updated 17 May 2012, 12:58
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Tue, Feb 07, 2012
China Daily/Asia News Network
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Agency to advise China-Taiwan couples on marriage issues

BEIJING / FUZHOU - The Ministry of Civil Affairs will establish a marriage counseling agency for couples in which each spouse comes from a different side of the Taiwan Straits, ministry officials said on Monday.

More and more residents from the mainland have tied the knot with people from Taiwan in the years since cross-Straits travel was first permitted in 1987, according to a written statement by the ministry.

The increase in the frequency of cross-Straits marriages requires a dedicated government department to offer services and consultation for those couples, including marriage registration, employment, social insurance and adoption, according to the ministry.

"The institution aims to handle the requests and complaints from citizens who have married or will marry residents from Taiwan, in order to improve the quality of their marriages," an official from the ministry wrote.

The agency will be set up in Beijing, and the ministry is looking for a building and hiring staff, said Ni Chunxia, director of the marriage registration division of the Department of Social Affairs under the ministry.

Ai Ying, a Fujian native who runs a fried chicken shop in Fuzhou with her husband from Taiwan, applauded the this kind of agency.

Ai said when the couple decided to wed three years ago, they had to visit the local civil affairs bureau many times to sort out complicated marriage-related issues .

"It would be more convenient if there were professionals to give new couples guidance about marriage procedures and relevant legislation on the different sides of the Straits," she said.

Her words were echoed by Leo Hsieh, a resident of Taiwan who got married in Beijing in 2009. Hsieh said he ran into trouble with his marriage registration.

"My wife came from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and the services provided by the local marriage registration office for cross-Straits couples did not meet our expectations, which cost us more time and effort," he said.

Hsieh also said the procedures for cross-Straits marriage are so complicated.

"I hope the agency could help simplify the procedures or at least tell the newlyweds how to manage the registrations in a simpler way," he said.

He also urged Taiwan's authorities to loosen residency requirements that make it difficult for citizens from the mainland to get identity cards.

"In Taiwan, the government only issues IDs to its residents' spouses who are from the mainland when they have lived on the island for six years. However, the amount of time is cut in half if their spouses are from foreign countries, and this is so unreasonable," Hsieh said.

Statistics from the ministry show that more than 60,000 cross-Straits couples registered for marriage on the mainland in the past five years.

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