Beijing Thursday welcomed Taipei's approval of a draft rule to grant permanent residency to more Chinese mainland spouses of Taiwanese and to do so more quickly.
"We welcome any move that is conducive to the development of cross-Straits relations and strengthening the kinship among people on both sides," said an official with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council who refused to be identified.
The rule will go into effect on January 1.
According to the rule, which was drafted in response to applicants' demands, a quota will no longer be set for those who have been awaiting approval for more than four years and have legally lived in Taiwan for more than two years.
About 2,300 people will be able to obtain their residency next year under this set of rules, China News Service reported.
The annual quota for Chinese mainland spouses of Taiwanese who are granted permanent-residence status under current rules is 3,660.
The new rule will shorten the time for a Chinese mainland spouse to obtain permanent residency from between 13 and 15 years to eight years.
Spouses must travel to the island on visitor visas before they are granted residency rights.
According to the Statute Governing the Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, Chinese mainland spouses of Taiwanese can apply for residency under two sets of rules:
Spouses can apply if they have been married and have lived in Taiwan for two consecutive years.
They also can apply if they receive approval from authorities based on their special political, economic, social, educational, scientific or cultural background.
The draft did not set a quota for Chinese mainland spouses who got married before December 31, 1949. As of October, 655 people in this category had applied for residency.
The yearly quota set for those married after January 1, 1950, and who remain married for more than two years or have children will stay at 3,600.
The annual quota set for those who have a special background will remain at 60. As of October, more than 120 in this category were on a waiting list.
Once the draft takes effect, it is estimated that the number of Chinese mainland wanting to gain permanent residency will reach 9,500 next year, 9,300 in 2003 and 11,000 in 2004.
(China Daily December 14, 2001)