China / Society

Lawmakers call for dual nationality check

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily) Updated: 2012-04-28 02:50

Lawmakers have urged the government to address the trend of holding dual nationality, which is illegal in China.

Jin Shuoren, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said on Thursday that although being a citizen of two or even more countries at the same time is not allowed in China, it has become an increasingly popular practice and the government needs to take more action to deal with it.

"The government should set up a system holding nationality information by compiling data from different agencies to compare and find out about holders of dual nationality," he said.

The lawmaker said many reasons have contributed to the growing number of people with dual nationality.

"Some citizens applied to renounce their nationality after moving to another country, but their information is not shared in a timely manner between foreign affairs offices and public security officials, and that has given rise to the trend." Apart from different information systems, Chen Yiyu, a member of the NPC Standing Committee argued some Chinese, after migrating overseas, do not tell public security officials they have changed their nationality, and continue to keep their hukou and identity cards for their convenience.

Hukou, a household registration system, as well as one's identity card, is widely required in daily life in China, and is needed to open a bank account or buy a car.

In practice, many people who have obtained foreign citizenship have managed to keep their hukou in China, Jin said.

China's Nationality Law, which came into effect in 1980, said China does not recognize dual nationality. When Chinese citizens take the nationality of another country, they must renounce their Chinese citizenship — and vice versa — but the stipulation has been criticized as being too harsh and may drive away overseas talents.

A report issued in 2011 by Huaqiao University, a subordinate college of the State Council's Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, said the number of overseas Chinese has topped 45 million.

Gao Siren, director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, said overseas Chinese have long called on the government to streamline the paperwork for them to return to China by issuing more "green cards" or lifting the ban on dual nationality.

Liu Guofu, a law professor with Beijing Institute of Technology, said the Immigration Law should be designed to improve the competitiveness of a country, and its limits on population mobility, especially on top-notch experts and overseas Chinese, may diminish China's attractiveness.

South Korea last year amended its law to allow overseas South Koreans, immigrants married to South Koreans and international talents to hold dual citizenship, after Vietnam made similar changes in 2009.

Liu said more than 90 countries and regions currently recognize dual nationality.

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