XIAMEN, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Dressed in red costumes, 50 cross-Strait couples shared a traditional wedding ceremony over the weekend in east China's Fujian Province.
Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, extended his blessings to the newlyweds and acknowledged cross-Strait families' unique contributions in promoting exchanges, integration and peaceful development.
However, these marriages would not have been possible 30 years ago.
After the civil war in 1940s, people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait considered one another "the enemy" during the long estrangement between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.
This lasted until 1987 when the two sides resumed people-to-people communication across the Strait.
Currently, there are 378,000 cross-Strait marriages, Huang Shuxian, minister of civil affairs, said at a sub-forum on cross-Strait marriage Sunday.
The group wedding and the sub-forum were both part of the week-long Ninth Straits Forum, which focuses on grassroots exchanges and cross-Strait integration.
The overall image of cross-Strait marriages has changed a lot, according to Zhan Xiuying, head of a Taiwan-based social organization promoting cross-Strait exchanges.
In the past the spouses from the Chinese mainland were often seen as the inferior side of the partnerships, due to the high instance of mainland women from poor families marrying older more wealthy husbands from Taiwan. But currently, more and more cross-Strait couples meet partners of similar age, education or work level, through their studies, jobs or via the Internet.
Chang Cheng-chung, chairman of the Taiwan-based Chinese Association for Relief and Ensuing Services, also noted the increase in "high quality" of stable and secure cross-Strait marriages despite the island's existing restrictions on mainland spouses in various areas, such as recognition of higher education and access to job applications.
Over 50,000 Taiwanese students have come to study in the mainland, many of whom have chosen to work and settle down there to start a family.
Several couples shared their love stories at the forum, especially how they first met.
The Strait is not a barrier between youth, but is driving our curiosity to learn more about each other, said Qiu Shijie from Taiwan, whose wife comes from Fujian.