To reverse brain drain, China should be more flexible on dual citizenship

Interesting arguments but likely overstates the importance of dual citizenship as a factor in facilitating a return of former Chinese nationals to China, particularly given Chinese government general repression (not limited to Uyghurs and Hong Kong) and control (e.g., COVID lockdowns):

Citizenship has become a sensitive topic in China. Every so often, you’ll see lists in the Chinese media – of film stars who hold foreign passports, or billionaires who made money in China but now hold foreign passports. On the Chinese internet, some of these individuals get labelled as unpatriotic, or worse.

One of netizens’ latest targets is Harvard physics professor Xi Yin, a China-born prodigy who has been quoted as saying he has no plans to return to his native country at present. A US citizen now, Yin is also married to an American woman.

China does not allow dual citizenship. The line of reasoning seems to be that the authorities don’t want to create a group of people who enjoy too much privilege, or potentially allow criminals to evade punishment. Critics say it is a way of ensuring citizens’ loyalty or maintaining a monoculture.

But much of the rest of the world has moved on, with more countries embracing dual citizenship against the backdrop of globalisation. Back in the 1960s, only one-third of countries allowed dual citizenship. Today, 75 per cent do.

Perhaps China should follow suit. It would help reverse the brain drain from the country.

Around the time Deng Xiaoping launched the reform and opening up policy, students were sent abroad to study, in countries including the US, Canada and the UK. This trend did not always pay off. In 2007, China Daily reported that, between 1978 and 2006, 1.06 million Chinese went overseas for studies and more than 70 per cent chose not to return. At that time, China probably suffered the most severe brain drain in the world.

To tackle the problem, Beijing has increased investment in higher education, and research and development. It introduced programmes such as the Thousand Talents Planto lure back leading Chinese talent. Under the plan “sea turtles”, or returnees from overseas – in Chinese, the two terms are homonyms – may receive a one-time bonus of 1 million yuan (US$148,400). However, the programme has reportedly delivered mixed results. Not nearly enough sea turtles swim home.

As China grew rich, it became common practice among affluent families to send children abroad for further education. Between 2015 and 2019, 80 per cent of these students did return. Yet, China is still losing first-rate talent. In recent years, a reported 80 per cent of Chinese PhD students in the US have been reluctant to return.

Many developing countries in the world lose talent to the US, but China probably suffers more, especially in the realm of hi-tech. Those bright Chinese minds working at the cutting edge of American technology might also be hampering China’s own tech ambitions.

Indeed, China’s hope of dominating artificial intelligence may be threatened by the brain drain. According to a study conducted by MacroPolo, a think tank run by the Paulson Institute, Chinese researchers accounted for a quarter of the authors whose papers were accepted by a prestigious AI conference in 2019.

However, three-quarters of the Chinese authors were working outside China, and 85 per cent of those were working in the US, at tech giants such as Google or universities like UCLA.

Source: To reverse brain drain, China should be more flexible on dual citizenship

Legally Becoming a Ukrainian Citizen Now “Even More Difficult” – KyivPost – Ukraine’s Global Voice

More on the proposed changes:

Ukraine is one of only about 26 nations that does not allow dual citizenship. In recent times, including immediately before the February invasion, there were calls to change the citizenship laws to reflect the modern reality of what citizenship could mean in Ukraine.

Proponents argued that some foreigners, by merit, deserved citizenship: Such as foreigners who came to Ukraine and volunteered in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, deserved the right of obtaining Ukrainian citizenship without relinquishing their other passport. Other arguments were more pragmatic: millions of Ukrainians live outside of Ukraine, many send money home which contributes to the roughly 10% of pre-war GDP of Ukraine, and have obtained foreign passports which should not deprive them of their right to being Ukrainian.

Likewise, arguments were made that the current citizenship laws put Ukrainians living under occupation, such as in the Donbas, in legal limbo if they have chosen, or been forced, to receive a “DNR” or “LNR” passports. The hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of Ukrainians in Crimea may have less appetite for returning home to Ukraine if they felt that they would be discriminated against for having received Russian passports – said some.

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Zelenski tasked Prime Minister Denis Shmygal with investigating how best an exam of the Ukrainian language could be introduced for those seeking to obtain Ukrainian citizenship. The President’s instructions came following a public petition that had been signed by over 25,000 Ukrainian citizens.

What will happen next with the legislation is unclear, but given the strongly patriotic public sentiment now in Ukraine, it is likely that the language exam will be introduced in the near future.

Source: Legally Becoming a Ukrainian Citizen Now “Even More Difficult” – KyivPost – Ukraine’s Global Voice

B.C. scholar with expired Chinese passport says renewing it could put personal safety at risk

Reasonable assessment of risk:

A prominent Chinese human rights scholar working in Vancouver says her career and personal safety are at risk because of an expired passport and delays in Canada’s immigration system.

Guldana Salimjan is a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University, who also directs the University of British Columbia’s Xinjiang Documentation Project, a federally-funded program documenting the internment of ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. The project has been referenced during debates in Parliament.

Salimjan has a job pending at Indiana University in the U.S. — but no paperwork to cross the Canada-U.S. border.

Source: B.C. scholar with expired Chinese passport says renewing it could put personal safety at risk

Kluth: Golden Passports, Citizenship and Identity in a Time of War

On the intersection of citizenship and identities, never as simple as presented. But citizenship decisions, like all decisions, have consequences:

As a dual citizen who hangs out with polyglots carrying several passports each, I can attest that identity is a complicated thing. It’ll never be captured adequately by lists of checkboxes — from age and sex to race, religion, profession or indeed citizenship. Just glance across Europe right now.

In one corner, Ukrainians are fighting heroically to preserve their distinct national identity against Russia, whose despot denies they have one. Some of the defenders speak Ukrainian as a mother tongue, others Russian or something else. The older ones used to be citizens of another entity, the Soviet Union. But now their allegiance is to Ukraine.

Right next door is the European Union. It’s a confederation that recognizes overlapping and thus ambiguous layers of identity and citizenship, including both a European and a national tier. Moreover, many of its members have in the past been quite relaxed about granting citizenship to outsiders, provided those have money. In return for big investments, these foreigners got “golden passports.”

The EU never liked these schemes, seeing them as mechanisms to dodge taxes or conduct other monkey business. That’s why it has leaned on countries like Bulgaria, Cyprus or Malta to quit the practice. Since the attack on Ukraine, the EU started cracking down harder. It fears that golden EU passports given to Russian oligarchs or Kremlin-cronies — granting them all the rights of other Europeans — could subvert the sanctions passed against them.

Ukraine and the EU are bookends around a variegated subject. People gain multiple citizenships for all sorts of reasons. Some Brits, in the run-up to Brexit, remembered an Irish grandmother to get themselves an EU passport. Many descendants of German Jews or other victims of the Nazis have exercised their right to become German citizens. Immigrants get naturalized in many countries every day.

Other bi-nationals, like me, simply fall between jus solis— Latin for “right of the soil” — and jus sanguinis — the “right of the blood,” creepy as that term sounds nowadays. That means we automatically got one citizenship through our place of birth, and another through our parentage.

Sometimes these twists of fate are boons that give people more options in life. Other times, they are banes, as for so-called “accidental Americans” — those who were born in the U.S. but lost contact with the country as babies or children, and often don’t even speak English. And yet, owing to the peculiar American tax system — which is based on citizenship rather than residence — they face a nightmare of compliance paperwork and are often barred from financial services in their home country.

Even in extreme cases, however, citizenship is rarely as problematic as the lack of it. Millions of people around the world — Palestinians, Rohingya, Kurds and others — are stateless. Their sense of identity is just as strong. But without the right papers, they often live in limbo.

Historically, the idea of citizenship has morphed enough to make the concept seem almost arbitrary. It originated in city states (poleis in Greek, the root of “politics”) such as ancient Athens or Thebes, where it described the rights and duties of rich, non-slave men. But during the Middle Ages, the notion all but disappeared. Identity and standing were instead based on a person’s feudal class — such as peasantry, clergy or aristocracy.

When the idea of citizenship returned in the modern era — especially with the American and French revolutions — it was again based on a covenant between an individual and a state. The former got rights (to vote, for example) but also responsibilities (to pay taxes, say).

Even so, citizenship rarely fits neatly with more slippery notions about identity. If you had an interesting life in the 20th century, you could have held papers issued variously by Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bosnia Herzegovina — and identified all along as Serb, Croat or something else. Latinx Americans, Turkish Germans, Algerian French — ever more identities in the modern world are hyphenated and thus complex.

That’s even true for people with only one citizenship — especially if they’re “army brats” or children of expats. Raised in countries other than the one named on their passport, such “third-culture kids” tend to float between contexts, sometimes feeling unmoored but also showing unusual flexibility and tolerance. Many feel most at home with other cosmopolitans of any nation rather than their own compatriots.

For some people who feel unambiguously rooted in their countries, such fluid identities can be provocations. Populism has been blamed in part on a backlash by so-called “somewheres” against the allegedly footloose “anywheres.”

The multinationals in turn chafe at the taunts of their compatriots who don’t consider them “real” Americans, Germans, Japanese or whatever. They consider these labels attempts at exclusion, and power grabs.

The reality is that identity and allegiance are highly individual and subjective. Take Eileen Gu. She’s an American-born freestyle skier with a Chinese mother, who competed for the U.S. before winning two gold medals and a silver in this year’s Olympics for China, a country that doesn’t even recognize dual citizenship. Is that fair or foul? Neither, I’d say. It’s simply up to her.

Part of freedom is choosing our communities, allegiances and loyalties. And part of tolerance is respecting the choices of others. In the modern world, those decisions are sometimes confusing, other times urgent and clear. Just ask the brave Ukrainians fighting for their country right now.

Source: Golden Passports, Citizenship and Identity in a Time of War

Federal government warns Canadians against fighting for Russia in Ukraine

Of note. Apart from some of the legal issues raised in the article, always felt from a citizenship perspective that taking up arms for another country suggested a higher loyalty to that country than Canada (which country are you willing to die for?). The citizenship oath requires one to “faithfully observe the laws of Canada,” which again, as noted by the experts cited in the article, have considerable ambiguity.

And of course, there are differences in terms of which military one fights for (formal allies such as NATO members or informal ones such as Ukraine and more arguably Israel) or whether, more questionable, fighting for foreign brigades or irregular forces (fighting for a listed entity like ISIS would be in contravention of Canadian laws):

Ottawa is warning that Canadians who decide to fight for Russia in Ukraine could face severe consequences, even as it acknowledges for the first time uncertainties about whether it is legal to bear arms for the Ukrainian side.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered the warning to anyone contemplating joining the Russian military invasion of Ukraine on Thursday as she announced more Canadian sanctions on Moscow and support for Kyiv in response to that attack.

Asked at a news conference whether Canadians who pick up arms for Russia would be prosecuted, Freeland said: “We are very clear that this war is illegal. And Canada will take a very appropriately severe view of anyone who is fighting this war.”

Yet federal ministers appeared less confident about the legality of fighting for Ukraine, whose government appealed last weekend for foreign volunteers to join an “international brigade” to help defend the country from Russia.

Numerous Canadians have since said they plan to answer the call to arms, with some having already flown overseas.

Appearing alongside Freeland, Defence Minister Anita Anand told reporters that while she understood the desire that many Canadians have to bear arms for Ukraine, “the legalities of the situation … are indeterminant at this time.”

The federal government had previously avoided directly addressing the legality of Canadians fighting in Ukraine, or whether it supports those who want to do so. Federal ministers instead couched the issue as a matter of personal risk.

That stood in stark contrast to the United Kingdom and Australia, whose governments have noted the potential legal issues that their citizens could face if they fight in a conflict that does not involve their countries.

Anand instead encouraged people to enlist with the Canadian Armed Forces, which has launched a new recruitment drive as it struggles with a shortfall of thousands of active service members while facing growing demands at home and abroad.

“If there are Canadians who are interested in the Armed Forces, the Canadian Armed Forces is currently recruiting,” said Anand, who worked as a lawyer and legal scholar at the University of Toronto prior to entering politics.

“And we would very much welcome applications from across the country to the Canadian Armed Forces, where we have had a training mission in Ukraine since 2015 and have trained over 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later sidestepped a similar question about the legality of Canadians fighting for Ukraine, referring back to the government’s previous warnings about the risks of travel in Ukraine before adding that he was not a lawyer.

While Freeland did not say whether Canadians who fight for Russia could be prosecuted, author and historian Tyler Wentzell suspected federal lawyers are now taking a hard, long look at the Foreign Enlistment Act and how it can apply today.

Passed in 1937, the act was intended to keep Canada neutral during the Spanish Civil War and basically banned joining a foreign military to fight a country Canada considers “friendly.” Those who violate the law can face a fine of up to $2,000 and two years in prison.

But exactly what counts as a friendly country is not defined, and Wentzell noted the act specifically gives cabinet the power and flexibility to determine which foreign conflicts are allowed or banned.

“They can issue regulations that unequivocally say: You can’t join the Russian Armed Forces,” said Wentzell, who has studied Canadians’ involvement in previous foreign conflicts and written a book on Canadians fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

“They can also issue regulations that say: We will not prosecute anyone, or we require ministerial authorization to prosecute anyone for the following offences.”

Some experts have noted that certain paramilitary units in Ukraine, and even some segments of the Ukrainian military, have been linked to far-right extremism and hate, and even accused of past war crimes.

That has raised concern about Canadians who decide to fight against Russia either knowingly or unknowingly becoming involved with such units and becoming complicit in such activities and later held to account.

Wentzell said it is noteworthy that the government is not only discouraging Canadians from fighting in Ukraine, “they’re not promising anything. In fact, what they’re really saying is that they’re not promising anything.”

Source: Federal government warns Canadians against fighting for Russia in Ukraine

Germany’s new leader has a plan for the migrant crisis

Of note:

When Olaf Scholz made his first major speech as German chancellor in mid-December, it was closely watched for signs of how he would continue Angela Merkel’s successes – and how he would fix her mistakes.

Scholz focused mainly on his priorities for the pandemic and climate change, as might be expected given the continued discovery of new Covid-19 variants and his center-left coalition.

But almost unremarked was a small but far-reaching change, designed to solve one of the most taxing of German problems – what to do about the large number of refugees inside the country. The issue is still a source of controversy among Germans over whether it counts as a success or a failure of the Merkel years. In outlining his new approach, Scholz said Germany would for the first time allow dual citizenship.

Source: Germany’s new leader has a plan for the migrant crisis

Actor Nicholas Tse renouncing Canadian citizenship amid China’s ‘blacklist’

Seems to be getting a fair amount of coverage:

Hong Kong-born action film actor Nicholas Tse (謝霆鋒) was seen on Chinese TV Sunday (Sept. 5) claiming that he is in the process of renouncing his Canadian citizenship amid rumors he is among the next to be blacklisted by China’s censors.

In late August, the name and likeness of Chinese actress Zhao Wei (趙薇, Vicky Zhao) were suddenly scrubbed from Chinese online streaming sites and social media pages. Last week, rumors began to swirl on Chinese social media that seven famous Chinese actors with foreign citizenship had been placed on a “reorganization list” by the National Radio and Television Administration.

In addition to Tse, the list allegedly includes Jet Li (李連傑), Zhang Tielin (張鐵林), Crystal Liu Yifei (劉亦菲), Will Pan (潘瑋柏), Wang Lee Hom (王力宏), and Mark Chao (趙又廷). Li has Singaporean citizenship; Zhang is a British citizen; Liu, Pan, and Wang have American citizenship; and Tse and Chao have Canadian citizenship.

On Sunday, an excerpt from CCTV 6 program “Blue Feather Reception Room” (藍羽會客室) that featured Tse was posted on Weibo. When asked to expand on his drive to share Chinese culture with the world, Tse said that as he has matured, he has developed this “sense of responsibility.”

In response to netizens’ comments about his Canadian citizenship, Tse stressed, “I was born in Hong Kong, China, so I was originally Chinese.” Addressing questions about his loyalty to China, he said: “In fact, I have already begun applying to renounce my Canadian citizenship.”

Tse pledged that regardless of whether it’s food, action movies, or music, he has a “sense of responsibility to spread these great things from our motherland to the whole world.”

He was born in Hong Kong in 1980, moved to Vancouver, Canada, with his parents in 1987, and currently holds dual citizenship. He lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for one year before dropping out of high school as a sophomore and moving back to Hong Kong, where he was discovered by a talent scout in 1997, according to his IMDB profile.

Source: Actor Nicholas Tse renouncing Canadian citizenship amid China’s ‘blacklist’

Pakistan’s problem—Dual citizenship

Overly simplistic to blame all problems on dual citizenship. Some other countries that do not formally allow dual citizenship have similar issues although may be more acute in Pakistan:

So much has been written about why Pakistan is fast becoming a basket case but none of what I have read on Pakistan from the world’s greatest analysts have come to the root problem—It is because Pakistan allows dual citizenships. None of the elites have a stake in Pakistan—not the generals; not the politicians nor the big business or feudal families.

Everyone one who can get a Western passport, along with their Pakistani ones has their kids studying and then working abroad and when these elitists retire, they have sent enough money abroad to live a life of luxury but their dollars came from deals they did living in Pakistan.

Tarek Fatah often talks about the mini-Pakistan of ISI and armed officers in Canada where they have been able to buy the best of properties and even have their own fancy club where they can act just like they did the Pakistan. No wonder even the poor try to escape as refugees along with Syrians, Afghans and other failed state migrants to Europe.

India does not allow dual citizenship and as a developing country I think it was the right decision to take. Thus, even our blatantly rich and corrupt politicians who manage to get millions of dollars abroad, round trip it back to India to invest.

While in Pakistan the military who own a whole industrial empire would rather invest their ill- gotten gains in Papa Johns Pizza and malls and real estate in the US. It almost seems that they have no faith in their country or no real stake. Such a mindset robs the country of not only the foreign aid that comes to it but also is not concerned about the ordinary citizens of the country. It almost feels like the elite use the country as a steeping stone to settle abroad.

Indian generals never go abroad to retire. Most Pakistani generals have one foot in Pakistan and another via their dollar wealth, abroad with their children as well as their extended families.

I feel if you do not have a solid stake in your country than all you are working for is robbing it as Pakistani elite have been doing for the last 70 years. I am convinced this is because of the dual nationality the country allows.

How can one possibly owe allegiance to two countries and when it comes to choosing would you live in a failing state where the there are massive power shortages; very high food inflation; water problem; irregular cooking gas; a huge shortage of medicines, vaccines and medical care; and growing poverty, or would you ditch and run to a Western country, in which you have invested and which has the rule of law and much better standard of living?

If Pakistan was to ban dual citizenship as it should than the well-educated army brats and generals and politicians would have to make their country livable and work harder at doing that. Even when they scam the system– as corruption and greed go together– at least they will have to invest it in businesses and factories in Pakistan. It will compel them to bring about policies that make Pakistan a viable place for industry and will force them to have more of a stake in making their nation better. This can only happen if Pakistan bans dual citizenship and I am convinced that if the nation does this it can recover from the malaise it is in.

Source: Pakistan’s problem—Dual citizenship

These Asian countries are giving dual citizens an ultimatum on nationality — and loyalty

Good overview:
Anna was born with the right to dual citizenship, because she has a Japanese mother and American father. She spent her life traveling between both countries, and says she felt deeply connected to the two cultures.
But Japan requires those with multiple passports to pick one by the age of 22 — an impossible choice for Anna, who requested a pseudonym for privacy reasons.
“I’m mixed race, I’ve lived both in Japan and the US, I speak both languages, I am completely split down the middle in terms of my identity,” she said. “It’s like asking someone whether they love their mother or father more. It’s such a cruel question.”
The past few decades have seen people travel and live abroad more, with the number of international migrants — people who changed their country of residence for at least a year — tripling from 1970 to 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration.
At the same time, tolerance to dual citizenship has generally increased. In 1960, less than one-third of countries allowed citizens to acquire a second nationality, compared to three-quarters today, according to a 2019 paper by Maartin Vink, professor of political sociology of Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
Asia is an exception to that trend. It is the world’s most restrictive region in terms of dual citizenship, with only 65% of countries and territories permitting it, according to the Maastricht Center for Citizenship, Migration and Development. To put that in perspective, 91% do in the Americas, which rank as the most liberal.
And some Asian countries are tightening their immigration laws. Japan reinforced its strict stance in January when a court upheld the country’s ban against dual citizenship, rejecting a lawsuit filed by Japanese citizens living in Europe. Hong Kong took a harder line in February, barring dual citizens from receiving consular protection — a step never before taken in the Chinese city, where dual citizenship is not legally allowed but had been tolerated.
“Dual nationality is not recognized in the Chinese Nationality Law,” said Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam in February. “That is very clear. We are strictly enforcing or implementing that particular policy.”
There are a number of reasons why the region is so resistant toward dual citizenship, including histories of conflict and colonialism. But in some countries, critics say the ban on dual citizenship also reflects a tilt toward nationalism — and the desire to maintain a monoethnic, monocultural identity.

Loyalty and nationalism

In Asia Pacific, only a few places accept dual citizenship with no caveats, including Cambodia, East Timor, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
Most countries are against it, although some choose not to strictly enforce their policies, allowing people to keep multiple passports by simply not declaring them. Others allow dual citizenship in restricted forms: the Philippines permits it for those who were born Filipino citizens, but not for naturalized Filipinos. South Korea allows children born to its nationals abroad to hold the passport of both their birth country and their parents.
One reason why many Asian countries oppose dual nationality is a belief that it can create divided loyalties among citizens, said Jelena Dzankic, co-director of the Global Citizenship Observatory (GLOBALCIT), an international citizenship research network. “The reason why, historically and traditionally, countries have not been permissive of dual nationality is because, whom are you going to defend if the two of our countries go to war?” she said.
Japan drafted its current nationality laws shortly after World War II, when many Japanese Americans were put in internment camps in the US; other dual citizens renounced their loyalty to the Japanese Emperor for their own safety, said Atsushi Kondo, a law professor at Japan’s Meijo University.
In one famous case, a US-born Japanese-American dual citizen worked in Japan for a company that oversaw American prisoners of war. Upon his return to the US after the war, he was sentenced to death on treason charges. He was eventually pardoned and deported to Japan — but for decades afterward, Japanese lawmakers pointed to this case as an example of the conflicting obligations that came with dual nationality.
“In wartime, double citizenship showed disadvantage,” Kondo said. “But in peacetime, dual citizens have many advantages” — including visa-free travel to more countries, greater international employment opportunities, potentially cheaper university education, and more. There are modern downsides, too — for instance, US dual citizens have to pay double taxation, but that’s not the case for most countries.
The international context has now changed, and Japan’s “beliefs are a little outdated,” he added — yet the government is reluctant to open up immigration laws and risk upsetting conservative voters.
China’s ban on dual nationality is also to ensure that its nationals are “only giving undivided loyalty to the government,” said Low Choo Chin, a history lecturer at the Universiti Sains Malaysia. During the Cold War era, China’s efforts to normalize relations with neighboring countries and end international isolation were hampered because “overseas Chinese were associated with revolutionary activities” and Communist uprisings, Low wrote in a 2016 paper. So, the Communist government formulated the current nationality law in 1980 to resolve “diplomatic frictions” and to “end divided loyalty among the overseas Chinese.”
Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the government has cracked down on dual citizens, encouraging the public to report people secretly holding two passports. Those caught can find their access to public services curtailed.
The crackdown is part of the government’s anti-corruption efforts against “dual nationals taking advantage of the grey areas in the law, and trying to evade legal sanctions with (their) foreign nationality status … fleeing abroad, transferring their assets,” said Low, pointing to estimates by the Chinese central bank that 18,000 corrupt officials may have fled the country with 800 billion yuan ($122 billion) between the mid-1990s and 2008.
The matter of citizenship was thrust to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the midst of a crisis that transcended national boundaries, governments were suddenly faced with questions like: Which citizens do we claim as our own? For whom are we responsible? Who do we protect?
Because China doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, many Chinese nationals were forbidden from evacuating back to their country of second citizenship — even if that was their place of birth or primary residency.
There were cases of families split apart; one British woman was told she could not evacuate with her 3-year-old son because he has a Chinese passport, even though he is also a British citizen with a British passport. In the face of international pressure, the government eventually relented.

Ethnicity and blood

The idea of loyalty to a single country and culture, particularly in East Asia, may also “imply the desire to maintain a cohesive ethnocultural identity,” said Dzankic, of GLOBALCIT. Several of the countries that don’t allow dual citizenship are also highly homogenous — for instance, 92% of China is Han Chinese, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.
And one of the easiest ways for a country to control its ethnic makeup is through the type of citizenship it chooses to recognize.
There are multiple ways of obtaining a first, or second, citizenship, including through marriage, adoption and naturalization. But the most common ways are birthright citizenship (jus soli) — meaning babies automatically gain citizenship of the country they are born in — and through parental descent (jus sanguinis), which sees childrenautomatically gain the citizenship of their parents.
In Asia, the vast majority of countries today don’t recognize birthright citizenship, one of the quickest ways for ethnically foreign or minority populations to grow in a country.
Or if they do, it is so with certain conditions, according to GLOBALCIT. South Korea, for instance, only applies birthright citizenship for children whose parents are unknown or have no nationality — so if a child born on Korean soil has been abandoned, or its parents are stateless, it will receive Korean citizenship.
“A shift from jus soli to jus sanguinis has been witnessed in Asia in the course of the twentieth century,” wrote Olivier Vonk at the Maastricht Centre in a 2017 paper. Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India are among the countries that have transitioned to primarily recognizing citizenship by descent.
The type of citizenship recognized, and the rigidity of a country’s restrictions, influence how diverse or homogenous its population can be, said Kondo.
“South Korea was also a monoethnic country in the old days,” he said. “But they changed the policies, so they are more relaxed to double citizens now … And now they are considered multi-ethnic, or a multicultural country,” Kondo added.
South Korea liberalized its nationality law with sweeping amendments in 2010, which allowed permanent dual citizenship for its nationals for the first time (albeit under specific circumstances); dual citizens who fall outside those circumstances were given longer to choose; and a special naturalization path was created for talented individuals.
Japan remains strict in its nationality laws and is ethnically homogenous, said Kondo, though the government’s statistics don’t include an ethnic breakdown.
“Maybe ordinary Japanese (consider) ethnicity and citizenship as equal … Such a traditional feeling is strong in common Japanese,” he said.
Even some current politicians believe Japan “should be a monoethnic country,” he said.
Even the term jus sanguinis, citizenship by descent, implies ethnicity, said Anna, who is now based in the UK and declined to disclose her current citizenship status. The Latin translation means “right of blood,” and Japanese citizenship is built on this idea — so “the idea of blood is very strong in their understanding of citizenship.”
If a naturalized Japanese citizen who isn’t ethnically Japanese gives birth, that child would automatically become a Japanese citizen — but social attitudes and norms continue to draw lines around ethnicity, she said. There continues to be bullying in schools and a sense of social exclusion for biracial or mixed-race Japanese.
“It is this thought of blood purity … which is why even though I have Japanese citizenship, I’m not accepted as Japanese citizen in most cases because I’m not ‘purely’ Japanese as they would say … because I don’t look like them,” she said. “A lot of it is xenophobia. A lot of it is racism.”

Looking forward

The recent moves in China, Japan and Hong Kong suggest parts of Asia are moving further away from dual citizenship even as other parts of the world embrace it. Malawi, which had previously banned dual citizenship, amended its laws to allow it in 2019. Russia and Norway followed suit in 2020.
In Hong Kong, the future of dual citizenship is unclear. Though the government has insisted that it is taking a harder line in enforcement, it hasn’t provided information on what measures will be taken or how the city’s thousands of dual citizens will be affected.
“Maybe 70% of my friends have another passport,” said Janice Tam, a Hong Konger who also holds a British passport. She isn’t particularly worried about the government’s recent rhetoric — but “it depends on whether they force you to select one,” she said. “What is the consequence of that? If you’ve chosen your foreign passport, what do you still get if you stay in Hong Kong?”
Ella Wong, who holds Canadian and Hong Kong passports, is also “optimistic” that dual citizens might not be affected in their daily life. Her only concern is if Hong Kong continues to change its immigration laws to be similar to mainland China — or adopt mainland laws altogether.
“With the Hong Kong passport, you don’t know what it’s going to evolve into,” she said. “Could it become a Chinese passport, and then what does that mean in terms of travel and work and living?”
More broadly across Asia, most countries are unlikely to liberalize their laws anytime soon, said Low. The West “prioritizes liberalism, individual rights to (dual) nationality,” she said. “(But) in many Asian constitutions, access to citizenship is very tough for migrant communities because governments believe that the right to nationality is a privilege, not a right. In this context, it’s quite difficult to imagine that Asian governments would allow dual citizenship.”
Yet, experts and dual citizens remain hopeful that change will inevitably come as global migration grows. It takes time, said Vink, the Maastricht University professor.
And though they remain a minority, a few Asian countries have introduced new rules allowing for more flexible citizenship arrangements. India, for instance, created a new category of permanent residency in 2005 that allowed people of Indian descent to live and work in the country.
It’s still not dual citizenship — but it marked “a way of acknowledging the realities of a globalizing world and adapting to them step by step,” Dzankic said. “Even though countries are generally restrictive of dual citizenship, one could wonder whether those intermediate statuses could be a step or a move towards a more permissive policy.”
“I hope that the world will change,” she added. “What I think is essential or what will be important is a move towards dual nationality, not as a mechanism of being related to the state, but also as a mechanism for protecting individuals — for granting them greater life opportunities in the future.”

Source: These Asian countries are giving dual citizens an ultimatum on nationality — and loyalty

How Australia stripped alleged Isis fighter of citizenship without evaluating her case

Complete lack of due process:

New Zealand authorities are still refusing to comment publicly on the likely deportation from Turkey of Suhayra Aden, the former Australian-New Zealand dual citizen alleged by Turkish authorities to be an Islamic State terrorist.

But according to one report, it is likely New Zealand officials will eventually escort her from Turkey, along with her two children, aged two and five.

Aden was arrested in mid-February trying to enter Turkey from Syria. Her detention triggered a diplomatic row when it emerged that Australia had stripped the 26-year-old of her Australian citizenship, leaving New Zealand to deal with her predicament.

Born in New Zealand but having lived in Australia since she was six, Aden travelled to Syria on an Australian passport in 2014. Alleged to be involved with Isis, her Australian passport was cancelled in 2020. The timing of her actual loss of citizenship is less clear.

Media coverage has largely centred on New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s accusation that, in stripping Aden of her citizenship, Australia has “abdicated its responsibilities”.

Ardern was right. But what has been less well covered is how the Australian government disabled itself from making a decision – let alone an informed one – on that loss of citizenship.

Aden lost her citizenship automatically under a now-repealed law. That law deprived her of her citizenship without any Australian official evaluating her circumstances.

An automatic rule

Introduced under Tony Abbott’s prime ministership, the powers of citizenship deprivation were enacted in December 2015, early in the Malcolm Turnbull government. Automatic loss of Australian citizenship could occur if:

  • The person was aged over 14
  • They would not be rendered stateless (Aden’s New Zealand co-citizenship ensured this)
  • They had either fought for a declared terrorist organisation or engaged in “disallegient” conduct (defined with reference to various terrorist offences, though not incorporating key elements of those offences)

A person lost their Australian citizenship the instant the statutory conditions were met, irrespective of any official knowing this had occurred. Of course, officials could only act when they found out the relevant conditions had been met – but that might be years later, if ever.

Source: How Australia stripped alleged Isis fighter of citizenship without evaluating her case