There is a lot of confusion in our community about who is and who is not eligible for a Hong Kong passport, and how to get one if you are not eligible. Unfortunately, readers of an item in last Wednesday's Public Eye column are not going to be any wiser and may, indeed, be more muddled than before. The Hong Kong passport states that the nationality of the holder is Chinese. Most people born in our city are Chinese nationals ab initio . Those who hold another nationality, whether born here or elsewhere, can apply for Chinese nationality under the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China. Section 7 provides three possible routes for non-Chinese to acquire Chinese nationality. They are: close relative (not defined) of a Chinese national; long-term (not defined) resident of China (not defined, but clearly including Hong Kong); other relevant circumstances. In theory, only one strand needs to be established, but in practice the Immigration Department looks for as much evidence as possible under all three. As it happens, when I applied in 2001 I qualified under all three routes, but I am aware of people with no Chinese relatives - including people of Indian origin - whose applications have been successful. The procedure is simple. There is an explanatory booklet and an application form readily available from the Immigration Department. Both are fully bilingual and the form can be completed in either of Hong Kong's official languages. If the case is reasonably strong, a letter will be issued stating that the application will be approved (note the lack of equivocation) but that the applicant must now produce evidence that he or she has renounced their existing nationality. Upon submission of the required evidence, the applicant will receive a Certificate of Naturalisation. Even though it is issued under a mainland law, the certificate is bilingual if issued in Hong Kong. One country, two systems - remember! Armed with this certificate, the holder must apply for an amended identity card (it will have the magic three stars, irrespective of the holder's ethnicity) and may apply for a local passport. I have never heard of a passport application being rejected in such cases. Incidentally, holders of the three-star identity card can then get their Home Return permit from the China Travel Services office. Why then do we get incidents like the one recently highlighted? Simple. Invariably the people concerned jumped straight to the final stage of the process and applied for a Hong Kong passport. When they don't get one, they complain of unfairness. The grounds they quote in support of their grievance (born in Hong Kong, long-term resident, speak the language better than Rowse and so on) are relevant for the purposes of application for Chinese nationality but not relevant to the application for a passport itself. My advice for those concerned? Stop whining, get the correct information booklet and application form. Fill in the latter properly and be willing to give up your present nationality when the time comes. While we are on the subject, we sometimes hear complaints from athletes, or their parents, who wish to represent Hong Kong at the Olympics or other events of high status. Then you will get remarks like "why should I be forced to sacrifice my nationality and passport" to represent the place I live in? My answer to them? If you think giving up your passport is a sacrifice, and you are not proud to become Chinese, then we don't want you. Mike Rowse is the search director of Stanton Chase International and an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.