Dual citizenship: Zelensky enacts NSDC decision on threats to national security

Aimed at Russian citizenship, will likely impact some Ukrainian Canadians:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has put into effect the National Security and Defense Council’s decision to counter threats to national security in the field of citizenship, the President’s Office has reported.

“President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed decree No. 85/2021, which puts into effect the National Security and Defense Council decision of February 26, 2021 ‘On urgent measures to counter threats to national security in the field of citizenship’,” the document reads.

According to the NSDC decision, the Cabinet of Ministers, together with the Central Election Commission and the Security Service of Ukraine, must conduct an inventory and analyze Ukrainian legislation on issues related to dual (multiple) citizenship within two months.

In particular, it is necessary to establish the presence or absence of legal certainty of the prohibition of citizens of Ukraine, who have the citizenship of a foreign state, to hold certain state and political positions or to perform the functions of state or local self-government.

Based on the results of such an analysis, the government must submit to the Verkhovna Rada within six months the draft laws that would prohibit Ukrainian citizens, who have the citizenship of a foreign state or have submitted documents (undergoing the procedure) for acquiring foreign citizenship, to apply for performing state or local government functions, to apply for holding senior positions at strategic state-owned facilities, to have access to state secrets, to be a member of an election commission, an official observer or to conduct election campaigning in national and local elections, and to be a member of a political party.

“It is also necessary to develop and submit to parliament a procedure for confirming the refusal and renunciation of the citizenship of a foreign state for citizens of Ukraine who apply for the above positions,” the statement said.

In addition, a procedure should be introduced at the legislative level for citizens of Ukraine to submit declarations on the acquisition of foreign citizenship. This procedure will be put into effect for residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk regions and Crimea only after the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Liability must be established for the submission of inaccurate information in declarations about the absence of foreign citizenship.

According to the NSDC decision, the government should also start an interstate dialogue on concluding bilateral agreements with interested states, except for the aggressor state, aimed at resolving issues related to dual (multiple) citizenship.

Source: Dual citizenship: Zelensky enacts NSDC decision on threats to national security

ICYMI: Revoking citizenship just global NIMBYism

Good commentary:

Last week, news broke that New Zealand-born woman Suhayra Aden had been detained with her surviving two children (aged five and two) near the Syrian border by Turkish authorities, who labelled her an Islamic State terrorist. She now faces the prospect of being deported to New Zealand – despite having not lived in New Zealand since childhood, and despite her family residing in Australia. Just how did this happen?

Aden left New Zealand aged six to live in Australia, and she eventually became an Australian citizen. In 2014, she reportedly travelled on her Australian passport to join the Islamic State. She was known to both Australian and New Zealand authorities, and the question of which country ought to be responsible in the event of her capture had been discussed by Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison.

However, Ardern was subsequently informed that Australia had revoked Aden’s citizenship, leading to the prospect of Aden’s deportation to New Zealand. Ardern expressed her disappointment, stating that she was “tired of having Australia export its problems”. Morrison responded that he was simply putting Australia’s national security first and that Aden’s citizenship had been automatically revoked under Australian law.

Underlying this diplomatic stoush is the phenomenon of citizenship deprivation for counterterrorism purposes, which some states have employed to bar the return of so-called foreign terrorist fighters – in essence, individuals who travel overseas to participate in an armed conflict with a terrorist group. In this case, by stripping Aden of her citizenship, Australia makes her New Zealand’s problem (since she is no longer legally entitled to return to Australia), while avoiding the international law prohibition on rendering people stateless (since she still has New Zealand citizenship).

Two provisions of the Australian Citizenship Act that were in force between December 2015 and September 2020 automatically revoked the citizenship of dual citizens aged 14 years or over if they engaged in various terrorism-related activities, served in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia, or fought for, or were in the service of, a declared terrorist organisation. These provisions operated automatically; no actual decision was needed to revoke citizenship. As soon as the person engaged in the specified conduct, the revocation occurred – as if by magic. In contrast, further action, such as the cancellation of a passport, requires official action.

From the standpoint of administrative fairness and accountability, these automatic provisions are deeply problematic. The practical obstacles to challenging the revocation of citizenship are daunting – not least because there was no ministerial decision to challenge, but also because notice that revocation had occurred could be lawfully delayed for several years. These provisions are also problematic from the standpoint of legal certainty. Since these provisions did not depend on any Australian official even being aware of the conduct triggering the loss of citizenship, it can be unclear who had actually had their citizenship revoked and when.

Take Aden’s case as an example. She reportedly travelled to Syria in 2014. But beyond her having three children to two Swedish men (both deceased), little is known about what she did there. If (as I think most likely) Aden’s citizenship was revoked because she was in the service of a declared terrorist organisation, she would have lost her Australian citizenship on or after May 6, 2016, the date the declaration that Islamic State was a terrorist organisation became effective. (As an aside, if the foregoing analysis is correct, Aden’s eldest child, reportedly aged five, would remain an Australian citizen by descent.)

The leader of the opposition, Judith Collins, suggested the Government has been outmanoeuvred by the Australian government and should have revoked Aden’s citizenship first. However, the only New Zealand legal provision that might have applied to Aden requires that she voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country and acted in a manner contrary to the interests of New Zealand. She must also have done these things “while a New Zealand citizen and while of or over the age of 18 years and of full capacity”. So in order for this provision to be applicable, Aden would have had to have acquired Australian citizenship only as an adult. Moreover, deprivation of citizenship requires a ministerial decision that is rightly subject to judicial scrutiny. Set against the Australian provisions that automatically revoke citizenship at the point in time specified conduct occurs, there was never much prospect of New Zealand winning this race to the bottom.

Dual citizenship offered Australia an easy out in Aden’s case; the law automatically revoking her citizenship conveniently obfuscated responsibility (the Australian government has, unsurprisingly, not drawn attention to its power to exempt a person from losing citizenship under these provisions). But Aden is just one instance of a broader phenomenon. The Syrian civil war attracted tens of thousands of foreigners, among them women. There are thousands of women, often with children, who find themselves in a similar situation to Aden. In the end, citizenship deprivation is a form of legalised NIMBYism with dual citizens as objects, and as such, is neither a sustainable nor internationally responsible way of addressing the problem.

Source: Revoking citizenship just global NIMBYism

Douglas Todd: China drops hammer on Hong Kong residents holding Canadian passports

Given that, according to an Asia Pacific Foundation poll that a majority of Canadian citizens resident in Hong Kong had only lived in Canada for 4 to 5 years (“Canadians of convenience” to use the previous government’s phrase), will be interesting to see how many return and when:

The leaders of Hong Kong are pressuring about 350,000 residents who hold Canadian passports to make an ultimate decision about their citizenship.

Under the thumb of Mainland China — which does not allow dual citizenship — the territorial government is squeezing people who have been living and working for decades in the financial hub while holding passports from other nations, most commonly Canada.

Ivison: 300,000 dual citizens in Hong Kong must choose between Canada and China after policy change

To watch the choices that these Canadian citizens make:

Ottawa is growing increasingly concerned about the rights of 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, after the territory’s government declared that dual citizens must choose the nationality they wish to maintain.

“Canada is aware of the Hong Kong government’s decision to require dual nationals to declare the nationality they wish to legally maintain while in Hong Kong,” said spokesperson John Babcock. “At this moment, we understand that this policy predominantly affects dual nationals serving prison sentences in Hong Kong. Canada has expressed its concern to the Hong Kong government about the possible loss of consular access that this change implies.”

China doesn’t recognize dual nationals under its Nationality Law and Hong Kong residents of Chinese descent are regarded as Chinese citizens. The Hong Kong government has stated that residents, around 300,000 of whom hold Canadian passports, are not entitled to consular protection unless they make a declaration of change of nationality. If that process is successful, they are no longer regarded as Chinese citizens – but it may affect their right of abode in Hong Kong, which allows people to live and work in the territory without restrictions. Foreign nationals can only acquire right of abode after a seven years residency requirement, which gives them the right to vote but not hold a territorial passport or stand for office.

Source: 300,000 dual citizens in Hong Kong must choose between Canada and China after policy change

Japan court upholds ban on dual citizenship

Of note:

A Japanese court upheld a ban on dual citizenship on Thursday, rejecting a suit that challenged the measure’s constitutionality and sought damages for those affected.

Japan is one of around 50 countries internationally, including China and South Korea, that only permits its citizens to hold one nationality.

Under current rules, Japanese people who acquire another passport are asked to relinquish their Japanese citizenship, but in 2018 eight plaintiffs started legal proceedings, arguing the rule was unconstitutional.

One of them, Hitoshi Nogawa, has told reporters that being forced to give up his nationality was a “painful experience.”

“I obtained Swiss nationality because my job requires it, but I’m emotionally attached to Japan and this is the foundation of my identity,” the Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted him as saying.

The plaintiffs are six men who have already obtained Swiss or Liechtenstein citizenship, and two Japanese men who want to obtain foreign citizenship without losing their Japanese passports, local media said.

They argued that the rule was a violation of the constitution’s right to pursue happiness and protection of equality under the law.

But on Thursday, the Tokyo district court rejected their suit and request for damages, a spokesman said, upholding the constitutionality of the rule.

The government argued there was no national interest in permitting multiple citizenships, Kyodo news agency reported.

The issue was thrust into the spotlight with the rise to fame of tennis star Naomi Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father but raised in the United States.

Osaka had dual citizenship but under Japanese law was technically required to choose one nationality when she turned 22, though authorities in Japan have been known to turn a blind eye to dual nationals in some circumstances.

The 23-year-old announced in 2019 that she would be renouncing her US citizenship.

Source: Japan court upholds ban on dual citizenship

Pro-establishment figure calls for curbs on Hongkongers obtaining dual citizenship

Further crackdown if reflects Beijing’s view and implemented:

Hong Kong’s former security chief has called on Beijing to effectively forbid obtaining dual nationality by revoking the right to live and vote in the city for any resident who acquired foreign citizenship after a “specified cut-off date”.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee’s proposal came as the city government hit back at the foreign ministers of the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia, who had jointly voiced serious concerns over last week’s mass arrest of 55 opposition politicians and activists in Hong Kong under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Even before the arrests, Hong Kong was already bracing for a surge of emigration after London created a new route to citizenship for locals eligible for British National (Overseas) status. The new visa scheme was envisioned as a lifeboat for Hongkongers in the wake of the imposition of the security law, which Britain has deemed a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Describing Britain’s offer as “a slap in the face of Chinese authorities”, Ip said it might be time for Beijing to end its special treatment of Hongkongers and enforce its own nationality law in the city.

“This could be done after a specified cut-off date. Thereafter, Hong Kong Chinese who acquire a foreign nationality of their own free will, will be deemed to have lost Chinese nationality, in strict accordance with Article 9 of the Chinese Nationality Law,” Ip, a government adviser on the Executive Council, the city leader’s de facto cabinet, wrote in an opinion piece in the Post on Sunday.

“If that happens, Hong Kong Chinese who acquire a foreign nationality by emigration or other means voluntarily would automatically lose their right to hold concurrently a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport. They could also lose the right of abode in Hong Kong and the attendant right to vote in Hong Kong elections.”

Source: Pro-establishment figure calls for curbs on Hongkongers obtaining dual citizenship

Douglas Todd: Second passports can come with big trouble for Chinese citizens

China is not the only country that does not recognize dual citizenship. Many turn a blind eye except in the case of high profile politicians and others.

China’s enforcement, however, is more thorough and rigorous, which may affect the naturalization rate (about 56 percent of immigrants from China have acquired Canadian citizenship compared to 93 percent of immigrants from Hong Kong):

There is no shortage of rich Chinese citizens picking up second passports to make travel easier and establish a safe haven for their families, particularly in the U.S., Australia, Britain and Canada.

But there’s a hitch: The People’s Republic of China, unlike the other countries above, doesn’t, technically, allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship.

As a result many China-born residents have avoided revealing to their home country they have a second or third passport. They do not want to renounce their Chinese citizenship, in part because it would make it hard to do business in the giant economy.

The complexities of global passport regulations are not something a lot of Canadians think about. But migration specialists say they are often on the minds of many of Canada’s 1.7 million ethnic Chinese, the majority of whom have links to either China or Hong Kong, which in 1997 became part of China.

The ramifications of running afoul of China’s passport rules can be devastating. And they relate in difficult ways to recent headlines — including Ottawa’s claim last week it has a plan to airlift more than 300,000 Canadian passport holders out of Hong Kong, the ongoing house arrest in Vancouver of Huawei CEO Meng Wangzhou and this week’s Canadian spy agency revelation that China’s agents are actively intimidating Chinese-Canadians.

Nationalistic China takes the opposite approach to citizenship than laissez-faire Canada. While Canada does little to track whether its passport holders keep a meaningful connection to this country, China’s authoritarian leaders are stepping up pressure on the 60 million Chinese people spread around the planet to be more loyal.

China, which accepts almost no immigrants, claims it’s jacking up enforcement to reign in allegedly corrupt Communist party officials and business leaders. But critics say President Xi Jinping is also determined to silence critics and squeeze political rivals.

There are many ways it has turned problematic for a citizen of China to have more than one passport:

You’re a Chinese citizen if China says you are

The ramifications of running afoul of China’s passport rules can be devastating. And they relate in difficult ways to recent headlines — including Ottawa’s claim last week it has a plan to airlift more than 300,000 Canadian passport holders out of Hong Kong, the ongoing house arrest in Vancouver of Huawei CEO Meng Wangzhou and this week’s Canadian spy agency revelation that China’s agents are actively intimidating Chinese-Canadians.

Nationalistic China takes the opposite approach to citizenship than laissez-faire Canada. While Canada does little to track whether its passport holders keep a meaningful connection to this country, China’s authoritarian leaders are stepping up pressure on the 60 million Chinese people spread around the planet to be more loyal.

China, which accepts almost no immigrants, claims it’s jacking up enforcement to reign in allegedly corrupt Communist party officials and business leaders. But critics say President Xi Jinping is also determined to silence critics and squeeze political rivals.

There are many ways it has turned problematic for a citizen of China to have more than one passport:

You’re a Chinese citizen if China says you are

With one poll showing 47 per cent of China’s rich want to move to another country, China’s authorities are discovering, including through the leak of the Panama Papers, many prominent citizens have been snagging passports from other countries. The consequences for some have been horrifying.

Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese billionaire, went through some hoops to obtain a Canadian passport. So he thought he was protected from Beijing’s security services.

But Xiao was abducted in 2017 from a Hong Kong hotel and taken to China.

Xiao’s family ran an ad on the front page of a Hong Kong newspaper quoting him saying, “I am under the protection of the Canadian consulate and Hong Kong law” and “I enjoy the right of diplomatic protection.”

But Xiao’s declaration was worthless. Canada could do nothing. He remains incarcerated in an unknown prison in China while the government dismantles his empire.

Then there’s Gui Minhai, who left China, his country of birth, to study in Sweden. He earned a Swedish passport. And, in a bid to do the right thing, he joined the relatively few who renounce their Chinese citizenship.

But then Gui set up a bookshop in Hong Kong, which published gossip about Chinese politicians. Gui was kidnapped in Thailand, at about the same time four other Hong Kong booksellers disappeared.

Gui showed up months later on an official Chinese television station mouthing an apparently forced confession. “Although I have Swedish citizenship, I truly feel I am still Chinese,” he said, urging the Swedish government not to get involved in his case. He’s been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Some Hong Kong legislators have dared say the obvious: It doesn’t matter if Hongkongers get new passports, because China still regards you as a citizen. It’s deeply troubling, said one diplomat, that China “deliberately blurs ethnicity and nationality.”

Huawei CEO plays a risky game with her passports

The U.S. government, in its extradition request to Canada, maintained Meng Wanzhou had seven different passports from China and Hong Kong. But Meng’s lawyers argued she had just two, one from China and one from Hong Kong.

However, Meng, whose family owns two mansions in Vancouver, has also obtained permanent resident status in Canada. That gives her and her family the right to free education and healthcare. It is also the final step before citizenship.

Since Meng is treated as a hero in China while she fights the U.S. extradition request in B.C. Supreme Court, how do her country’s leaders deal with the embarrassing reality she and some of her family members have been on the verge of becoming Canadian citizens?

Immigration lawyers maintain China turns a blind eye when Communist party favourites take out multiple passports. And that certainly seems possible in this case, since it is unlikely Meng would ever say goodbye to her Chinese citizenship.

However, now that the spotlight is on Meng, she could do what many other would-be Canadians have recently done: Renounce her permanent resident status in this country. That would make it possible for her to instead join the nine million people who have opted for Canada’s popular 10-year multiple-entry visitor visas.

What is the value of a Canadian passport in Hong Kong?

Meng’s case points to the confusing and crucial differences between a Chinese passport and a Hong Kong passport.

Contrary to what many people think, historians such as Jason Wordie maintain China’s authorities consider a Hong Kong passport, one of which is called a Special Administrative Region passport, mostly a convenient travel document.

So when Canada’s top diplomat in Hong Kong said last week that Ottawa has drawn up plans for a mass evacuation of more than 300,000 Hongkongers who hold Canadian passports, he did not get into the knotty legalities.

Only a fraction of Hong Kong residents identity more with China than Hong Kong. But since China insists on treating Hongkongers as its citizens, it could mean anyone born there who has a Canadian passport would, especially under the recent crackdown, be on the spot to renounce their Chinese citizenship.

If they do so, and especially if they shift to another country, that could lead to them being treated as foreigners in Hong Kong and China, severely shrinking their prospects: Many residents of Hong Kong who have Canadian, British, U.S. or Australian passports often say they remain in China’s booming protectorate because it is far easier to make serious money there.

In the past such people could get around the system by slightly altering either their Chinese or foreign-language names when they applied for extra passports, which made it hard for officials to track how many they had. But China is now perfecting facial-recognition technology to catch those who break the rules.

Contrary to what many people think, historians such as Jason Wordie maintain China’s authorities consider a Hong Kong passport, one of which is called a Special Administrative Region passport, mostly a convenient travel document.

So when Canada’s top diplomat in Hong Kong said last week that Ottawa has drawn up plans for a mass evacuation of more than 300,000 Hongkongers who hold Canadian passports, he did not get into the knotty legalities.

Only a fraction of Hong Kong residents identity more with China than Hong Kong. But since China insists on treating Hongkongers as its citizens, it could mean anyone born there who has a Canadian passport would, especially under the recent crackdown, be on the spot to renounce their Chinese citizenship.

If they do so, and especially if they shift to another country, that could lead to them being treated as foreigners in Hong Kong and China, severely shrinking their prospects: Many residents of Hong Kong who have Canadian, British, U.S. or Australian passports often say they remain in China’s booming protectorate because it is far easier to make serious money there.

In the past such people could get around the system by slightly altering either their Chinese or foreign-language names when they applied for extra passports, which made it hard for officials to track how many they had. But China is now perfecting facial-recognition technology to catch those who break the rules.

In more ways than one it’s becoming tougher to walk the multi-passport tightrope.

Source: Douglas Todd: Second passports can come with big trouble for Chinese citizens

Africa Coming to Terms With a Growing Diaspora’s Dual Citizenship

Of interest:

Earlier this year, Jawar Mohammed, the prominent political activist and media entrepreneur, who had returned home to Ethiopia from the US, looked set to challenge his former ally, prime minister Abiy Ahmed, in the country’s election. But there was immediately uncertainty created over Jawar’s eligibility simply because he had been a US citizen. Ethiopian law does not allow dual nationality and even though he written letters saying he’s renounced his US citizenship that uncertainty remains.

Jawar’s case is one of many that highlights an increasingly common issue for many African countries, who after years of battles with Western imperialism and colonial rule were determined at independence for their citizens to literally pick a side and not be allowed to carry the passports of other countries.

But in the 60 years since independence across the continent, the forces of globalization and transatlantic migration has seen dual nationality come up more frequently as an issue which needs to be addressed across politics and business through to sports.

Back in 1985, Saudi Arabia’s soccer authorities initially refused to hand over the trophy of the Afro-Asian Cup after losing to Cameroon in the finals of the tournament. They claimed Cameroon had fielded an ineligible player who was none other than legendary star Roger Milla, who had traveled to Jeddah on a French passport as he couldn’t also have a Cameroonian one.

Now, Cameroon is considering a revision of its nationality code which was enacted in 1968. The current law stipulates any Cameroonian adult who willfully acquires a foreign nationality automatically loses their Cameroon nationality.

But a new draft bill—a copy of which Quartz Africa has seen—says “a Cameroonian who has acquired another nationality shall retain Cameroon nationality unless it is expressly relinquished by the concerned.” The bill is expected to pass through with little challenge.

Some African governments have been reluctant to legalize dual citizenship, arguing the patriotism of people with dual citizenship could be questioned. But there’s also anecdotal evidence some of these governments are more concerned an influential and economically independent diaspora, able to move freely between countries, could support a challenge to the leadership.

Passport limits

By 2010, a comprehensive study showed that 21 African countries, including DR Congo, Liberia, Algeria and Zimbabwe, prohibited dual citizenship. Meanwhile, 23 others permitted dual citizenship under certain circumstances like if acquired by marriage to a foreign spouse or allowed for citizens from birth only. Other countries did not address the issue of dual citizenship in their laws.

Despite these restrictions it is not unusual among middle class Africans to find people holding dual nationality in countries which don’t allow dual nationality, in part because many countries don’t have comprehensive systems for checking until they vie for office. In 2017, up to two-thirds of the presidential candidates in Somalia’s election held foreign passports while as many as 100 of its 275 legislators also held foreign passports. Eventual winner, now president, Mohamed Farmaajo, also held American citizenship. He had previously worked for the state transportation department in  Buffalo, New York.

Many African countries today have sizable diaspora communities, notably in Europe and North America, with an increasing economic, social and political influence aided by the improvement in communications and travel networks over the last couple of decades.

The World Bank estimates the African diaspora around the world at 30.6 million, but the figure could be even higher when unrecorded African migrants are considered. In 2019, remittance inflow from the African diaspora topped $48 billion. Such remittances in 2010 contributed to 2.6% of the continent’s GDP.

The IMF has estimated the African diaspora save an around $53 billion every year outside of the continent. There is a belief that if it was easier to invest in their countries of origin as dual nationals more of those savings would come to Africa.

Last year, Ethiopia’s parliament passed a bill to allow members of the Ethiopian diaspora, who have taken up nationalities in other countries, to invest, buy shares, and set up lending businesses in the country’s state-dominated financial sector.

Ghana seems to be one of the African countries which has been quick to recognise the potential of its diaspora and the advantage of granting them the possibility to hold dual citizenship. As early as 2000, it passed a law to recognize dual nationality for its citizens. The government of Ghana has since made efforts to attract its Ghanaian origin and other African descendant diaspora to return home, with the Year of Return, Ghana 2019 recording remarkable success.

Practicalities

Many African professionals and businessmen at home and in the diaspora want to pick up foreign passports for very practical reasons—they want to be able to move freely around the globe.

According to the Africa Visa Openness Report 2019, on average, Africans can only travel to 25% of other African countries without a visa. But holders of passports from North America and Europe can travel visa-free to more African countries than Africans.

Henley & Partners, the global citizenship and residency advisory firm which is set to open an office in Lagos, has pointed out that most Nigerians wishing to subscribe to their offerings have no plans to relocate. Instead, they just want to have a passport which makes it easier to travel without the unpredictability of visa applications.

The latest Henley Passport Index shows that two of Africa’s most populated countries, Nigeria and Ethiopia occupy the 97th and 98thpositions respectively on the index. The Nigerian passport offers its holders visa-free travel to just 46 countries mostly in Africa, while the number is 44 for Ethiopia.

Source: Africa Coming to Terms With a Growing Diaspora’s Dual Citizenship

China could keep dual citizenship Canadians from leaving Hong Kong amid protests: lawyer

Legitimate worry:

A Canadian legal activist is warning the federal government to grant asylum to democracy activists in Hong Kong and expanded settlement to those with links to Canada before China prevents them from leaving.

The warning came Monday from Avvy Go, the director of the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, which has already helped bring Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to Canada.

There are 300,000 Canadians of Hong Kong descent in China, and Go says if Ottawa doesn’t act now to accommodate those who want to leave, Beijing will prevent them from leaving in the future.

“The time to act is now. As China continues to crack down on the democracy movement in Hong Kong, it may soon find ways to prohibit Hong Kong activists from leaving that city, period,” Go said Monday at a joint video press conference hosted by Amnesty International.

“Even with those who are Canadian citizens, China may refuse to recognize their dual citizenship status and deny their exit from Hong Kong.”

MPs from the four major Canadian political parties and one independent senator stood in solidarity with the proposals Go put forward at a virtual press conference convened by Amnesty International.

Canada, along with the United States, Britain and Australia, have condemned Beijing’s imposition of a new national security law that they say violates Hong Kong’s freedom from Chinese communist interference.

“This is the Beijing government’s most breathtaking, threatening and callous attack yet … discarding any pretence of fulfilling China’s international promises made when Hong Kong was handed over in 1997,” said Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty’s Canadian branch.

Go called on the federal government to implement several immigration and asylum measures, to help people get out of Hong Kong before it is too late. They are:

— Expediting family sponsorship applications by Canadians with spouses and parents in Hong Kong.

— Expanding family-reunification sponsorship programs beyond parents and spouses.

— Issuing more temporary-resident permits, work visas and student visas.

— Granting refugee status to democracy advocates, and offering them stepped-up resettlement options.

Last year, Hong Kong residents took to the streets in mass protests against a proposed extradition law from Beijing that was eventually abandoned.

During that unrest, Go’s clinic received requests from Canadians of Hong Kong descent whose relatives participated in pro-democracy protests, she said.

Since Beijing announced the new security law, the clinic is getting calls from Canadians who are worried about their families even though they may not have been involved with the democracy movement, said Go.

“These are our people. And as parliamentarians dedicated to promoting and protecting democracy, we cannot stand by silently. I endorse all of the actions,” said Independent Sen. Marilou McPhedran.

McPhedran said she has travelled across Africa and seen the effect of China’s massive development spending, an influence-buying effort that many analysts say is a power play by Beijing’s ruling communist party.

“The weaponization of economic support is something that we need to understand better as we look at what is happening in Hong Kong,” said McPhedran.

“The violation of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which is the essence of what China is saying it is going to do, is in fact a precursor to threats to democracies in many other countries as well.”

Conservative MP Kenny Chiu, who was born in Hong Kong, said the people of his homeland respect human rights and the rule of law, and they are prepared to commemorate Thursday’s anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre that saw the Chinese army kill scores of pro-democracy student protesters in 1989.

“We’re witnessing in Hong Kong basic dictatorship in disguise, exerting its power out of fear for these values,” said Chiu.

Source: China could keep dual citizenship Canadians from leaving Hong Kong amid protests: lawyer

COVID-19: Thousands of Canadians getting US$1,200 cheques simply because they’re still U.S. citizens

Including, presumably Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Green leader Elizabeth May:

Thousands of people in Canada can expect a letter shortly from the U.S. Treasury Department.

However, you’re (probably) not in trouble. In fact, you’re most likely receiving a US$1,200 cheque thanks to America’s stimulus package.

One of the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic put in place by the U.S. government was Economic Impact Payments. Through it, most current American citizens who filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 will automatically be sent US$1,200 ($1,680) as long they make less than US$75,000 if they are single or US$150,000 if married.

And that includes U.S. citizens in Canada. Unlike Canadian benefit programs put in place during the pandemic, the U.S. program doesn’t require beneficiaries to live in their own country.

“The reason being that the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world that tax based on citizenship. So a U.S. citizen, wherever they live in the world, is always subject to U.S. tax, which is different than Canada,” said Mark Feigenbaum, an Ontario-based attorney and accountant specialized in cross-border taxes.

But that doesn’t mean his Canadian clients aren’t surprised when the money suddenly arrives in their mailboxes.

“I get a couple of pictures of cheques every day from clients,” he said. “First of all, they weren’t maybe even aware that they were supposed to get a cheque, and secondly, that they were even qualified for a cheque. And then they got a bunch of money.”

According to Statistics Canada 2016 census data, 284,870 people in Canada declared having U.S. citizenship.

One of them is Charles Lewis, a dual U.S. and Canadian citizen who received a cheque in the mail last week.

“I read three weeks ago that the payment was coming to those who file so when it did come I was not surprised at all. It came in an envelope from the U.S. Treasury Department. Soon as I looked at the envelope I knew what it was. I had to laugh that Trump’s name was on the cheque, given it’s not his money,” Lewis told the National Post.

“I think those who get it and were not really in need should donate it to charity, which is what I’m going to do. It’s really found money. I did nothing to earn it. Though filling out all those tax forms every year was a pain in the ass.”

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the agency that administers the Economic Impact Payment program, nearly 750,000 stimulus cheques have gone out to “foreign addresses,” totalling $1.2 billion.

But the IRS can’t say how many of those went to people in Canada.

“Foreign addresses doesn’t necessarily imply non-Americans. Members of the military and U.S. citizens who live or work abroad would be in that category, along with non-citizens who may have, for tax purposes, U.S. resident alien status,” spokesman Eric Smith said via email.

“The domestic numbers likely also include resident aliens, and Canadians are likely in both the domestic and foreign categories,” Smith said.

A large number of U.S. citizens living in Canada are also interested in finding out how they can get their hands on an American stimulus cheque.

According to Steve Nardi, chair of Democrats Abroad Canada, a workshop his group hosted a few weeks ago about the American stimulus package attracted 600 people, 80 per cent of whom were from Canada.

“In the last two weeks, I’ve had another thousand people on tax filing webinars, and most of them are interested in at least accessing the information about the stimulus cheques,” Nardi said in an interview.

He said he’s mainly encountered two groups of recipients: those who knew from the very start that they’d receive a cheque, and those who were stunned (and sometimes concerned) when the money arrived at their door.

“I had emails from members asking if they were eligible, and the only thing that happened at that point was the Senate approved the (stimulus) bill late the night before. It hadn’t even gotten across the building to the House yet,” he recounted.

“And then we’ve had others who were completely shocked that they would be eligible with no expectation.”

But be warned, if you’re an American in Canada who’s eligible to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) because you lost your job due to COVID-19, you may want to think twice before cashing that US$1,200 cheque.

To be eligible to receive CERB payments, you have to have made less than $1,000 in the period during which you’re applying. Depending on if the Canada Revenue Agency determines that stimulus money from the American government is revenue or not, depositing that cheque from the U.S. may make you ineligible for CERB.

Employment and Social Development Canada was not able to provide a comment.

Source: COVID-19: Thousands of Canadians getting US$1,200 cheques simply because they’re still U.S. citizens