The integration of new immigrants in Taiwan. An interview-based analysis

Term Paper, 2020

89 Pages, Grade: 2.0





Society's Image of the New Inhabitants
Why Taiwanese M en are Willing to Marry a Foreign Woman
Taiwanese Imigration Policies and their Influence on the Development of Private Marriage Agencies
The Process of Arranged Marriages

theoretical approach to understanding migration
Lee's Push and Pull Theory
Wallerstein's World-Systems Theory
Migration Network Theory



sociAL suPPoRT PRoviDED BY NGos

B ioPsYcHosociAL M oDEL
E coLoGicAL s YsTEMs T HEoRY






Annex 1: Transcription, Social Worker-^ting)
Annex 2: Transcription, Social Worker-<(zhen)
Annex 3: Transcription, Social Worker-,£(yu)
Annex 4: Transcription, The New Inhabitants-IM£(a heng)
Annex 6: Transcription, The New Inhabitants-^<(a mei)
Annex 5: Transcription, The New Inhabitants-H^(a qiO)


AHRLIM-Alliance for Human Rights Legislation for Immigrants and Migrants

CEDAW-Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women

GDP- Gross Domestic Product

KMT- Kuomintang

MPA-Meinung People's Association

NGO - Non-Governmental Organization

NT- New Taiwan Dollar

NIA-National Immigration Agency

ROC-Republic OfChina

SAPs -Structural Adjustment Programs

TASAT-TransAsia Sisters Association, Taiwan

VISA-Visitors International Stay Admission


Taiwan's economy started growing in the 1960s with the beginning of industrialization in the country which created a lot of work opportunities for people. As a result, Taiwan became known as one of the Four Asian Tigers “ W 'J'/l(ya zhou sixiao long) which include Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore. The event is also known as the Taiwan Economic Miracle“wan jmg ji qi ji) ” which turned Taiwan into one of the most important countries for international trade in the Asia region( < > 2017). Therefore, migrants from Southeast Asian countries started coming to Taiwan. According to the Push and Pull theory, Lee stated that “while positive factors are the circumstances that act to hold people within it, or attract people from other areas, negative factors tend to repel them” (Lee,1966,p.191). Taiwan's migration policy could not keep up with the quickly changing situation due to the circumstances of its economic rise. (X^^ ’ 2000)

Many migrants saw marriage as a chance to come to Taiwan and the only way for them to do this was to go through private agencies. However, these companies only cared about maximizing their profits, and therefore, the effort which was put into finding a suitable partner was very limited. It is usual for female migrants to only meet their future husbands for one to a maximum of three times, before getting married and moving to Taiwan (Hsia Hsiao-Chuan,2007). A Taiwanese man has to pay around NT400.000-600.000, approximately 13.000-20.000 Euro, to get their “wife”. Through this process of marriage into Taiwan, a system for “commoditised transnational marriages” (X^^ ’ 2000 > X 39) was created. The woman who immigrated to Taiwan became known as so-called “mail-order brides ^^^<(you gou xTn niang)” or “foreign brides ^#^<(wai j^ xTn niang)” (Lai 1992, Glodava and Onizuka 1994, Constable 2003 sited in X^^ ’ 2000, pp.48).

From the 1960s until the 1990s, Taiwan's government did not have extensive laws in place to protect these migrants. Private agencies abused this opportunity to profit excessively, without thinking of how the new life in Taiwan would be like for the “mail-order brides”.(X^^ ’ 2005) In the beginning of the 1990s, the Taiwanese government started to put some policies into effect to tackle and limit this new phenomenon. The Taiwanese policy changed again in 2004 when the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education publicly denounced these transnational marriages as troublesome and urged the“ foreign brides” to control their fertility, as their children's poor educational level would deteriorate the education level of the Taiwanese population. (X^^ ’ 2000) Since 2004, the Taiwanese government tried to pass on the responsibility of helping these international marriages by providing higher funding to NGOs. 2005)

Most “mail-order brides” have no friends, family, or people to rely on in Taiwan. Often, the only person they know is their husband who they have only met once before they arrive. Some of them learn Mandarin or English before they came to Taiwan, but most don't know any major language which is spoken in Taiwan. Furthermore, most have not been to Taiwan before and therefore, they also don't know Taiwan's culture and its way of life. The Taiwanese government also did not have an extensive social protection to help or support them. According to all these issues, one can easily imagine that the “mail-order brides” who come to Taiwan have to face many challenges such as, the new culture, language barriers, difficulties in trying to create a social network. Even eating habits became a situation of possible conflict as dining customs are an essential aspect of the Taiwanese culture. (Hsia Hsiao-Chuan,2007)

This research uses the Ethnography method to analyse the integration of the so called “mail order brides” based on interviews held with eight different Southeast Asian women. These women were four Vietnamese, one Chinese, one Malaysian, one Indonesian, and one woman from Myanmar who had lived in Taiwan for more than 20 years. The interviews about their experiences were conducted in their working place or at home. Furthermore, this research includes an observation conducted during the interview placing attention on how they react to the Taiwanese society. The observation and information from the interviews were summarized in a research diary which also included a self-reflection of the researcher. A main focus is put on the marriage life of the New Inhabitant woman and their integration into the Taiwanese society.

Specific questions were used as a guideline for this research: How does the arrangement of marriage through an agency work and how did it change from the 1960s until 2020? How did the government change its policy in order to help the “mail order brides” in Taiwan? How do “mail-order brides” integrate into the Taiwanese society? How do they feel and think of themselves as being the Taiwanese?

The Phenomenon of New Inhabitants in Taiwan

In the late 1980s, many workers started to feel the benefit of the industrial boom and saw an increase in their life quality. At the same time, the Taiwanese government also created laws in order to increase immigration and thus make it easier for foreigners to obtain VISAs. As a result, many Southeast Asian women decided to marry the Taiwanese men because they hoped to escape their native country's poverty which was intensified by globalization. Often Globalization goes hand in hand with privatization, deregulation, and liberalization of industries, which often lead to a decrease in the working conditions and change of survival for the vast majority of labourers. Furthermore, millions of people were driven into poverty when they were not able to pay back the loans handed out by the World Bank and the IMF. These loans were handed out to developing countries in the promise of boosting their development by carrying out SAPs. However, this lead to a distorted development in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries which put farmers and labourers under increasing economic pressure and forced them to find work abroad. Women in Southeast Asia were forced to find work outside of their native countries or escape their economic distress through transnational marriages(X^^ ’ 2008).1

According to the Ministry of Interior (2019), 240,837 foreign spouses entered Taiwan between 1987 and 2003, including those from Southeast Asia (42.2%) and Mainland China (57.8%). Ninety-three percent of these foreign spouses are women. Among those from Southeast Asia, 57.5% are from Vietnam, 23.2% from Indonesia, 5.3% from Thailand, 5.3% from the Philippines, and other 8,7% from different Southeast Asia countries. Until the end of 2019, there have been 557,450 marriages with transnational spouses. The year with the highest number of transnational marriages was in 2013 when every fourth marriage was between a Taiwanese and a spouse from another country.

As there was such a high number of foreign spouses coming to Taiwan, the media started to create a new term for them which was the “foreign bride” or “mail-order bride” Even though these terms are the most commonly used names in Taiwan they have a very disparaging meaning and are used exclusively for women from Third World countries (The term developing countries was not used as in Taiwan media and research use the concept third world countries)2. Because of the discriminating connotation, the Taiwanese NGOs advocated for changing the term. In 2007, the TransAsia Sisters Association, together with experts from the area and the International organization Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, held the International Conference on Border Control and Empowerment of Immigrant Brides. At this conference it was proposed to change the term to foreign spouse (^#B^ wai j^ pei ou), instead of a foreign bride or mail-order bride. (Hsia Hsiao-Chuan,2007)

This suggestion was then adopted by the Taiwanese government. Even though the name was changed, the Taiwanese NGOs continued the dialogue with the foreign spouses in order to find a term for how they would like to call themselves and be called by other people. Therefore, in 2012 the National Immigration Agency officially announced the new term of “New Inhabitant (xTn zhu 2015). For that reason, the title of this research had been modified by replacing “Mail Order bride: Migration to Taiwan“ for “The Taiwanese New Inhabitant: Integration in Taiwan“.

Society's Image of the New Inhabitants

When the first New Inhabitants came to Taiwan, the Taiwanese media constructed a negative narrative around the “foreign brides phenomenon” and presented them as a social problem. The brides were portrayed either as passive victims or materialist “gold-diggers f^^<(tao jTn zhe)” who are prone to committing crimes. Meanwhile, the grooms were portrayed as the “social undesirables” with physical or mental disabilities and as morally inferior. At the time, the media overflowed with stories of “run-away foreign brides”, of “divorce and domestic violence”. This narrative has led to a widely negative social image of the New Inhabitants by presenting them as either taking the Taiwanese money or as really poor and problematic. (Hsiao-Chuan HSIA, 2008)

In one incident in April 2006, a legislator even went as far as publicly arguing that because the US military used a lot of chemical weapons during the Vietnam War, which caused Vietnamese women to give birth to deformed children, politicians should consider that the foreign brides in Taiwan might still have poison in their bodies. As their Taiwanese spouses were mostly from a weak economical background, or had physical and mental disorders, this could affect the quality of the new Taiwanese children. Therefore, the government should not waste taxpayer's money by supporting foreign brides who may have serious health problems. (City News, 2006)3 As politicians generally have a high reputation in Taiwan, the public depreciation of the New Inhabitants and the media propaganda about them have further entrenched the stereotypes that many Taiwanese people have towards the New Inhabitants.

NGOs are trying to counter this narrative and advocate for the rights of these New Inhabitants. However, for example, the initiative to change the name used towards these women was rather on behalf of the NGO's and not directly from the women themselves. Furthermore, these women feel that the stereotypes about them are not less supported but instead less directly expressed by the population. During the interviews, the women stated how the Taiwanese population doesn't discriminate or harass them in public anymore but they traced this back to the higher number of immigrants and not to a change in the public opinion about them. (Hsiao-Chuan HSIA, 2007)

Despite the effort to change societies image towards these women and in spite of the fact that the stereotypes are less directly expressed, discrimination and harassment still persists nowadays. (Chih- Jou Jay Chen; Ka U Ng, 2017) In the 2019 Taiwan's presidential election, the KMT's candidate stated that while “all the Phoenix had left the country, all the chicken4 had come to Taiwan“. That is to say, KMT's candidate emphasised how valuable Taiwanese people emigrate to Western countries and only unproductive and unavailing Southeast Asian people come to stay in Taiwan. In summary, due to not only the social climate image towards New Inhabitants but also because of the political attacks, one can argue that the ‘New Inhabitant Phenomenon' has generally been accepted as a ‘social problem' by the mainstream Taiwanese society. ’ 2019)

Why Taiwanese Men are Willing to Marry a Foreign Woman

In this Chapter, several reasons for the increasing number of Taiwanese men marrying foreign spouses are presented. First of all, it is seen as a statement of the husband's low social-economic status because the majority are either farmers or blue­collar workers. Taiwan gradually began to take on the characteristics of a semi­peripheral country in the 1980s, as it became increasingly incorporated into the world's capitalist system. During this period, Taiwan began to exploit southeast Asian and other peripheral countries. At the same time, globalization began to push liberalization, privatization, and deregulation, which resulted in a distorted economic development in southeast Asian countries and a great number of unemployed agricultural and industrial laborers. The poverty resulting from globalization was not as serious in Taiwan as it was in Southeast Asian countries but the agricultural sector in Taiwan was no longer a viable field of employment for many workers, as it was too heavily hit by the combined effects of urbanization, industrialization and the international pressure on agriculture. As a result, many low-skilled agricultural and industrial laborers found survival increasingly difficult and, therefore, they were in an extremely disadvantaged position in Taiwan's domestic marriage market. (X^^ 2001 ; X^^ ’ 2000)

This situation led to the creation of private agencies who took this opportunity to make profit from men who were unable to find a wife. In order to create more business, the private agencies began propagating a fictitious image of Southeast Asian women to make them seem more interesting for men in Taiwan. The agencies advertised traditional character traits such as, women who listen to their husbands, respect them, take care of their parents, and cook for them. On the other hand, when looking for marriage candidates in Southeast Asia, the agencies created an image of Taiwan as a rich and prosperous country where people lead a comfortable life. M2006)

In addition, Taiwan's culture also has an influence on the domestic marriage market. Sharing positive things is an important part of the Taiwanese culture, expressed in the saying (Tsiah ho tau sio-po). It means that if someone experiences something good then they will pass this information on to other people. If you apply this concept to the New Inhabitant phenomenon one can understand that if someone marries a Vietnamese woman who listens and cares etc., they will share this information on to the next person and therefore, foster the idea of considering having a foreign bride. («^ 2004 ; 2005)

Another aspect that had an influence on the Taiwanese marriage market was a custom in the Taiwanese culture, expressed in the saying “H</#” (men dang hu dui), which states that couples should come from families of equal social and economic status. During the 1990s, the Taiwanese feminist movement began to be influenced by western countries and woman's chances to educate themselves rose and their working possibilities increased. Therefore, many the Taiwanese women preferred to go abroad in order to study more or to get a glimpse and feeling of the way of life in western countries. This put a lot of Taiwanese women into a new social category which led to the situation of many Taiwanese men not being able to find a women from the same social status. Many Taiwanese men from a low educational and economic background, as well as older people who were single, found it difficult to find a match in Taiwan. This problem was further increased as it was still very important at that time that both sides of the family agree on the marriage. Consequently, most of the woman's families would not agree that their daughter married someone who is not from an equal status. (I^M£ 2002 ; 2003 ; 2005)

Another significant cultural aspect that influences The Taiwanese men's pressure to get married are the two cultural understandings, “#^^K (chuan zong jie dai)” and (yang er fang lao)”. The first one refers to the strive of carrying on the ancestral line by keeping the family name alive and the second, states that it is important to bring up children in order to have someone to look after you in old age. Instead of being single for their whole life marrying a woman from Southeast Asia was a simple and fast possibility to satisfy these cultural expectations. 2006) The last reason is the high number of retired soldiers, the so-called “Rongmin Who previously participated in the War of Resistance against Japan and in the Civil War between the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Communist Party of China and then escaped to Taiwan after the KMT lost. These soldiers were mostly of old age and some were disabled when they moved to Taiwan with the Kuomintang. According to 2012, the average age of the Rongmin's was 74.6 years old in 2005, which means that most of them were around 50- 60 years old in 1990. As shown in the previous paragraph, this old age made it hard for them to find Taiwanese women. Especially when considering the fact that in Taiwanese culture women are expected to get married and have a family when they are around 20 years old. Furthermore, many people have prejudices against the Rongmins such as seeing them as Chinese spies that want to turn Taiwan into a Communist regime. Therefore, it's even harder for Rongmins to find a Taiwanese wife and many found the solution by contacting these new private agencies and arranging a marriage with a foreign bride. («^ 2004)

Taiwanese Imigration Policies and their Influence on the Development of Private Marriage Agencies

Since the 1960s, Taiwan's labor market opened up to the outside world which made it possible for international workers to work and stay in Taiwan through working VISAs. From the 1960s until 1990, migrants could also apply for Marriage Visas to come to Taiwan and marry Taiwanese men in Taiwan. However, at the end of the 1980s, the Taiwanese government stopped issuing Visas to single women from Southeast Asia, as several women were arrested for engaging in prostitution after coming to Taiwan on tourist visas. Since then, Taiwanese men who were searching for foreign brides had to go themselves to the bride's country of origin. This policy was in favor of the private agencies, as they were necessary to help Taiwanese men find their brides. (X^^ ’ 2000)

In 1999, the Ministry of Interior signed into effect the “Immigration Act Law” which was set up to prevent human trafficking and illegal immigration to Taiwan. This law made it harder for migrants to come to Taiwan. However, this only increased business for private companies, on whose help migrants were now dependent on to come to Taiwan and many of which operated illegally. 2016)

In 2008, the Taiwanese Legislature passed a law called “Regulations Governing Juridical Persons and Non-Profit Juridical Associations Brokering Transnational Marriages”. This law's aim is to prevent migrants from being used in human trafficking, mostly by private agencies. Before the law came into effect, there were 254 companies doing migration marriage arrangements, afterwards only 34 companies were allowed to continue operating legally, as data from the Ministry of the Interior shows. (&$-^,£ffl&<X#$-,2019)

Yet, some private agencies kept providing their services illegally because the government did not threaten with any serious punishment for breaking the law. An example of this low punishment is that between the years 2014 to 2018, 53 illegal advertisement cases were reported, for which the average fine was only NT81,000 (about 2,400Euro). Furthermore, between 2009 to 2018 there were only 511 reported cases of illegal distribution of international marriage advertisements. The fact that only 511 cases were reported after almost ten years and the low punishment for breaking the law begs the question of how much effort the Taiwanese government actually puts into preventing the illegal companies from brokering international marriage arrangements.

In 2019, the new president of Taiwan announced a change to the lastly mentioned law by introducing more severe punishments. For example, the fines were doubled, and the agency's approval could be revoked. As the law has only been changed one year ago, it is not possible to judge its effectiveness and see the impact on the market. ,2018)

The Process of Arranged Marriages

One process which was outlined in one of these private agencies' website 5stated that the men should inform the company about which country they prefer their future bride to come from and the agency will afterwards inform them about the date of the meeting. The Taiwanese man then has to prepare all the documents, such as the eligibility to marry. Afterwards, the agency arranges the flight to the bride's country and also plans the whole schedule for the visit. During the meeting with the foreign woman, if the foreign woman and the Taiwanese man are willing to marry, the Taiwanese man could already give the engagement money to the agency's representative and wait for the foreign bride to come to Taiwan to finish the marriage documents. The common prices paid to the agency vary between the different countries and range between NT300,000 to 500,000 (about 9000 Euro to 15,000 Euro).

These agencies would arrange one to three meetings between the men and their multiple possible brides and afterwards the agencies would provide support with the necessary legal documents to get married. However, usually only one meeting was arranged. (X^^ > 2009)

Theoretical Approach to Understanding Migration

Lee's Push and Pull Theory

Everett Spurgeon Lee, Professor of Sociology at the University of Georgia is known for his theory of migration called the Push and Pull Theory or also as Lee's Theory. The theory, which is based on the principles of sociology, attempts to formulate a ‘theory' of migration which is able to provide a list of factors that can explain what influences people to migrate from one country to another. According to Lee, the decision of individuals to migrate and the process of migration are associated with four categories. These categories are: (1) Factors associated with the area of origin; (2) Factors associated with the area of destination; (3) Intervening obstacles; and (4) Personal factors. (Lee as mentioned in Rashid Raridi April 2018)

Lee classifies these categories in push and pull factors. These factors are forces that either encourage people to move to a new location or forces that encourage them to leave their country of origin. They could be economic, political, cultural, and environmental etc. Push factors are conditions that can force people to leave their homes and are related to the country from which a person migrates. Push factors include the non-availability of enough livelihood opportunities, poverty, rapid population growth that surpasses available resources, or poor living conditions, desertification, famines/droughts, fear of political persecution, poor healthcare, loss of wealth, or natural disasters. Pull factors are exactly the opposite of push factors as they attract people to move to a certain location. Typical examples of pull factors are better job and better living opportunities, easy availability of land for settling and agriculture, political or religious freedom, improved education and welfare systems, better healthcare system, and security. (Lee,1966)

Intervening obstacles also play a part in migrants' decisions to move to another county. These obstacles are related to things that could hind er people's access to a specific country. For example, lack of transport facilities, inaccessibility due to topography, such as mountains or other physical barriers, and restrictive immigration laws. The migration flow could be reduced in the presence of such obstacles. A potential migrant will evaluate the possible opportunities and obstacles which exist and according to this evaluation decide to migrate to another country or stay in their country of origin. Therefore, the amount of migration from one place to another is associated not only with the distance between two countries but also with the number of opportunities or obstacles which exist. (Lee,1966)

The following chart (Figure1) illustrates these push and pull factors. Researchers have applied the Push and Pull Theory in order to explain the phenomenon of the New Inhabitants. For example, according to (2002), Southeast Asian women often name reasons associated with pull factors to justify their desire to move to Taiwan.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1 Lee's Push and Pull Factors

Source: Lee, E. (1966). A Theory of Migration. Demography, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 50

Wallerstein's World-Systems Theory

Taiwanese businessmen started expanding their businesses to Mainland China in 1991. Therefore, Taiwan became one of the major investment destinations in Asia, especially for China. In this context, another theoretical model can be applied which is Wallerstein's World Systems theory from 1974. The model sees development and migration in the context of a global capitalist system and consists of three different levels, core, periphery, and semi-periphery. The core level represents regions which have higher levels of education, higher salaries, and higher levels of technology. This amount of power and profit of these regions has been gained by exploiting the raw materials and cheap labour of the semi-periphery and periphery regions. The periphery level is made up of the regions which have the lowest levels of education, salaries, etc. and is exploited by the core and semi-periphery levels. The semi­periphery level is made up of the places where both core and periphery processes are occurring. An illustration of this Model can be seen in figure 2. In this context, Taiwan could be considered an area from the “Semi-periphery” level because of its trend to exploit Southeast Asian countries for cheap labour. Whereas it is also exploited by Japan, Korea and China. (#M< 2004)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2: Wallerstein's World System Theory Model

Source: Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein,The Modern World System, 1974

By introducing cheap labor from Southeast Asia, the cost of labor was reduced significantly. However, this additional free movement of labor into Taiwan also led to the native population having to compete in the job market. The brunt of the impact was mostly felt in rural areas, the countryside and places where the educational level was low. This economical impact in relation to the traditional and patriarchal system, that was predominant in Taiwan at the time, made it difficult for men coming from these areas to find a partner. Which in the long run fostered the idea of considering a transnational marriage. (X^^ 2002)

Although Wallerstein separated the world in different levels, critics have questioned if the world economy can really be seen as a dichotomy. Taiwan is associated with the semi-periphery level. However, can one truly categorize it as a powerful country at a globalised level or is Taiwan merely powerful at a regional level? (#M< 2004) For example, Japan can more clearly be linked to the Core Level due to its stronger international trade relations. On the other hand, the economic system of Taiwan has only developed strong economical links to China and Southeast Asia. Therefore, putting into question if its power is truly global or simply regional. (Ching, 2000 cited in #«(2004)).

Migration Network Theory

“Research on migration has established that social networks are often an important deciding factor of migration plans and the choice of destination” (Banerjee 1983; Bo'cker 1994; Boyd 1989; Bu'hrer 1997; Faist 1997; Fawcett 1989; Toney 1978; Wilpert 1992, as cited in Kazi Abdul, Mannan and A. O, Krueger, 1998, p.57 ). These Migrant networks are characterized as sets of interpersonal relationships that connect migrants, non-migrants, and former migrants in webs of kinship, friendship, and shared background. (Granovetter, 1973) “The social network paves the way for establishing transnational migration networks” (Faist 1997; as cited in Kazi Abdul, Mannan and A. O, Krueger, 1998, p.56). The interaction of migrants in these networks brings advantages such as reducing the costs and risks of moving. (Sonja Haug, 2008) Furthermore, social networks are a source of information, financial assistance, and support for those considering moving or those that need psychological support on arrival. The Migration Network theory is also relevant for this research as the social network of the Southeast Asian women in Taiwan can become a means through which other Southeast Asian women get information on how to marry Taiwanese men. (Brendan P. Mullan, Chun-Hao Li, Rita S. Gallin and Bernard Gallin, 1998)

Migration systems and network theories acknowledge three important factors. First of all, people migrating to a new country tends to be more common in countries where people are facing an economical crisis and poor living conditions. For example, Vietnamese citizens moving to Taiwan in hopes of a higher quality of life. In those cases, the movement is not limited to individual examples but rather attracts larger groups of people. The second point is that migration can occur in a circular pattern which means that migration does not only happen in one generation or to one member of a family but instead can occur multiple times throughout different generations. The last point is understanding that migration processes can involve individuals gaining new social networks in host countries where their own country men become some kind of support. (Michaela Benson, Karen O'Reilly, 2016)

There are three significant aspects related to social networks that influence migrants' decisions to move to another country. First of all, the existence of relatives and friends in the place of origin reduces the tendency to migrate. That is to say, social networks existing in their country of origin are a preventive factor for migration. Secondly, social networks existing in their place of residence can also be a push factor. For example, when family conflicts exist or when the family encourages members to migrate in order to find work. The last factor which can influence migrants' decisions to migrate is if migrants already have relatives and friends abroad. In these cases, the likelihood to migrate increases as it is easier to join their friends and relatives in another country. This means that social networks existing in destination countries can become a pull factor. (Haug, 2008)

This theory can be applied to migrants in Taiwan. Things are always much more difficult for migrant pioneers, in this case, the first foreign brides. They have to decide where to go and how to find work quickly. Pioneer migrants are confronted with exceptionally high costs and risks because migration networks which can be resourceful for them do not yet exist. However, after the 1990s, more and more foreign brides came to Taiwan. These migrants started to establish their own network and provided information about the life in Taiwan through the network. After 2004, even more, migrants came to Taiwan via having information from their family or friends who lived in Taiwan (Michaela Benson, Karen O'Reilly, 2016)

The History of Migration Policies in Taiwan

The History of the National Immigration Agency

In 1938, the Nationalist government (known as KMT nowadays) lost the war in China and moved to Taiwan. After the national government relocated to Taiwan, the Entry and Exit Control Department was established and became the responsible authority for border control in 1952. Before the department was established, foreigners entering and exiting the country were controlled separately, as were the applications of entry and exit to the country for the Taiwanese military personnel. The department was then renamed “Entry and Exit Bureau” and moved under the control of the National Police Agency. In 2007, the bureau was restructured into The Entry and Exit and Immigration Agency and was placed under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior. On January 2nd, 2015, this Agency was restructured and the name was changed to the National Immigration Agency (NIA). In order to understand Taiwanese immigration policy and its system it is important to understand Taiwan's relationship with China. Taiwan's relationship with China had a clear influence on the development of Taiwan's immigration policies. January 22,2019)

Military Personnel and Civilians Controlled Separately (Feb. 1949 - Apr. 1952)

During this period, a strict rule for Entry and Exit management was in effect. In 1949, the Taiwan interim Garrison Command and the Taiwanese interim Government jointly announced the Martial Law, Article 11, sec 9 “Temporary Regulations Governing Entry Permit for Military and Civil Servants of Taiwan Province” which defined the protocol for border entry control. Most of this regulation was aimed at preventing the communist party from entering Taiwan. Another aspect which this law aimed to prevent was the possibility of the population decreasing. Therefore, they created the “Registration Governing Exit for Military, Civil Servants and Passengers of Taiwan Province” to control people wanting to leave Taiwan. The Taiwan border control system was built in this period. It was divided into two parts: Civil Servants and Civilians, and Military and Military Dependents. People with these two different identities submitted their entry applications to the Taiwan Province Police Department and Taiwan Garrison Command. Due to the strict verification system, the numbers of travelers exiting the border were about 30.000 in 1949, 9.800 in 1950 and dropped to 4.000 in 1951. (^ January 22,2019 )

Under the Department of Defense (Apr. 1952-Sep. 1972)

On April 16th, 1952, the Inspector Office of Taiwan Province Public Order Headquarters merged with the Travel Office of Taiwan Province Police Affairs Office and became the Taiwan Province Public Order Headquarters Military Personnel and Civilians Exit and Entry United Scrutiny Department. This new agency was under the responsibility of the Ministry of National Defense.

In March 1957, the Executive Yuan, one of the three branches of government, issued the Regulation of Entry and Exit of the Taiwan Area during the Period of National Mobilization to suppress the Communist Rebellion and changed the “Military Personnel and Civilians Exit and Entry United Scrutiny Department” to the “Entry and Exit Control Department”. (^ January 22,2019 )

In July 1958, The Taiwan Garrison Command was established. The Entry and Exit Control Department moved under the Garrison Command Headquarters and became responsible for managing border control affairs. It was renamed Entry and Exit Control Department. During this time, the number of travelers exiting the border increased. In 1967, the number went over 100,000 travelers and in 1971 it reached 200,000. January 22,2019)

Under the National Police Agency (Sep. 1972- Jan. 2007)

In September 1972, the border control affairs were transferred from a military system to the National Police Agency and renamed as the Entry and Exit Bureau and the National Police Agency. It set up a logistics office, an administrative affairs office, a public security office and seven other units which were responsible for the citizens' entry and exit applications.

Due to the increase in GDP, citizens were allowed to go abroad for travelling purposes. At the beginning, only those who were studying, visiting relatives or doing business could cross the border. By 1973, the number of travelers crossing the border reached 340,000 and over 400,000 in 1975. By the year 1981, the number of travelers going abroad was over one million.

Martial Law was lifted in 1987 and by the end of the year, theTaiwanese citizens were allowed to visit relatives in mainland China. People of Mainland China were also allowed to visit Taiwan if permitted. At that time, the living standard in Taiwan was better than that of Mainland China and therefore, many Mainland Chinese fishermen longed for living in Taiwan and attempted to enter Taiwan illegally. During this period, detaining and deporting Chinese illegal immigrants became a new burden for the police, especially because diplomatic relations were still tense between China and Taiwan and there was no official agreement in regard to handling illegal Chinese migrants. In 1993 and 1994, the number of Chinese immigrating illegally had reached a high point.

As marrying a Taiwanese citizen made it much easier to enter Taiwan, a huge increase in marriage applications could be observed which also included fraudulent marriages. Therefore, on May 21st 1999, an Immigration Act was passed, which proposed that immigration affairs should be handled by the Ministry of the Interior and a National Immigration Agency should be created. The National Immigration Agency Law was drafted at the same time. This law had the intention of controlling human trafficking which was being taken place through fake marriages. On November 30th, 2005, the president announced the Organization Act which grounded the establishment of the National Immigration Agency. (January 22,2019)

Under the Ministry of the Interior (Since January 2007)

On January 2nd, 2007, the NIA was established from the former Entry and Exit Bureau. The NIA expanded its field and took over the certification services from the Overseas Community Affairs Council, the care and assistance of immigrants from the Department of Household Registration, the passport and travel documents inspection service from the Aviation Police Bureau and the Chinese and foreign residents affairs from the National Police Agency. Some staff transferred from the departments mentioned above to the NIA.

According to the NIA's new structure, four divisions were set up: Entry & Exit Affairs Division, Immigration Affairs Division, International Affairs Division and the Immigration Information Division. The position of the NIA shifted from a police authority to a general administrative authority and its responsibility included border security control and assistance of immigrants, cross-strait interactions, international interaction, cooperation, protecting human rights of immigrants and promoting immigration policies. In order to implement the care and assistance of immigrants, to enhance and ensure the human rights of immigrants, and to prevent labor and sexual exploitation, the NIA expanded its responsibility and included foreign and Chinese spouse assistance and human trafficking prevention under their duty.

From the history of the NIA, it becomes clear that policies concerning immigration is heavily dependent on the relationship between Taiwan and China. Due to the war and martial law, which was in place when the KMT took over Taiwan, earlier migrations policies were focused on limiting migration to Taiwan in order to prevent China's influence in the country. Once the cross-strait relationship became more diplomatic, migration policies were less restrictive. January 22,2019)

Migration Law in Taiwan

The Immigration Act was promulgated on May 21st, 1999. This law was set up to control migrants coming to Taiwan with the goal of controlling the migrant population. In 2002, §10 §23 and §70 of the Immigration Act law were changed and now added the obligation that foreign spouses had to live with their husband and his family without exception. Also their resident permits were reliant on the marriage to their Taiwanese spouses. Furthermore, the government could regularly send inspectors to private houses in order to ensure that they were still living together and that it was a true marriage. From that point on, if the couple divorced, these migrant women would also lose their resident permits. Only if they had a child before the divorce and if they also had guardianship over the child, would they be permitted to stay in Taiwan. However, this law was a setback for the New Inhabitants' rights, as it made them more susceptible to domestic violence. Many women were too afraid to report to the police or search for help as it could lead to them losing their resident and working permit if their marriage ended in divorce. The law was changed in 2009 to address this problem and with this change there was a possibility for the New Inhabitants to retain their resident permit if they got divorced due to domestic violence. • 2016)

Another law that has an impact on the New Inhabitants is the Nationality Act. Particularly article 3, which states that applicants of naturalization generally have to be financially independent or be adults with expertise in certain areas. The requirements for naturalization are described below:

1. “have legally resided in the territory of the ROC for more than 183 days each year for at least five consecutive years;
2. are aged 20 or above and legally competent in accordance with the laws of both the ROC and their original nation;
3. have demonstrated good moral character and have no criminal record;
4. possess sufficient property or professional skills to support themselves and lead a stable life; and
5. possess basic proficiency in the national language of the ROC and basic knowledge of the rights and obligations of ROC nationals.” December 2016)

Concerning point 3, the Ministry of the Interior should establish an assessment criteria, such as input from experts, scholars and impartial individuals to help determine the morality of the person in question. Regarding point 5, the Ministry of the Interior shall establish an assessment criteria such as tests, define the conditions for test exemptions and set test fees. (Law & Regulations Database of The Republic of China) Another article in the Nationality Act that has an impact on the New Inhabitants is article 9, which states that “Foreign nationals applying for naturalization shall provide a certificate of loss of original nationality within one year from the day of approval of naturalization or from the day of reaching the age at which they may renounce nationality under the law of their original country. Failure to submit a certificate of loss of original nationality within the prescribed period shall result in the revocation of the approval of naturalization. However, an application for a deadline extension may be filed in the event of inability to submit said certificate due to legal or administrative restrictions of their original country as verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign nationals shall not be allowed to reside in Taiwan prior to the submission of a certificate of loss of original nationality as prescribed in the preceding two paragraphs. Foreign nationals may be exempted from submitting a certificate of loss of original nationality if any of the following circumstances apply:

1. They apply for naturalization pursuant to Article 6.
2. They are high-level professionals in the technological, economic, educational, cultural, art, sports, or other domains who have been recommended by the central competent authority, whose specialties are deemed to serve the interests of the ROC, and who have been approved through a joint review organized by the Ministry of the Interior and conducted by relevant agencies and impartial individuals.
3. They are unable to obtain a certificate of loss of original nationality for reasons not attributable to them. Standards to define high-level professionals as referred to in Subparagraph 2 of the preceding paragraph shall be prescribed by the Ministry of the Interior.”

>, December 2016, 105 < 1 $ 4298 M)

Until May 2016 there were 105 stateless people in Taiwan due to this law. HfC^M)5 6 According to the NIA, there are around 500 stateless people in Taiwan. (2016,May) However, there are more than 100,000 stateless people in Taiwan not being reported.(^^H'J)' This shows a loophole in Taiwan's law as it doesn't protect migrants.

The Governmental Social Welfare System

In 2002, a government commissioned report showed that many children with a migrational background were not able to follow the normal educational curriculum and lowered the general quality of Taiwan's education. Therefore, in 2003 the head of the executive Yuan announced the establishment of the Foreign Spouse Care and Guidance Fund. This program started in 2005, under the Ministry of the Interior, and aims to support migrant women who are integrating into the Taiwanese society. The program provides counselling services, language classes and educational assistance for migrant women. The government invested 3 billion NT dollars for a duration of ten years in this program. > 2010)

According to 2008, the government policy respected the views of academics and NGOs, as the needs of migrants in Taiwan were recognized through setting up this fund. After the government announced the program, in 2006, every city in Taiwan set up an “Immigration Family Service Center” to provide assistance. In 2015, this program's name changed to the “Development Funds for Immigrants” and the fund was set to 1 billion NT dollars. The assistance also switched and instead of helping individuals they started to provide funds according to each families' needs. The purpose was to establish a social security network and offer appropriate guidance and training. Some of the funded projects included “Social Security Network for Immigrants,” “Propaganda about Family Learning, Nursery, Cultural Diversity and Related Issues,” “Family Service Centers” and “Innovative Services, Training and Activation of the Industrial Network by Immigrants”.

There are several services carried out by different governmental administrations. For example, the Ministry of the Education sets up projects to improve the educational level of migrants. Such projects are language classes for adults or after school support for migrants' children. Another governmental agency is the Taiwan Center for Disease Control which provides a general health check for migrants. Such as, free vaccination for new born children. Furthermore, the Ministry of Labor provides training for migrants to learn new skills, apply for unemployment benefits and informs them about their working rights. These services do not only apply to the foreign spouses but also to their children. ; ^<^>^^^,2010)

In 1999, the Ministry of Interior also set up, in every major city, centers to provide support to victims of domestic and/or sexual assault and to carry out prevention projects. These centers do not only provide services to the Taiwanese people but also to the migrant spouses who suffer from domestic violence. Furthermore, the government started a hotline for women facing domestic violence and sexual assault. According to the ministry of the interior report of 2010, 8267 women with a migrational background suffered from domestic violence. «Ma^,2019)

With the establishment of the NIA, issues regarding migration were managed more systematically and more counselling was provided. In 2007, Taiwan signed the UN Convention on the CEDAW to prevent any discrimination against women especially discrimination against migrant women. (#^^^M^,2018)

In 2016, the new president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, put into effect the New Southbound Policy The aim of this policy was to improve the Taiwanese economy by boosting their trade relations with Southeast Asian countries. One of the main focuses was to encourage the exchange of professionals between Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries and to promote the teaching of Southeast Asian languages


1 Beyond victimization: the empowerment of ‘foreign brides' in resisting capitalist globalization, Vol. 1, No. 2, July 2008, 130-148

2 MX^,Mt^#(February.15. 2018) ° Retrieved from

3 ^^tt ’ City news(April 01.2006)M4^«-&#4-0 Retrieved from

4 chicken In Chinese could also mean hooker

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The integration of new immigrants in Taiwan. An interview-based analysis
University of Applied Sciences at Schweinfurt  (Faculty of Applied Social Sciences: International Social Work with Refugees and Migrants (M. A.))
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Cheng-Hsiang Hsueh (Author), 2020, The integration of new immigrants in Taiwan. An interview-based analysis, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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