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Mainland Wives Face Hostile Environment in Taiwan

United Daily News, News feature, Dongxu Chen, Translated by Jun Wang Posted: Mar 27, 2009

TAIPEI Many women from mainland China who marry Taiwanese men face an unwelcoming environment in their new homes.

Yinglong Chen from Yunlin County, Taiwan, met and fell in love with a girl, Hunyun Zen, in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province in mainland China. They didnt expect that they would face so many obstacles in being together. The couple had to submit a reunion application to the government in Taiwan; go to official interviews; get registered with the police; and apply for a work permit, travel documents and resident card in Taiwan. There are just too many complicated and unreasonable things to deal with, said the couple.

The immigration bureau owes me an apology, said Chen, who went to an interview with the bureau in September 2005. The immigration officer asked him, was your wife a virgin? The husband was angry and said, Its none of your business. Then, two more immigration officers joined the conversation. One said, There are so many mainland women. You can always try them for free until you want to marry one.

The insulting attitude of Taiwan immigrant officers and their treatment of spouses from the mainland like criminals reflect the Taiwanese common posture toward the mainland wives living among them.

Hong Lu married her Taiwanese husband and followed him to Taizhong City. She graduated from Peking University, the top university in mainland China, with a major in English. After obtaining all her legal documents, Lu found a job opportunity through a friend teaching English at a local school. The principal considered that she was qualified for the position and planed to offer her the job. However, students parents found out and were opposed her hiring., threatening to take their children out of the school. It ended up that Lu had to leave.

A resident community in Taizhong City hired a mainland wife to work as a safety guard, which caused most residents to oppose it. They asked the community leader, How could you hire a mainlander? They have moral issues. The community leader defended the mainland wife, insisting, she doesnt steal! But public opinion was just too strong to resist.

In rural areas, mainland spouses are living in an even tougher world. Some husbands are afraid their mainland wives will run away, so they avoid applying for legal status for their wives. In some villages where there are quite a few mainland spouses, local people form groups to keep a close watch over the women.

The mainland wives can easily sense the hostile atmosphere. They say that when they go to the market, all the people speak Minnan dialect. When I speak [Mandarin], all eyes turn on to me!

At home, conflicts are common between the wives and their mothers-in-law. Some of them suffer domestic violence but can do nothing but put up with it. Otherwise, since they dont have legal status, if divorced, they have to leave and would never be able to see their kids again.

Mainland wives can only work on the farm in rural areas. They have to have a permit to work in other places. Its common for employers to tell mainland wives, 500 Taiwan new dollars [about $14 U.S.] a day, with no room to argue. For those whove got their legal status, its not a sure thing that they can get the minimum wage, because mainland spouses resident cards number all start with 29, which makes it very easy for employers to identify them.

Mainland wives experience inequality in almost every aspect of their lives. Taiwanese dont need to renew their drivers license for 10 years. However, mainland spouses have to renew their drivers license frequently.

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