Legality of Dual Citizenship in China Depends on the CCP’s Needs: Expert

News Analysis Dual nationality is not recognized in China, according to the country’s Nationality Law—but the law might be ignored if it is in the communist ruling party’s interest and what it deems necessary. For example, the Chinese regime banned the Australian government from intervening in the rescue of a Hongkonger arrested last year on the grounds of not recognizing his dual nationality, or it could allow athletes who retain foreign nationality to obtain Chinese nationality and thus qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) double standard and approach regarding this issue has raised public concern. Li Yuanhua, a former associate professor at Capital Normal University’s College of Education and Science, told The Epoch Times that whether China recognizes dual nationality or not depends on the CCP’s needs. “If one’s dual nationality is beneficial for [the CCP], they can turn a blind eye to it; while if one’s dual nationality is to the detriment of them, they will impose the Nationality Law [on the person] as a [restricting] approach,” Li said. No Dual Nationality Recognition for Australian Hong Kong Resident Australian media revealed on Feb. 8 that a Hong Kong man of dual Australian and Chinese nationality was arrested in Hong Kong on charges of “conspiracy to subvert state power” and that Hong Kong authorities had refused Australian diplomats’ attempts to provide consular assistance to the man, citing that “China does not recognize dual nationality.” A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that in January 2021, Hong Kong authorities notified the Australian consulate general in Hong Kong of the arrest of a man with dual Australian and Chinese citizenship for allegedly violating the Hong Kong national security law. Australian officials accordingly attended the subsequent court hearing. But the Hong Kong side refused the Australian side’s repeated requests for visits, with the excuse that the man is a Chinese citizen under China’s Nationality Law. Chief executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam made an official statement on this matter, saying Hong Kong people with dual nationality are not entitled to foreign consular assistance because they are still considered Chinese citizens in Hong Kong under the interpretation of the CCP’s rubber-stamp legislature, unless those with foreign nationality apply and are granted permission to renounce their Chinese nationality. The Australian foreign office did not disclose the identity of the Australian citizen but said Australian diplomats were in regular contact with the arrestee’s lawyer. Ming Pao, a Chinese media in Hong Kong, said on Feb. 8 that Wu Zhengheng, who has dual nationality in Australia and China, was arrested on Jan. 6, 2021, as one of 47 people involved with the pro-democracy primary election for Hong Kong’s 2020 legislative council election, and was charged with “subversion of state power” in violation of the Hong Kong version of the national security law. Li said, “Only if [the CCP] approves you [a Hong Kong person] to give up Chinese nationality, otherwise, you are still considered a Chinese citizen, and then its draconian laws can be applied to you.” Li believes this was a way for the CCP to retaliate against Australia for its alliance with the United States and Japan in resisting the Chinese communist regime. Public Doubts About Eileen Gu’s Dual Nationality On Feb. 8, the same day when Australian media revealed the Hong Kong resident’s dual nationality affairs, American-born Eileen Gu won the gold medal for China in the women’s freestyle ski jump final at the Beijing Winter Olympics, prompting concerns about whether Gu holds dual nationality and has violated China’s Nationality Law under the direction of authorities. Gu must hold Chinese nationality in order to represent China in the Olympic Games, as stipulated in Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter. An athlete participating in the Olympic Games must be a citizen of the country that selected him or her to compete; if the athlete holds dual or multiple nationalities, he or she can only choose one of them. According to Article 3 of China’s Nationality Law, Chinese citizens are not recognized as having dual nationality; Article 8 stipulates those foreign nationals who have been approved for Chinese nationality can no longer retain foreign nationality. But does Gu also have U.S. citizenship? At the press conference, Gu did not respond directly to questions about her nationality. “I’m American when I’m in the U.S. and I’m Chinese when I’m in China,” she said. The Chinese language version of Voice of America (VOA) reported on Feb. 12 that on the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee’s website, one sentence in Gu’s original English biography said she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a Chinese national so that she could represent China at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which co

Legality of Dual Citizenship in China Depends on the CCP’s Needs: Expert

News Analysis

Dual nationality is not recognized in China, according to the country’s Nationality Law—but the law might be ignored if it is in the communist ruling party’s interest and what it deems necessary. For example, the Chinese regime banned the Australian government from intervening in the rescue of a Hongkonger arrested last year on the grounds of not recognizing his dual nationality, or it could allow athletes who retain foreign nationality to obtain Chinese nationality and thus qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games.

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) double standard and approach regarding this issue has raised public concern.

Li Yuanhua, a former associate professor at Capital Normal University’s College of Education and Science, told The Epoch Times that whether China recognizes dual nationality or not depends on the CCP’s needs.

“If one’s dual nationality is beneficial for [the CCP], they can turn a blind eye to it; while if one’s dual nationality is to the detriment of them, they will impose the Nationality Law [on the person] as a [restricting] approach,” Li said.

No Dual Nationality Recognition for Australian Hong Kong Resident

Australian media revealed on Feb. 8 that a Hong Kong man of dual Australian and Chinese nationality was arrested in Hong Kong on charges of “conspiracy to subvert state power” and that Hong Kong authorities had refused Australian diplomats’ attempts to provide consular assistance to the man, citing that “China does not recognize dual nationality.”

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that in January 2021, Hong Kong authorities notified the Australian consulate general in Hong Kong of the arrest of a man with dual Australian and Chinese citizenship for allegedly violating the Hong Kong national security law. Australian officials accordingly attended the subsequent court hearing.

But the Hong Kong side refused the Australian side’s repeated requests for visits, with the excuse that the man is a Chinese citizen under China’s Nationality Law.

Chief executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam made an official statement on this matter, saying Hong Kong people with dual nationality are not entitled to foreign consular assistance because they are still considered Chinese citizens in Hong Kong under the interpretation of the CCP’s rubber-stamp legislature, unless those with foreign nationality apply and are granted permission to renounce their Chinese nationality.

The Australian foreign office did not disclose the identity of the Australian citizen but said Australian diplomats were in regular contact with the arrestee’s lawyer.

Ming Pao, a Chinese media in Hong Kong, said on Feb. 8 that Wu Zhengheng, who has dual nationality in Australia and China, was arrested on Jan. 6, 2021, as one of 47 people involved with the pro-democracy primary election for Hong Kong’s 2020 legislative council election, and was charged with “subversion of state power” in violation of the Hong Kong version of the national security law.

Li said, “Only if [the CCP] approves you [a Hong Kong person] to give up Chinese nationality, otherwise, you are still considered a Chinese citizen, and then its draconian laws can be applied to you.”

Li believes this was a way for the CCP to retaliate against Australia for its alliance with the United States and Japan in resisting the Chinese communist regime.

Public Doubts About Eileen Gu’s Dual Nationality

On Feb. 8, the same day when Australian media revealed the Hong Kong resident’s dual nationality affairs, American-born Eileen Gu won the gold medal for China in the women’s freestyle ski jump final at the Beijing Winter Olympics, prompting concerns about whether Gu holds dual nationality and has violated China’s Nationality Law under the direction of authorities.

Gu must hold Chinese nationality in order to represent China in the Olympic Games, as stipulated in Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter. An athlete participating in the Olympic Games must be a citizen of the country that selected him or her to compete; if the athlete holds dual or multiple nationalities, he or she can only choose one of them.

According to Article 3 of China’s Nationality Law, Chinese citizens are not recognized as having dual nationality; Article 8 stipulates those foreign nationals who have been approved for Chinese nationality can no longer retain foreign nationality.

But does Gu also have U.S. citizenship? At the press conference, Gu did not respond directly to questions about her nationality. “I’m American when I’m in the U.S. and I’m Chinese when I’m in China,” she said.

The Chinese language version of Voice of America (VOA) reported on Feb. 12 that on the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee’s website, one sentence in Gu’s original English biography said she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a Chinese national so that she could represent China at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which could be viewed on Feb. 9, but the content had been removed the next day.

An article on the German-language page of Olympics.com dated Jan. 21, 2021, mentions that Gu holds dual nationality. But the phrase, which still existed on the page on Feb. 5, was also removed, VOA said.

Eileen Gu, 18, was born in California to a Chinese American mother and an American father.

The U.S. Federal Register publishes a quarterly list of persons who have renounced their U.S. citizenship for tax purposes, but a search of the Federal Register did not yield any record of Eileen Gu renouncing her U.S. citizenship.

U.S. authorities have not commented on the issue of Gu’s U.S. citizenship, as they generally consider such decisions to be a matter of personal privacy.

CCP Lauds Gu’s Gold Medal, Quiet on Her Nationality

On Feb. 8, after Gu won the gold medal, China’s State Supervision Commission of the Central Discipline Inspection Commission did an exclusive interview with Gu on its official website.

The winter sports center of China’s General Administration of Sports also issued a congratulatory letter, expressing hopes that Gu and other Chinese skiers contribute more to “realize a strong sporting nation’s dream.”

On the same day, the retired cadres bureau of the Ministry of Transport published an article congratulating Gu, “a descendant of the country’s transportation system,” for winning the gold medal at the Games. The article indicated that Gu’s grandmother Feng Guozhen is a retired cadre of the CCP’s Ministry of Transportation.

The attitude of the CCP’s top echelon toward Gu is notable. “CCP’s Central Discipline Inspection Commission is a secret service agency, and the practice of interviewing athletes is very rare,” Li said.

Li said the CCP intended to use sports to package it as a strong nation, so it chose Gu, who was born, raised, and educated in the United States, to merely live in China for a period of time.

On the other hand, the official media kept silent on the issue of Gu’s nationality, seeming to tacitly acknowledge the legitimacy of her dual nationality in China. “If Gu had really given up her U.S. citizenship and joined the Chinese, the Communist Party would have made a big deal out of it,” said Li.

“Also, Gu is a student at Stanford University, so is she paying tuition at the rate of an overseas student?” Li believes that Gu has kept her American citizenship.

Chinese Dual Citizenship Could Be Exception for Foreign Athletes

Jeremy Smith currently plays for the Chinese Men’s National Hockey Team and participated in the Beijing Olympics as a naturalized team member, as did Eileen Gu.

Smith told ESPN that he was a goalie for the AHL Bridgeport Tigers, a division of the New York Islanders, during the 2018–19 hockey season, according to ESPN on Feb. 9.

Smith, 32, got an offer at the time to play professionally in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), which gave him a chance to be a goaltender for China’s team in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

ESPN said the Kunlun Red Star in Russia’s KHL served as an incubator for the Chinese men’s national team.

Smith told the China side that he can’t renounce his U.S. citizenship and felt odd about how to handle his playing for China’s team without a Chinese identity.

“They were like, ‘Do not worry. We will not ask you. This is not what this whole process is about. It’s about getting you qualified for the Olympics,’” recalled Smith.

In this way, Smith has dual nationality, American and Chinese, in this Beijing Olympic Games.

Besides Smith, China also brought in players like former NHLers Brandon Yip, Jake Chelios, and Spencer Foo. “[China] spent countless millions on hockey infrastructure and player development,” ESPN said.


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Kathleen Li has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009 and focuses on China-related topics. She is an engineer, chartered in civil and structural engineering in Australia.