"Who is Chinese?" question revisited

Earlier I posted a question about this, in an attempt to help a friend in the United States who has contemplated returning to Taiwan. (Those of you who think me a Nazi may note that Daud is a Moslem Uighur, which is a kind of Turk.)

Thanks to Richard Hartzell’s new website I have now found the relevant legal wording:

“Anyone not living in Taiwan, and whose parents have no record of household registration in the Taiwan area, but who is of DOCUMENTABLE CHINESE ANCESTRY…”

…may receive what Richard calls “Type II citizenship” (an “overseas Chinese passport” but no Taiwan ID card).

My question is, what counts as “documentable Chinese ancestry”? (The “…and what do they get for it?” half is now answered on that site.)

This issue naturally breaks down into three subsidiary issues:

(a) What documents are acceptable? (self-explanatory)

(b) What is “Chinese”?

Again, does “Chinese” = “Han”? Daud made enquiries and learned that according to the “Three Principles of the People” Han, Tibetans, and “Hui” are all considered “Chung Guo Ren” (“Chinese”).

[Richard, if you read this, could you confirm which term for “Chinese” is used in the original Chinese version of the law?]

Now “Hui” in mainland China refers to one particular Moslem group, which is different from Uighur. But according to Taiwan usage “Hui” includes Moslems in general. Since obviously not every Moslem in the world can be considered Chinese, I speculate that it might mean “ethnic Moslem denizens of Chinese territory” which includes Xinjiang (which is the region where Uighurs come from).

If territory is a criterion, then this leads to the question of, according to which boundaries? The big maps they put up in schools here, showing Mongolia as a part of China? (I can’t follow how this affects Daud, but apparently the border with Russia has changed.)

Again, note that the movement of overseas “Chinese” from south China to southeast Asia, exactly parallels Daud’s family’s flight from Chinese to Russian territory.

© What is “ancestry”? For example, if some of one’s ancestors are “Chinese” (however defined) and some are not, how would the applicant’s status be determined? The “one drop” rule?

Daud got the runaround from various government agencies, probably because they couldn’t understand any of this. (I confess that I barely can.) So it’s understandable if the questions haven’t come up, and there’s no official policy on this. But who knows? Any other Chinese subject peoples out there posting?


Great breakdown of the issues. I can’t respond to your points because I really don’t know anything about it, but I enjoyed your analysis. Your breakdown of the issue into the 3 subparts – documents, Chinese, and ancestry – is dead on. You probably should’ve gone to law school instead of medical school – seriously. It seems that might’ve been a good career for you. But with the student loans, I guess that’s probably not realistic now. Oh well, good luck.

As to what is documentable Chinese ancestry, you can get a pretty good listing by referring to (Chinese Version) of the Implementing Regulations for the ROC Passport Law
law.moj.gov.tw/Scripts/Query4A.a … e=E0030051
In particular, look at Article 13.
I don’t have an English language version handy.

As to compiling a summarization of the wording used for “Chinese” in these statutes, that is a question for legal research. I suggest that you get a Chinese friend to look through the ROC Passport Law, its Implementing Regulations, and other related statutes, and compile a listing. It seems that most of the time the appellation “my country’s nationality” is used.

According to this site, “Chinese” ancestry actually means “Republic of China” ancestry. This means that the people we would normally call “overseas Chinese,” really aren’t–in the government’s usage–and so get no special privileges. So it’s the English translation that’s misleading.

The only way I can think of for Daud to possibly finesse this would be to produce some “Republic of China” documents for his parents from during the Republican period.

“Republic of China” is not defined anywhere. The Constitution says anyone having Chinese nationality (huji) is a Chinese citizen (guomin). But then the Immigration Laws and Nationality Laws erode that by providing umpteem classes of citizen.

Maybe a Hui is a qualified Turk and should be really looking for Turkish citizenship. There are Chinese Muslim minorities in Turkey. It is possibly far more respectable than being a stateless Overseas Chinese Passportholder. These don’t even have any automatic right of abode in Taiwan. That is refugee conditions of being stateless and homeless which is like an insult to injury. Don’t forget that Tibetans are not very warmly welcomed in Taiwan as “Overseas Chinese” and refugee laws in Taiwan are weak.

Hexuan, is there any indication as to what the ROC Constitution means by “Chinese nationality”? What word was used for “Chinese”?

I note that the requirement of having a household registration (huji) would be difficult for China’s nomadic subjects to satisfy even during peacetime, let alone during a period in which it was by no means clear who the government was.

I shall pass on JGeer’s suggestion viz. Turkey.

Who is Chinese? A-bian is not even sure about himself. I’d be suspicious about Overseas Nationality being a suttle tool of ROC foreign policy clout. Sun Yat-sen relied very heavily upon overseas funding of Chinese communities and this is a reason for its existance today. Guanxi is more of an issue than ethnicity in my opinion of this status. First, one should inquire about getting an “Overseas Chinese” sponsor for gaining a membership in a (Triad-linked) secret society also called an Overseas Chinese mutual aid socieity. Still interested? :shock: Guanxi will make the bureaucracy churn out the paper. :unamused:

[quote=“Vincent”]Hexuan, is there any indication as to what the ROC Constitution means by “Chinese nationality”? What word was used for “Chinese”?


Xian Fa (Constitution), Article 3:

ROC Constitution Art. 3 is not necessarily meaningless, it is ambigious with the clear intent for the subsequent authority and legislation of ROC Nationality Laws and Immigration Law.
Nationality Law is actually separated from Immigration Law, but these are intertwined.

The US Constitution is more clear that the Congress shall legislate for the naturalization laws. And then the 14th Amendment adds some equal protections for naturalization and natural-born citizens. But inequality and discrepancies similiar to what you’ve noted are not uncommon. No newly naturalized US citizen may join the communist party for 10 years. And there are other restrictions and inequalities, too.
Racial issues are no longer an issue as a Chinese Exclusion Act was rescinded in 1943. We did not get the blacks their voting rights in some southern state until the 1960’s.

Now I’m confused. Let’s coin some new terms:

OC-1 “overseas Chinese” in the way most people use the term, i.e. the members of various ethnic (almost entirely Han, with some multiracials) “Chinese” communities around the world, regardless of politics or precise lineage.

OC-2 “overseas Chinese” in the apparently narrower meaning of Article 13 above, which is limited to certain classes of people descended from “Republic of China” persons (whoever those might be).

JGeer, by your reference to joining (triad-linked?) “overseas Chinese associations,” do you mean that letters of reference or something would help establish OC-1 status? (Which seems to be beside the point, according to the law.) Or would it somehow help bypass the restrictions on OC-2, allowing OC-1 persons to sometimes receive privileges due OC-2 persons thanks to this guanxi?

Which overseas Chinese associations are accredited to the government here? Is there a list? Presumably Taiwanese and mainlanders have separate ones. Are these political groupings, or clan associations, or what? And what about non-Han associations like the Tibetans have?

users.dircon.co.uk/~litrev/r … riads.html

[quote]For years in Hong Kong I tried to nail down hard information about the Triads. I chatted with policemen who, chuckling mordantly, gave me details – and then stated they were off the record. When I asked why they arrested only very small Triad fry (unless they caught a big fish by mistake during a shoot-out), [b]they chuckled some more and shook their heads at my na