De Facto Dual Nationality in Chinese Law and Practice
China: An International Journal 2022, 20(1), 24–45
29 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2022
Date Written: February 25, 2022
While recent policies issued by the government advocate the return of overseas Chinese and the attraction of skilled foreign nationals to the country, the People’s Republic of China still rejects the recognition of dual nationality. This article aims to present scenarios of de facto dual nationality, resulting from the implementation of Chinese nationality law. It discusses three main scenarios: children who acquire Chinese and foreign nationality by birth, former Chinese citizens that do not cancel their household registrations, and Chinese officials who naturalise elsewhere but yet are denied the right to voluntary expatriation by the Chinese state and are treated as single nationals. These scenarios are examples of how the non-recognition of dual nationality under Chinese law conflicts with the interest of individuals. Legal and procedural inconsistencies of the Chinese state, too, have created inconsistent implementation of nationality law. Public administration of nationality law and the Chinese household registration (hukou) system are often conflicting, and China’s diplomatic efforts in holding up single nationality as the sole legal rule have contrasted with its focus on maintaining control over former citizens who naturalise elsewhere. The authors conclude that enhanced cooperation between authorities will make problems related to the enforcement of the single nationality rule more obvious, while underlying major problems persist, such as the conflicting implementation of nationality and household registration or inconsistent interpretation of the scope of control of the state over its former citizens. The authors suggest that the possibility to apply for permanent residence and the rights attached to it should be enhanced to safeguard participation in social security and political life, especially for foreign children and skilled foreign nationals.
Keywords: Dual nationality, skilled migration, Chinese migration law, nationality law
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