Concerns about immigration remain a focal point in both American and European politics. The competing demands in Taiwan are familiar to those watching immigration debates elsewhere: the need for workers, especially unskilled workers, for jobs locals cannot or are unwilling to fill versus concerns about the political and social costs of migration. Meanwhile, immigrant workers in Taiwan frequently protest labor conditions.
According to the Ministry of the Interior’s National Immigration Agency, of the over 770,000 foreign residents in Taiwan, more than 90 percent are from Southeast Asia, and predominantly from Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In 2017, Taiwanese married more Southeast Asian partners than partners from China. Despite government policies over time to increase ties with Southeast Asian countries as a means to be less economically ties to China, and discussion on immigration policy to encourage Southeast Asian skilled labor immigration to counter Taiwan’s brain-drain, such efforts have not been without controversy.