Cross-Straits marriages down sharply in past 3 years amid DPP obstruction
Published: Feb 03, 2023 10:34 PM
Chinese wedding Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Over the past three pandemic-hit years, the number of cross-Straits marriages has dropped by more than 70 percent, the Global Times learned from figures offered by a cross-Straits marriage affairs insider on Friday. The news comes amid recent calls for the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities to resume normal cross-Straits direct flights to facilitate exchanges with the mainland.

Analysts said that the DPP's "anti-mainland" manipulation during the pandemic has impacted cross-Straits marriages, which had already been impeded by various unfair policies on the island. They called on the DPP to learn from its defeat in local elections and give priority to people's livelihoods and peace across the Taiwan Straits.

According to Taiwan authorities, the number of cross-Straits marriages continued to increase after the resumption of people-to-people exchanges in 1987, reaching a peak of 34,109 in 2003, accounting for 20 percent of all marriages in Taiwan that year. However, the number has since decreased year by year, falling below 10,000 in 2014. Only 6,800 couples were registered in 2018, and the number dropped to 6,262 in 2019.

Chong Chin-ming, head of the Chinese Cross-Straits Marriages Coordination and Promotion Association, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Friday that in 2020, more than 1,600 marriages were registered across the Straits. The number fell to a historic low of 1,453 in 2021 and bounced back a bit in 2022 with more than 2,000.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, DPP authorities have engaged in political manipulation under the pretext of COVID response. Since February 2020, DPP authorities have unilaterally banned mainland residents from visiting Taiwan and canceled direct flights, severely disrupting normal personnel exchanges. This has impeded cross-Straits couples from registering in Taiwan, and prevented many cross-Straits family reunions.

Chong's association began after that to actively help cross-Straits families cope with such problems. As the outbreak subsided, he felt that more and more political manipulation is the main obstruction instead of the virus.

Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Wednesday that the mainland aviation authorities have followed existing channels to urge Taiwan authorities to resume cross-Straits direct flights, noting that the epidemic situation on both sides has stabilized, which is a favorable opportunity to resume the normal operation of cross-Straits air routes.

The DPP is thinking about its own electoral interests, said Chong. "But they do not put the well-being of the majority of people first, and confrontation with the mainland only leads to misunderstanding and hostility between the two sides."

The deterioration of cross-Straits relations has also highlighted the unfair treatment of mainland spouses in Taiwan, which has long been ignored.

According to Chong, more than 350,000 cross-Straits families were formed in the past decades, but the Taiwan authorities have imposed several obstructions on mainland spouses, which is in fact the overwhelming factor in declining cross-Straits marriages.

For instance, he said that after marriage registration, mainland spouses in Taiwan need to go through a six-year process to obtain the "settlement ID card" needed to live and work in Taiwan. In the process, there are frequent inspections, reviews and interviews with authorities.

Taiwan authorities' policy obstruction is also a major cause of divorce among cross-Straits couples, According to Chong. He told the Global Times that there about 4,000 cross-Straits couples got divorced in 2022.

Some couples may live separately sometimes due to work reasons, which gives an opportunity for Taiwan authorities to question the authenticity of the marriage. Sometimes they even force mainland spouses to leave the region and revoke their residence status, said Chong. "Some marriages were broken up in that way."

When it comes to cross-Straits marriage, the Taiwan authorities should not set such unfair obstructions, as the island and the mainland share the same language and culture, and can quickly blend into each other's environment, Chong said.

It should be noted that, according to the statistics of the Taiwan authorities, the proportion of Taiwan women marrying mainland men has been increasing. Many couples choose to live in the mainland, so they are no longer registered in Taiwan.

The economic conditions of the mainland are better, and the mainland market is much larger with better international integration, Chong said. "The mainland has friendly and generous policies toward Taiwan compatriots, and they will no doubt have broader prospects in the mainland."

Unlike Taiwan, the mainland has a more open and supportive attitude towards cross-Straits marriage, he added.