Dual-nationality scheme considered

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 12:00am

Beijing is considering recognising dual nationality in a bid to attract overseas talent and investors, according to a senior official.

Vice-Minister of Science and Technology Liu Yanhua raised the idea on Tuesday, the New Express newspaper reported.

'Following the steps of India, China is considering recognising dual nationality ... to remove the obstacles in [attracting individuals to] make investments or be employed on the mainland,' Mr Liu said.

The Indian system, which permits some overseas Indians to keep their Indian citizenship while obtaining a foreign one, has proved attractive in luring home overseas Indian talent.

More than 70 countries recognise dual nationality, but China forbids it under its nationality law. Any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who has acquired foreign nationality automatically loses Chinese nationality.

The question of dual nationality has been much debated on the mainland. A recent online survey conducted by the North Chinese Community of Canada showed that 92 per cent of Chinese immigrants wanted China to allow dual nationality.

Mr Liu is the first senior official to come out in support of the idea.

Yu Min , a Chinese immigrant in Canada, said dual nationality would be convenient. Mr Yu said he had not applied for Canadian citizenship because he often returned to China on business, but his wife and son had.

If Mr Yu wanted to bring his family back to China, his son and wife would face restrictions going to school or landing a job, the Shenzhen Evening News reported. Nearly 300,000 Chinese have immigrated to Canada since the 1990s.

Those who lose Chinese nationality can also be excluded from some key science and technology projects on the mainland.

In a bid to attract overseas talent, the Ministry of Public Security launched a 'green card' system in August to grant permanent residence for foreign nationals, but few have met the strict criteria required.

Although the change was widely seen as opening the door for a dual-nationality system, Yao Xiuzhi , from the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, said last week it was too early to introduce the system to China.