two-year adjustment period and the fact of whose marriage has been recognized will receive a citizen identification card and enjoy all the fundamental rights of other R.O.C. citizens, such as voting, health insurance and so forth.

The result is that mainland spouses are in a kind of limbo during their two-year adjustment period, and many of them are worried and frightened about how to get through it. Ma Yu, wife of the actor Lu Chih, for instance, is afraid that without an official ID card she won't be able to find reliable work, get a free vaccination for her child at a public health clinic or use her husband's medical insurance. "We came here legally, but it doesn't feel much different from being illegal," she says.

Weighing conflicting concerns: Perhaps some may feel that new immigrants always have to put up with a little inconvenience--the same goes everywhere. But some spouses aren't just griping. Serious problems have really occurred.

A private civic organization aimed at helping mainland wives adjust to life in Taiwan called Mother's Home for Mainland Brides has reported cases of wives whose husbands have died and have been left destitute because they don't get along with their parents-in-law. And the Mainland Spouse Friendship Society has seen cases of wives breaking up with their husbands after coming to Taiwan and not knowing where to turn.

Has the government looked into these cases? Director Chu maintains that these people should be deported since they haven't been here for two years and aren't considered Taiwan residents, nor has the fact of their marriage yet been recognized. But is that reasonable? Is it humane?

The stickiest problem at present is probably those mainland spouses who entered Taiwan illegally and are to be deported as of September 18. Having come here illegally, they are considered by the mainland to have exited illegally. Given the present political realities, what consequences can they expect?

"After we read the news, the whole family cried for three days straight," a fisherman in Penghu says. He teamed up with a number of couples from Ilan to go to Taipei to petition. "But is petitioning any use?" he asks.

No one can answer his question for now. When humanitarian concerns run up against politics, when keeping a family together has to be weighed against national security and social order, hurt and anger probably have to step aside. Perhaps we can only look to the future and wait for national reunification to keep melodramatic stories that belong in a novel from occurring over and over in real life.

Age Differences in Cross-Strait Couples[Picture]

Mainland Spouses Who Have Applied to Come to Taiwan: Educational Level[Picture]

Mainland Spouses Who Have Applied to Come to Taiwan: Sex[Picture]

Couples married after the legalization of visits to the mainland on November 2, 1987

Couples married before November 2, 1987

Source: Chinese Refugees Relief Association

[Picture Caption]

Couples who used to meet scarcely once in a blue moon are together every day now thanks to improved relations across the Taiwan Strait. This is an outing held by the Mainland Spouse Friendship Society in September at Shuanghsi, near Taipei.

(Above, right) From potatoes to french fries--the switch represents more than just 40 years of separation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and the differences between north and south. And why does living in a Taipei high-rise apartment building seem like staying in a hotel?

Despite her coming all the way across the sea, speaking a similar dialect and observing similar customs are of great help to a mainland bride in building up a good relationship with her mother In-law. Huang Hsiu-chen (photo at left) tends to make spicy food, which isn't very good for older people's digestion, so her mother-in-law does most of the cooking. Luo Ching-fen (photo at right), who comes from Fukien also, rarely expresses her opinions. She's still a t the stage of feeling things out.

(Left) When asked if she ever worries she might be cheated in marrying a man from Taiwan, Fu Hsiao-mei, from Hangchow, says that's impossible -- her husband is a distant relative. Mr. Wei, a retiree, says they play at home with the baby all day and are very happy.

(Right) These two women from Szechwan both married Penghu men who had been married before and have become good friends because of their similar situations.

Even though they may have a valid marriage license from the mainland, some couples have still entered Taiwan surreptitiously and live under the shadow of deportation.

 

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