Canadian Chinese father loses bid to help son acquire Hong Kong passport

Judge calls argument by family’s lawyers, based on interpretation by NPC in 1996, a ‘misreading’ and ‘misunderstanding’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 January, 2017, 9:25am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 January, 2017, 9:26am

A Canadian Chinese father failed in his legal bid to help his son acquire a Hong Kong passport without having to renounce his Canadian citizenship – despite the duo having gone out of their way to argue that they were “Hong Kong Chinese compatriots”.

On Wednesday, the High Court ruled against Hudson Timothy George Loh and his father Timothy Loh, who had challenged the immigration director and the Passports Appeal Board’s decision to turn down the younger Loh’s application for a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport.

The request by Hudson Loh, born in Canada to his two Canadian-born parents, was rejected on the grounds that he was not a Chinese national.

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The boy was born in 2003 in Canada when his mother sought shelter there amid the Sars outbreak in Hong Kong. He returned later that year to the city, which his parents had mostly called home since the mid-1990s, the High Court heard.

To obtain a Hong Kong passport, an applicant is required to be a Chinese citizen as well as a Hong Kong resident. And Chinese law states that in order to be considered a Chinese national, a person born outside China must have at least one parent who is a Chinese national. Neither of Hudson’s parents meet that requirement.

But Loh’s lawyers argued that Hudson, aged 11 at the time of the court hearing, fit the description of a “Hong Kong Chinese compatriot” in an interpretation handed down by the National People’s Congress in 1996.

The relevant paragraph stated: “All Hong Kong Chinese compatriots are Chinese nationals, whether or not they are holders of the ‘British Dependent Territories Citizens passport’ or ‘British Nationals (Overseas) passport’.”

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In his judgment, Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming wrote that the Lohs’ argument based on their view of the interpretation was a “misreading” and “misunderstanding”.

He said the paragraph cited by the duo’s lawyers dealt only with the status of Hong Kong Chinese compatriots who were holders of the two passports mentioned.

“[It was] not to create a further class of Chinese nationals,” Chow wrote.

Chow noted however that the son could apply for a passport if he became a naturalised Chinese citizen.

The judge ordered the Lohs to pay 85 per cent of the government’s fees.