Premier Sean Chen was briefed by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) at a May 24 Cabinet meeting on the support it has provided to foreign and mainland Chinese spouses of Taiwanese citizens as they adapt to Taiwan's living environment. Afterward, he indicated that Taiwan has become a pluralistic immigrant society and that the measures taken by the government to assist foreign and mainland spouses have reaped positive results. He also promoted the Nationwide New Residents Torch Plan, which is expected to provide more advanced and comprehensive care and services, and asked the MOI to implement it proactively.
The premier pointed out that according to MOI statistics, 9.7 percent of children born in the country between 1998 and 2011 had a foreign or mainland parent, which indicates that Taiwan has evolved into a pluralistic immigrant society. He also noted that according to a report by the Economist, Taiwan has a high rate of international marriages (13.01 percent as of the end of 2011) compared to other Asian countries. "These new residents have not only contributed to Taiwan's society and families by shouldering the responsibility of bringing up the next generation; they have also enriched the nation's cultural tapestry," he said.
"The issues which concern new immigrants are diverse and complex," Chen stated. "Ministries should not only actively deliberate them but also review current programs as necessary and present concrete and effective new measures to further help immigrants integrate into Taiwanese life. As they do, a culturally diverse Taiwan will take root, and the ideal of ethnic harmony may be realized."
Chen stressed that in addition to assisting foreign and mainland spouses and their children, the MOI should redouble its efforts to educate Taiwanese spouses and other citizens about foreign people and cultures in order to reduce discrimination.
According to the MOI, as of March 2012, the number of foreign and mainland spouses in Taiwan is 462,360, and their children number 340,104. The government currently offers assistance to foreign and mainland spouses in eight major fields—daily life adjustment, medical care, protection of employment rights, education and cultural knowledge building, childrearing assistance, personal safety protection, legal aid and information services—with each promoted by relevant ministries.
The MOI launched the Nationwide New Residents Torch Plan this March with a view to further supporting the creation of a friendly and harmonious multicultural society. As part of the plan, the Ministry of Education has pledged NT$40 million to help finance the education of foreign and mainland spouses' children. The MOI will use NT$160 million of its foreign spouse care fund to integrate the resources of public schools, social administrations and private organizations in order to provide a comprehensive care and service network to new residents and their children as well as their spouses, families and communities. The government will also reach out to native citizens by striving to cultivate considerate and respectful attitudes towards new residents and their families and using education to help the next generation appreciate diversity from a young age.