Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

One of the most significant issues that has been raised and discussed in this thread is whether or not Taiwan should change its law requiring renunciation of original citizenship for naturalizing foreigners. Some have expressed the view that it should, while others (particularly those who have already gained ROC nationality) have argued that there is no good reason for it to do so. I belong to the former camp.

A couple of years ago, as some may recall, I formally submitted a proposal for the law to be changed. This proposal was adopted by the CEPD’s regulatory reform committee, which pressed the case for it at a meeting with the MOI.

The CEPD represents the progressive mindset in the government, intent on opening Taiwan to the world and bringing it into line with international norms. The MOI represents conservative thinking in the government, intent on keeping things as much as possible as they are. The former has the backing of President Ma, but cannot always prevail, especially in matters such as this that aren’t being called for by powerful external voices (such as foreign chambers of commerce or governments) or by any significant constituency in Taiwan. My proposal lacked any such backing, hence the MOI felt able to reject it even though it could not come up with any but the most risible grounds for its opposition.

Here, for those who haven’t seen it before, is the English version of my proposal (which was presented to the MOI, with suitable adjustment, in Chinese):

Here are the MOI’s grounds for rejecting the change - their Chinese with my summarized English version and comments:

[quote] Those in charge at the MOI evidently don’t want bignoses becoming ROC citizens and assimilating into their society, and they know that this requirement will deter all but a tiny minority of us from applying for naturalization, so they want to keep it in place. As far as they’re concerned, it’s enough that they let us obtain the very minimal and shaky rights of so-called “permanent residency,” and there’s no compelling reason to offer anything more.

Here is their official response, which they say is consistent with the position they took on this issue when it was raised during interpellation in the Legislative Yuan:

有關 貴會函送「工商團體及各部會所提財經法規鬆綁議題」中與本司有關議題為:建議以下列兩種方式修正國籍法第9條:
(一)刪除申請歸化應提出喪失原有國籍證明。
(二)增列申請人原屬國允許我國國民不須放棄國籍即可歸化,其申請歸化亦不須提出喪失原有國籍證明之互惠規定。
本司回應意見如下:
(一)目前採行歸化者須喪失原有國籍,即採行原則上單一國籍立法例之國家有日本、韓國、菲律賓、印尼、馬來西亞、泰國、中國大陸、比利時、瑞典、沙烏地阿拉伯、新加坡、德國、奧地利、義大利等,實非少數。故各個國家之國籍政策均有考量該國國情、歷史背景及社會資源等因素,並據以研訂符合國家利益及當前實際需要之國籍法規。
(二)再者,各國國籍法歸化條件採行之標準不一,有些國家採行多項條件兼容並濟,且各國國籍法亦常有修正之情形,倘一味追求平等互惠原則,除造成查證困難,其歸化條件須隨各國之國籍政策改變而變更,更易形成因原有國家國籍法規定不同,而生差別待遇之不公平現象,實非妥適。
(三)此外,89年2月9日修正公布之國籍法第9條,增列但書規定「但能提出因非可歸責當事人事由,致無法取得該證明並經外交機關查證屬實者,不在此限」。已可解決部分國家國籍法規定不得喪失其原有國籍及因相關政策不允許其國民喪失其國籍,而無法歸化之困難。
(四)另依入國出國及移民法第25條等相關規定,針對有長期居住我國之需求而不願放棄其原有國籍者,尚有申請永久居留證之制度。
(五)基於國家忠誠、減少雙重國籍者之考量,且慮及我國地區人口密度高,為提升國民生活品質,杜防大量外移人口,實有維持原歸化條件之必要。
綜上,修正國籍法第9條涉及我國人口、移民及國籍政策,宜審慎考量,爰建議無庸再行放寬現行規定。

As you can see, their arguments against the change include:

(1) Saudi Arabia requires naturalizing foreigners to renounce their original citizenship.

(2) Our national circumstances, historical backgound, and social resources make it inappropriate for us to give foreigners the same rights and benefits that we Taiwanese enjoy in their countries.

(3) Those other countries all have different laws on this, so how can we implement reciprocity? Yes, sure, we already do it for driving licences, real estate ownership, etc., etc., but it’s bloody mafan, would require a bit of Googling, and could possibly impinge on our tea drinking and other far more important activities, so we’re bloody well not going to saddle ourselves with any such burden unless we’re absolutely forced to.

(4) We already changed the law once, a mere ten years ago, to make an exception for people who cannot renounce their original citizenship. Fer Christ’s sake, isn’t that enough?

(5) We’re already being more than generous in offering permanent residency, and those bloody foreigners don’t even have to give up their foreign passports when we grant them this oh-so-fortunate status.

(6) Our country’s too densely populated already. If we allow bignoses who have already settled in our country to obtain local citizenship, we’ll be overrun by them and it’ll cause the country to collapse.

(7) How can we raise the quality of our citizens’ lives if we allow bignoses to naturalize without giving up their original citizenship?

Pretty compelling set of arguments, eh?
[/quote]

[url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/rumoured-changes-to-naturalization-legislation/57339/1 the thread in which we discussed this in 2010.[/url]

The new minister of the CEPD, Yiin Chii-ming, has said he believes Taiwan has fallen a long way behind its main economic rivals – South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong – in internationalization, deregulation and opening to the world. He believes that the government needs to place very high emphasis on rectifying this situation during Ma’s second term as president, and this will be one of his main goals as head of national development planning. He appears to have strong backing from Ma to achieve this, but many commentators still expect him to face great difficulty in obtaining the requisite cooperation from other Cabinet agencies. It will be vital for Taiwan’s competitiveness and future prospects that he makes good headway on this front. If he does seem to be getting good results, I may resurrect my proposal and try to win some support for it from other influential quarters, perhaps even having a tilt at gaining a sympathetic ear at the very top.

2 Likes

Omni, thanks for the info above and your work on this issue, which is of great interest to many of us.

Mods, could Omni’s post here be moved somewhere permanent so that we can refer to it in the future?

Good work Omni I think it’s worth it to try again and again with these things.

Yes, bravo. Even if nothing comes of this I enjoyed reading your proposal again. :slight_smile:

I was approved for ROC naturalization candidacy last year and already gave up my original nationality, I am currently waiting for the UK to send some documents confirming my renunciation.

I believe quite strongly that anyone applying for citizenship of another country should be required to give up their original citizenship. Naturalization should be seen as something very serious and more than just a way to live more conveniently in a foreign country. I do not agree that you should be able to collect passports like visa stamps - if you still have a strong connection remaining with your birth country then why is permanent residency not sufficient?

What is unfair is that some countries (like the UK) allow resumption of citizenship while others (like the US) don’t, but that’s not really Taiwan’s problem. For what it’s worth I have no intention to re-apply for British citzenship because it would offer me no benefit.

Apart from the renunciation debate Taiwan is quite lenient and efficient when it comes to naturalization. The process was easier than my initial visa applications 10 years ago and at all stages I was treated with respect and professionalism. More white foreigners than ever are becoming ROC citizens and the days of getting strange looks or raised eyebrows are long gone.

I don’t think anything needs changing.

There are plenty of people in the world with allegiances and connections to more than one place, and there are also very good economic and practical reasons for many people to hold onto their original passports.

Besides having a passport is no guarantee of patriotism or anything really, it’s just a legal document. Why put a needless roadblock for pettiness sake?

Yeah, Taiwan has fallen behind these countries, but the official in the letter above mentions that South Korea and Singapore too (as well as China, the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Sweden, Germany, Austria, and Italy) don’t allow people to obtain citizenships without abandoning their native citizenships. And as much as I would love snagging a Taiwanese passport without having to give up my native one, I imagine there are about 19 other more important factors preventing skilled Western white-collar workers from coming here as opposed to just about anywhere else in Asia than “Gee whiz, maybe five or ten years down the road I can get Taiwanese citizenship.”

If you live permanently in Taiwan and have no plans to go back to your birth country for any length of time then why does it matter to give up your original citizenship? If you do have plans to go back in future then why do you need Taiwan citizenship? It’s pretty easy to get resident visas or permanent residency in Taiwan compared to many other countries.

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Obviously native born Taiwanese can hold two passports why can’t immigrants? It’s an old argument but very obvious. Anyway there is no coherent argument against regular people holding two passports.

Well, for me, and I suspect a lot of others, it’s because I have family in Canada and especially aging parents. At some point in the next ten years I may need to move back for an extended period of time. Possibly a few years. If I do that, I could lose my permanent residency here, and if I get a Taiwanese passport, I would not be able to easily return for so long.

The simple fact is, for most of us, we do have substantial ties in both places. It would be absurd, as Omni wrote, for my wife, and possibly future kids, to have no problem moving back to Canada to help take care of my parents, when I’d be stuck doing visa runs.

If you live permanently in Taiwan and have no plans to go back to your birth country for any length of time then why does it matter to give up your original citizenship? If you do have plans to go back in future then why do you need Taiwan citizenship? It’s pretty easy to get resident visas or permanent residency in Taiwan compared to many other countries.[/quote]

And why should I not be entitled to get one and be limited to permanent residency? Holding a passport gives you more rights in Taiwan and also helps in family situations. As I explained already getting a passport just because you are born somewhere does not mean a whole lot if you think about it. Now living in a place, contributing to it’s cultural and economic activity, having kids locally, yes I think that there should be a route to get a local passport without needless petty rules being enforced.

Just to give a simplistic example of a roadblock, recently I was posting in the “can a foreigner get a credit card” thread.

It seems that the banks don’t want to give a foreigner credit, so if you want to buy a house, you will need someone to get the credit in their own name essentially stopping me from setting up my own history. I do want to buy a condo in Kaohsiung, but the banks won’t loan me the money, even with 75% down. So when I want to buy, I will need to borrow the money from a Canadian bank to do so.

If I am no longer a citizen if I renounce the Canadian one, the bank here will shut down all my accounts this preventing me from getting funds to buy that condo. And whether I am a citizen or not of Taiwan, I still don’t have a history here, so I will always be on the fact of begging friends to set me up with things I need to survive, whereas since I am still a Canadian citizen, I have the ability to borrow from there which makes my life easier.

And unless you are absolutely sure you will be a Taiwan lifer, with a secure job, I certainly wouldn’t want to throw away my Canadian passport as it could be a lifeline if there were no jobs available in Taiwan.

This also applies to Taiwanese who also don’t give up their Taiwan citizenship. A lot of times, they live in Canada, US, Australia, etc, but then when they get older, the homing signal brings them back to Taiwan to retire, with all the money they made overseas. Why are they any different?

Thanks OMNI for your hard work in making this an issue.

I know quite a few dual nationals that do business between their two nations, and quite a few happen to be from Taiwan and another country, makes things a lot easier because you have a lot less difficulty setting up base on each side, and you have more personal freedom of movement. I am sure that they would be less interested in doing so if there were more obstacles. Personally, I hope more areas like the EU pop up in the future (in terms of freedom of movement).

I got credit cards, mortgages, overdraft, checking accounts etc. in my own name with no guarantor and while I was still single. You need good documentation (like proof of a fixed income going into your TW account every month at the same date for the past x months and/or tax statements) and willingness to put up deposit for a secured credit card (e.g. put up $50k on deposit for 1-2 years and get $50-100k credit card limit). Don’t expect a mortgage if you don’t have a credit history.

The bank in Taiwan or Canada? Cause I already renounced my UK citizenship and neither my UK nor Taiwan banks have shut down my accounts.

That’s fine. And if you are not willing to commit 100% then why should you get the extra perks like those of us who are.

[quote=“dan2006”]

It seems that the banks don’t want to give a foreigner credit, so if you want to buy a house, you will need someone to get the credit in their own name essentially stopping me from setting up my own history. .[/quote]

It’s not that banks “dont want to give expats a credit card,” it’s that expats don’t have a line of credit in Taiwan (as line of credit is due to location). Renouncing your citizenship will not affect your banking in anyway whatsoever, Sat TV renounced his Aussie citizenship and still had his Aussie bank account and line of credit.

Because those countries don’t require them to renounce. I’m pretty sure most Taiwanese wouldn’t care much if they had to renounce, there are cases of Taiwanese becoming Singaporeans, Japanese, Germans etc and gave up Taiwanese citizenship. P.S, if a male has not completed his military service obligation and attempts to renounced, he can be charged with treason.

If you want the “rights” of Taiwanese citizens to gain dual nationality, become one first and work your ass off to get other citizenship like everybody else. Petition your own governments to allow resumption of citizenship.

Mucha: becoming Taiwanese does not prevent you from migrating to Canada, there are ex-citizen return residency visa’s as well which you could easily obtain and resume Canadian citizenship if you move back there for a few years.

I think most countries should follow Taiwan’s lead and force renunciation of citizenship(s) to see if people truly want to become a citizen of a country. Weeds out all of those who want to attain citizenship for benefits.

[quote=“cyborg_ninja”]
I think most countries should follow Taiwan’s lead and force renunciation of citizenship(s) to see if people truly want to become a citizen of a country. Weeds out all of those who want to attain citizenship for benefits.[/quote]

Then it would weed out EVERYONE since everyone is doing it for benefits. You don’t do something like that if its not going to benefit you (unless you have low self esteem and just want to do stuff to yourself that is UNbeneficial).

[quote=“Confuzius”][quote=“cyborg_ninja”]
I think most countries should follow Taiwan’s lead and force renunciation of citizenship(s) to see if people truly want to become a citizen of a country. Weeds out all of those who want to attain citizenship for benefits.[/quote]

Then it would weed out EVERYONE since everyone is doing it for benefits. You don’t do something like that if its not going to benefit you (unless you have low self esteem and just want to do stuff to yourself that is UNbeneficial).[/quote]

I was more thinking of NHI and Welfare.

[quote=“cyborg_ninja”][quote=“Confuzius”][quote=“cyborg_ninja”]
I think most countries should follow Taiwan’s lead and force renunciation of citizenship(s) to see if people truly want to become a citizen of a country. Weeds out all of those who want to attain citizenship for benefits.[/quote]

Then it would weed out EVERYONE since everyone is doing it for benefits. You don’t do something like that if its not going to benefit you (unless you have low self esteem and just want to do stuff to yourself that is UNbeneficial).[/quote]

I was more thinking of NHI and Welfare.[/quote]

Ah.

Butya can get NHI without it. Welfare is another thing (one that I got no clue about).

I reckon a good portion of the citizens of the world are lazy asses that didn’t have to work to get their citizenship, they’re just enjoying the fruits of their parents’ bedroom labor. It’s not like the good old days where even locals had to earn citizenship.

[quote=“cyborg_ninja”][quote=“Confuzius”][quote=“cyborg_ninja”]
I think most countries should follow Taiwan’s lead and force renunciation of citizenship(s) to see if people truly want to become a citizen of a country. Weeds out all of those who want to attain citizenship for benefits.[/quote]

Then it would weed out EVERYONE since everyone is doing it for benefits. You don’t do something like that if its not going to benefit you (unless you have low self esteem and just want to do stuff to yourself that is UNbeneficial).[/quote]

I was more thinking of NHI and Welfare.[/quote]

Yes, the Canadians, Australian, Norwegians, Swedes, etc etc are highly motivated by the generous social benefits available in Taiwan compared to their homeland. :unamused: