Dual citizenship is hardly a new topic of discussion. As the Chinese government does not recognize dual citizenship, overseas Chinese lose their Chinese nationality after becoming citizens of their adopted country. For Chinese Canadians, the loss of their Chinese passport is now causing them to face additional barriers of going back to China, as the Chinese consulate has recently imposed stricter requirements on the visa application process.
According to a recent online poll by the Chinese Mandarin Association, 96% of participants believe that Chinese Canadians should be allowed to keep their citizenship after becoming Canadians. For over 50 years, Chinese Canadians have petitioned the Chinese government to change the law or grant them residence status, but to no avail.
Fearing for overseas powers?
Why does the Chinese government not recognize dual citizenship and refuse to respond to the aspirations of 50million strong Chinese Canadians? As various speculations have surfaced in media, including the greed of stakeholders who want to keep collecting $1billion annual visa application fees, dual citizenship has not been supported, rather objected to by Chinese living in South East Asia, including Filipinos, who have faced discrimination and persecution from the local communities for decades.
The Chinese government reportedly believes that recognizing dual citizenship may bring a negative impact on those Chinese in South East Asia, who represent 95% of overseas Chinese.
The Chinese government indicated earlier that North American Chinese and South East Asian Chinese live in completely different environments. While it is understood that North American Chinese want to keep their dual citizenship so that they can frequently visit their families in China, not recognizing dual citizenship is a long-term strategy which is both “reasonable and legal”.
But it may not seem so “reasonable” to Chinese community members. Dan Qing, a political commentator says that depleting the citizenship of Chinese Canadians shows that the Chinese government lacks self-confidence in controlling ‘overseas Chinese powers’.
“It reveals that the Chinese government fears for the attacks by overseas Chinese on its sovereignty, which is manifested in recently imposed new visa requirements,” he said.
But different voices criticized the prevalent self-serving intentions of those who want to tap into the benefits of both countries but are not keen on fulfilling their responsibilities, indicating that the mentality may leave the community being looked down upon by others.
Dual citizenship has been implemented in many Asian countries. In recent years, South Korea has allowed dual citizenship, and after Vietnam offered its overseas citizens the choice of resuming its citizenship, more than 3.5 million Vietnamese have resumed their citizenship.
Becoming citizens of Taiwan?
Despite repeated petitions, including private bill amendments to the current citizenship law of China proposed by Chinese Canadian activists, the Chinese government responded with an indifferent and callous attitude, which has aroused negative sentiments among North American Chinese, who seem desperate for any suggestions to resume their lost citizenship.
In the wake of the article “Taiwan, an alternative of becoming Chinese citizen?” published by Chinese News, which seems to have provided an alternative route of becoming Chinese citizens again for Chinese Canadians, Chinese News readers have answered the paper’s online poll on www.096.ca : Do you want to have your Chinese citizenship resumed by obtaining Taiwan citizenship?
The result of the poll indicates that a majority of voters (94%) agreed with this suggestion, compared with 4% of voters against it.
But “becoming a citizen of the Republic of China” is an idea from La La land. Leaving its political implications aside, it is next to impossible to implement.
Like many countries around the world, Taiwan does not unconditionally offer citizenship to anyone who seeks it. While the Taiwanese government does allow dual citizenship, it can only be granted to “Republic of China (ROC) Canadians” who want to hold two passports, rather than “Mainland Chinese Canadians” or foreigners from any other countries.
According to National Immigration Agency of ROC, any Canadians -- including Chinese Canadians who want to become ROC citizens -- are subject to ROC citizenship requirements that applicant’s parents or spouse must be ROC citizens, and that above all, the applicant must give up his/her Canadian passport before applying!
Although it sounds silly, the idea promoter hopes it may force the Chinese government to respond. Political commentator Dan Qing says that if the government really cares about the wishes of Chinese Canadians, they could easily come up with several solutions.
“For example, they can offer choices to those in South East Asia of giving up Chinese citizenship, while allowing North American Chinese to keep it. They can also issue a long-term visa for those who go back home frequently.”
编注：本文曾在2012年5月《大中报》上发表。Note: The story was published in Chinese News in May, 2012.
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