Nationality decisions not 'low level'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2001, 12:00am

To suggest, as one of your readers does in the letter headlined 'Low-level officials make crucial decisions' (South China Morning Post, June 9), that 'rule by man' prevails is to ignore the laws of Hong Kong.

Article 18 of and Annex III to the Basic Law provide that the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China applies in the Hong Kong SAR.

The Nationality Law is implemented in Hong Kong by the Immigration Ordinance, Cap. 115, Schedule 1, which says 'Chinese citizen' means a person of Chinese nationality under the Nationality Law as interpreted in accordance with the 'Explanations of Some Questions by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress', adopted in 1996.

The 'Explanations' do not define Chinese descent - which is understood in its literal sense, namely blood relationship and blood lineage.

Whether a Hong Kong resident is of Chinese descent will therefore depend on many factors, including parentage, relatives, use of a Chinese name since birth and blood relationship with a parent whose ancestral home was on the mainland. Each case is determined on its individual merits on the basis of information provided by the person claiming to be of Chinese blood, Chinese descent or Chinese race.

Contrary to what your reader alleges, these determinations are not left to the 'individual whims of low-level public servants' but are made by experienced immigration officers and endorsed by senior immigration officers.

The concept of Chinese descent or Chinese blood is not new. In the repealed Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, a Hong Kong permanent resident was defined as being, among other things, a person wholly or partly of Chinese race.


for Director of Immigration