Cou­ples tie knot across Straits

Love finds ways to cross dif­fer­ences, re­port Sun Li and Hu Meidong in Jin­jiang, Fu­jian.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FOCUS -

Hong Shuangfei is of­ten re­luc­tant to dis­cuss her mar­riage, even though it’s more than two decades since she tied the knot. The 39-year-old’s re­luc­tance stems from the fact that re­call­ing the cir­cum­stances of the wed­ding can still prompt self-con­scious gig­gles.

“My par­ents ini­tially op­posed the mar­riage, and it was as though I’d won a game when they fi­nally agreed,” she said, laugh­ing.

The na­tive of Weitou vil­lage in Fu­jian prov­ince first met Chen Ying-chao, who hails from Kin­men county in Tai­wan, in 1992. Later that year, they took the plunge and Hong be­came the first woman from her vil­lage to marry a man from Tai­wan.

The prox­im­ity of Weitou and Kin­men, and the shared fish­ing grounds, in­evitably re­sult in friend­ships spring­ing up, and peo­ple from Tai­wan reg­u­larly drop by to visit the main­land vil­lage.

“My hus­band was a reg­u­lar guest of my fa­ther, and that was how we knew each other,” Hong said.

Al­though her fa­ther, Hong Jian­cai, deemed Chen, who sold fish­ery prod­ucts, to be a “good and able lad”, he had grave reser­va­tions about the pro­posed mar­riage.

His con­cerns stemmed from the fact that for many decades, Weitou was re­garded as a fortress against Tai­wan.

One- China pol­icy

In the 1950s, the vil­lage was of im­mense strate­gic im­por­tance to the de­fense of the main­land in the event of an ar­tillery at­tack by the Kuom­intang, which fled to Tai­wan in 1949 in the wake of their de­feat in the Chi­nese civil war (1945-49). In­deed, in 1958 the vil­lage was al­most re­duced to rub­ble by a mas­sive bom­bard­ment.

Hong Jian­cai, a war hero and for­mer mili­tia leader, was wor­ried that cross-Straits re­la­tions would be­come tense and frac­tious and have se­ri­ous ram­i­fi­ca­tions for his fam­ily. “If a war oc­curred some­day, would my role as a for­mer main­land sol­dier jeop­ar­dize my daugh­ter’s sit­u­a­tion in Tai­wan? A con­flict would prob­a­bly mean that I would never see my daugh­ter again,” he re­called.

When the two sides reached a con­sen­sus in 1992, in which both agreed to abide by the one-China pol­icy, Hong Jian­cai be­gan to bank on peace­ful re­la­tions and gave the green light for his daugh­ter to marry Chen.

How­ever, his wife, Jiang Meili, ar­gued that cul­tural dif­fer­ences would make life in Kin­men hard for Hong Shuangfei. She was also con­cerned that she would lose con­tact with her daugh­ter be­cause of the dif­fi­cul­ties ex­pe­ri­enced by main­lan­ders who wanted to travel to Tai­wan.

“I al­lied with my fa­ther to con­vince my mother that things wouldn’t be that bad,” said Hong Shuangfei, adding she promised to visit her mother reg­u­larly, ir­re­spec­tive of the in­con­ve­nience.

“As it turned out, things were re­ally not bad at all,” she said.

The links be­tween Weitou and Kin­men are deep; the fore­fa­thers of many Kin­men res­i­dents hailed from south­ern Fu­jian and so the lan­guage, food and cul­ture are sim­i­lar. “Even our god is the same. We all wor­ship Mazu, the Chi­nese god­dess of the sea,” said Hong Shuangfei. How­ever, she re­mem­bered that one of the few prob­lems she en­coun­tered af­ter re­lo­cat­ing was that some peo­ple in Tai­wan didn’t un­der­stand the main­land very well.

“Many peo­ple came to check on me and were sur­prised that I ac­tu­ally looked nice. They thought peo­ple from the main­land were all hill­bil­lies,” she said, adding that she wanted to take them to the main­land to see the re­al­ity for them­selves, but was dis­cour­aged by the travel dif­fi­cul­ties. wed men from Tai­wan and more than 30 of them have moved to Kin­men. Oth­ers have set­tled in Penghu, Kaoh­si­ung and Taichung.

While Hong Shuangfei has never re­gret­ted her de­ci­sion, not ev­ery main­land bride has en­joyed mar­ried life in Tai­wan.

Most of the first batch of main­land brides mar­ried vet­eran Kuom­intang soldiers. Those men un­able to find spouses in Tai­wan were al­lowed to re­turn to their home­towns af­ter 1987, when the main­land and Tai­wan re­sumed in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tions, to look for brides.

“Most main­land brides mar­ried for­mer soldiers and were much younger than their hus­bands. Many of those women were di­vorcees who wanted to change their lives through mar­riage,” said Lu Yuex­i­ang, chair­per­son of the Chi­nese Pro­duc­tion Party, a po­lit­i­cal party in Tai­wan that fo­cuses on equal­ity and rights for main­land brides and other new ar­rivals.

Lu, 49, from Longyan in Fu­jian, was one of the ear­li­est main­land brides to ar­rive in Tai­wan and al­though she didn’t marry a vet­eran but a busi­ness­man she had met through a match­maker in 1992, she had a hard time fit­ting in dur­ing the early years.

Long-stand­ing cross-Straits con­fronta­tions, al­lied to so­cial and eco­nomic dif­fer­ences, meant main­land brides of­ten faced dis­crim­i­na­tion. Some Tai­wan res­i­dents con­sid­ered the

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Hong Shuangfei, with her son and fa­ther, walks on the beach at her home­town in Weitou, Fu­jian prov­ince. She trav­els from Kin­men reg­u­larly to visit her par­ents.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Some of the 35 women from Chongqing who have mar­ried men from Tai­wan.

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