I assume that what you are speaking of is international reciprocity.
It is a fact that most countries in North America, Central America, Europe, etc. allow Taiwanese citizens to obtain local citizenship without the requirement of renunciation of original citizenship. Hence, for starters, the foreigners in Taiwan would like similar rights … as you say, based on equalism. If the foreigner’s home country allows Taiwan citizens the right to obtain their nationality without renunciation of original citizenship, then the foreigners living in Taiwan, after meeting all relevant, residency, financial, good behavior, etc. requirements, should be accorded the same treatment. (This would involve a revision of Article 9 of Taiwan’s Nationality Law, and some accompanying changes to Taiwan’s Immigration Law would also be appropriate.)
I realize that many Taiwanese persons will say that Taiwan is a small and crowded island. However, the foreigners who are applying for nationality rights in Taiwan are already living and working here. They are contributing, and they are paying taxes. In many cases these foreigners are fluent in Chinese, have an in-depth understanding of local political issues, and also have a well-thought out “international viewpoint.” The benefits to Taiwan for allowing these persons to gain local nationality would be significant.
In terms of “loyalty” issues, I have never heard any Taiwanese official thoroughly explain the reasoning behind the Ministry of the Interior’s claim that — a Taiwanese person who gains a foreign nationality, thus becoming a “dual national” will of course be loyal to Taiwan … but for a foreigner who obtains Taiwan nationality, if allowed to be a dual national, will immediately be faced with “conflicting national loyalties” … hence it is necessary that the foreigner renounce his/her original nationality before becoming a Taiwan citizen.
This line of legal reasoning is illogical. A “dual national” is a dual national. Upon obtaining the status of dual national, it doesn’t really matter which nationality was obtained first.
Another important consideration is that if a foreigner obtains Taiwan nationality, this new status is only really relevant in Taiwan. The fact that the foreigner retains his original nationality has no bearing on his/her rights and obligations under Taiwan law. In other words, the foreigner cannot claim any special privileges just because he/she now has obtained local Taiwan nationality and still retains his/her original foreign nationality. And in fact, a “dual national” foreigner would pay the same income taxes in Taiwan as a “single national” foreigner. As stated above, the foreigners who are applying for nationality rights in Taiwan are already living and working here. They are paying taxes. Even in the countries with the most severely restrictive immigration policies, a foreigner who has legally lived and worked there for seven or eight years is eligible for local nationality, but in Taiwan you have foreigners who have been here for over twenty years and still have to renew their visas every year. If they forget and overstay a few days, they have to pay a fine. If they overstay twice they are blacklisted, or refused a visa to come back to Taiwan. In other countries, these people would already be local citizens with full voting, residency, and work rights.
Continuing on with the point of view that “if a foreigner obtains local Taiwan nationality, this is really only relevant in Taiwan” … Notably, however, the retention of the original foreign nationality is very important in dealing with a large range of legal issues in the foreigner’s home country. These include: inheritance rights, insurance rights, residency rights, visitation rights, retirement funds rights, bank accounts rights, land ownership rights, business ownership rights, etc.
Hence, when overviewed with the above analysis in mind, it is really not hard to see that whether the foreigner retains his/her original nationality when obtaining Taiwan nationality is really none of the Taiwan government’s business. Moreover, how practical is it for a black or white “foreigner” to travel around the world on a “Republic of China” passport? What if some countries’ immigration officials simply laugh, and then make the common sense statement that: “You are obviously not Chinese, so this passporty must be a counterfeit.” What happens then?
I am a Caucasian male. When I go to the local banks here in Taiwan to deal with various tax matters, or overseas remittance of funds, the bank officials always ask me: “Can I see your Taiwan ID please?” When I explain that I have lived here thirty years but still don’t have a Taiwan ID, they are always very surprised. When I further explain that in order to get a Taiwan ID I would have to renounce my original USA citizenship, they always shake their head in disbelief, stating: “You are surely mistaken, Taiwan allows dual nationality!!”
The final point I want to make here, as illustrated by the above story about my visits to the local Taiwan banks, is that the local populace in Taiwan has no problems accepting the fact that a non-Chinese looking person would have a local Taiwan ID, because they assume that if he/she has been working and living here legally for a number of years then of course he/she would have obtained one.
Didn’t Confucius also basically talk about the concept of “global village”? Then why are “foreigners” being excluded from full participation in Taiwan society???