Getting a Chinese Citizenship
June 19, 2006 1:32 PM   Subscribe

How do I become a Chinese citizen again?

I was born in china in the 80s, both parents are chinese, immigrated to canada when I was 2, and have gotten canadian and american citizenships since then. From what I read online, you lose your chinese citizenship when you get another citizenship, so apparently I don't have one anymore. But how do they know if you've gotten another citizenship? Is there a way to get it back somehow, in the future or anything? I talked to some people who said china doesn't have a citizenship card, and barely anyone has a passport, so how do you tell if someone is actually chinese?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (7 answers total)
According to this

Foreign ethnics or stateless persons who are willing to abide by China's Constitution and laws and who meet one of the following conditions may be naturalized upon approval of their applications

* they are near relatives of Chinese nationals (ethnic Chinese)
* they have settled in China
* they have other legitimate reasons

So if you have any relatives still living in china, or if you move to china and stay there for a while or have some other "legitimate reason" you shouldn't have a problem. It really doesn't seem that difficult. There's no quotas or bullshit like in the US or other countries.

I don't think it would be difficult for you, but you would have to renounce your citizenship to do it.
posted by delmoi at 1:56 PM on June 19, 2006

Well they should (I mean should, there is no garauntee)have a record of your birth, or if you still have your birth certificate that would certainly help a lot, be able to verify that you are in fact Chinese. My experiance living and working over there as a non Asian American, who has had to deal rather extensively with their visa requirements is that they are actually pretty lenient in welcoming the "overseas Chinese" back into the fold, so to speak. That being said they do not look to kindly upon dual citizenship, but then again neither does the United States but plently of people have it anyways. I would contact the nearest Chinese consulate and ask them, what their official position is about it though.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:01 PM on June 19, 2006

We're all assuming that anonymous is from the PRC and not the ROC. Can anonymous confirm that (s)he means the PRC and not Taiwan?

In the same thing you note, delmoi:

Article 13 Foreign nationals who once held Chinese nationality may apply for restoration of Chinese nationality if they have legitimate reasons; those whose applications for restoration of Chinese nationality have been approved shall not retain foreign nationality

Renouncing US or Canadian citizenship can be funny. If all China wants is for you to renounce your US/CA citizenship to Chinese officials, then you'll continue to be a US and Canadian citizen. This might cause problems for your Chinese citizenship if they catch you with US/CA passports, but you'll also be able to enter the US and Canada at will (assuming the PRC lets you out).

If they want you to actually formally renounce your citizenships to US and Canadian officials and obtain official documentation that you are not a citizen of the US and Canada, that's a whole different story.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:01 PM on June 19, 2006

Please keep in mind that the US is rather unforgiving (or so rumor goes) to those who renounce US citizenship. Also once renounced I don't think you can get it back (I speak as a fellow dual national who is very careful not indirectly renounce US citizenship).
posted by zia at 3:29 PM on June 19, 2006

It depends on who you renounce it to.

The US does not (currently) care if you renounce US citizenship to officials of a foreign government. You can swear up and down to the officials of ForeignLand that you completely, utterly, absolutely, totally renounce every last shred of allegiance and attachment to the US, and that you think the US is nothing but a wretched hive of scum and villainy full of the worst sort of doody-butts, etc etc, and it won't have the slightest effect on your US citizenship.

You can only effectively renounce US citizenship, so that the US no longer considers you a citizen, by formally renouncing your citizenship to US officials.* This isn't necessarily an easy thing to do, as I understand it. There are obstacles to get in the way of people trying to renounce US citizenship as a tax dodge, and they apparently want solid evidence that you don't plan to set foot on US soil again, ever (because it would be easy for you to then set about reacquiring US citizenship with your birth certificate).

*Or by doing "certain expatriating actions," like taking high elective office in ForeignLand or serving in ForeignLand's military against the US. These don't apply to normal people.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:43 PM on June 19, 2006

I don't think it's quite the same thing as citizenship, but there's this document called a "wooy heung jing", which translates roughly as "return to homeland" card. It basically IDs you as a Chinese national. My vague understanding is that you can obtain one if you can prove at some point you qualified for Chinese nationality. I think it was enough that both my parents were born in HK/China, but I also have an HK ID card (I'm Canadian). I think it's a little like how Israel gives citizenship to all the Jews that repatriate.

I didn't actually end up getting a China card, but I know they issued them in HK, in one of offices at the China Immigration building in Central. Not sure about getting it from somewhere else.

My understanding of the renoucing citizenship is, it's not that they actually require you to not have any other citizenship, it's just that they won't recognize it. So if you are entering China as a Chinese national, you renounce any claim as a Canadian/American while you are there. So if you were to get into trouble say, they would treat you as a national and you wouldn't be able to appeal to the US/Canadian consulate for help. That's actually the reason we didn't end up getting them.

Anyway, I know it's all sort of vague, so I would look up this return to homeland thing, and get more info about that because I think you would qualify under that program. Hope it helps!
posted by orangskye at 8:41 PM on June 19, 2006

You can hold both Chinese and Canadian citizenship, at least. I know this because there was a Canadian citizen in the news who was/still is? being held in a jail in China for being a member of Falun Gong, but the Canadian Embassy could do nothing about it because the Chinese government considered him to be a Chinese citizen as well. He had emmigrated to Canada, and had taken up Canadian citizenship, but apparently that did not affect his citizenship as far as the Chinese government was concerned (and for the purposes of locking him up).
posted by jb at 1:19 AM on June 20, 2006

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