Mainland brides in Taiwan have never had a good deal. They are looked down upon by a society that treats them with suspicion at best, scorn and outright discrimination at worst. But it does not seem to have stopped them arriving on these shores, taking a brave step towards a new life with a husband who may or may not prove to be their Mr Right. Statistically, foreign spouses accounted for about a quarter of marriages in Taiwan last year. Around 60 per cent of them were from mainland China. It is feared to be a growing trend in Taiwan for men to look elsewhere for their life partner, having come up empty-handed at home. Young Taiwanese women are too much of a handful these days, one theory goes: they are more independent and want more equality. Shy, traditionally minded men must look elsewhere to find less temperamental women. The other side of the theory is that Taiwanese men are not up to par. Take your pick. Either way, the mainland bride is not exactly welcome in Taiwan. They were made even less welcome last week, when plans were announced to extend from eight to 11 years the length of a marriage before a mainland spouse can obtain a Taiwanese identity certificate. Mainland marriage and residency issues are governed by a law different from the one that governs non-Chinese foreign marriages, and are administered by the Mainland Affairs Council. The council appears to think the extension of the timeline by three years will decrease the number of mainland brides who qualify for a Taiwan identity. A high proportion of marriages fail between the eight and 11-year marks, so increasing the waiting time will disqualify those divorcees. The subtext is that the Taiwan government wants to limit the amount it spends on mainland families that are brought over, and that it simply does not trust the genuineness of cross-strait marriages. But this appears flawed on two levels. First, Taiwan is not exactly a welfare state. Any family brought over from the mainland - mostly elderly parents - have to be provided for by the family and not the Taiwanese taxpayer. The National Health Insurance system is currently being overhauled to ensure it does not run at a deficit, and users pay close to real costs. The second concern, that mainland brides are intent on defrauding the Taiwanese husband and using him to get a 'green card', appears even more paternalistic. Tabloid stories about mainland women taking off with the Taiwanese husband's family fortune make for great reading, but they are few and far between. If that is its concern, the government might just as well organise a buyer-beware campaign. The new rules will do little to help Taiwan, but will add official weight to the discrimination against mainland spouses.