Red Brick Daily

You have to give up your original citizenship before you can become a national of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

So imagine this scenario: a woman from China marries a Taiwanese man — let’s assume both sides had honorable intentions entering the marriage.

After five years the woman has met the requirements to become an ROC national, gives up her PRC passport and becomes “Taiwanese.” .

Years pass and relationships goes south — they separate. The husband, being a bit of a jerk, comes up with a ‘clever’ plan to get the last word: he goes down to the courthouse and “turns himself in” … claiming that all along his marriage was fake, and she had been using him for a visa and eventual citizenship.

Such a confession at this point in Taiwanese law would be invalid … as the statute of limitations would have passed.

However, under new amendments proposed by the legislature, the five-year time limit to report the acquisition of ROC citizenship acquired through a fake marriage would be lifted.

Rights activists are denouncing the idea … saying it will result in vindictive — generally husbands — “turning in” their foreign wives as revenge for a marriage turned sour.

For the husband, “turning himself in” or having someone deliberately report on him … could result in a three-month jail term … but that almost never happens and the general outcome is a fine.

(Of course, not all marriages involve a Taiwanese husband and foreign spouse, but this is the most common pairing)

For the now-ex-wife however, she has become stateless. She is now illegal in Taiwan, without rights, social benefits, the ability to work and a passport to leave … “She becomes stateless and illegal at the same time,” said one of the activists.

It seems clear that Taiwan needs to consider the rights of foreign spouses without looking at them through the profiling assumption that the marriages are fake.