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Nicholas Tse told CCTV that he is in the process of renouncing his Canadian citizenship. Photo: @chefnicookies

Hong Kong star Nicholas Tse is giving up Canadian citizenship amid Chinese crackdown on entertainment industry

  • Dual citizenship is banned in China, making it a topic of interest for ethnically Chinese celebrities of foreign nationality
  • China launched a campaign to crack down this summer on the behaviour of celebrities
Phoebe Zhang

Hong Kong actor and singer Nicholas Tse is applying to give up his Canadian citizenship amid rising concerns that holding dual citizenship may be viewed as unpatriotic by the mainland Chinese audience.

Over the weekend, Tse, who was in the wildly successful Chinese action movie Raging Fire , told the CCTV programme Perception Room that he is in the process of renouncing his Canadian citizenship.

“Whether it’s food, music or action films, I have the willingness and responsibility to spread Chinese culture to the whole world,” he said.

Nicholas Tse is a famous actor and notable singer/songwriter. Photo: Weibo

Tse said an online comment about Raging Fire “made his heart skip a beat” because it asked if he was Canadian: “I wondered, why would they say that?”

Tse’s father, Patrick Tse, and Tse’s manager, Mani Fok, told the Oriental Daily that they would respect his personal decision.

Tse was born in Hong Kong in 1980. His father was a famous actor at the time, as was his mother, Deborah Lee. He moved to Vancouver at a young age and moved back to Hong Kong with his family later.

His time in Canada allowed him to become a Hong Kong and Canadian dual citizenship holder. Mainland Chinese citizens cannot become dual citizens, so they must renounce a foreign citizenship if they hope to become a Chinese citizen, or renounce their Chinese citizenship if they would like to obtain a non-Chinese nationality.

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Hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers hold dual citizenship, but Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in February that the city would “strictly enforce” laws that do not recognise dual citizenship.

Although there is no official ban on Chinese stars with foreign passports on the mainland, the Chinese public occasionally criticises celebrities of foreign nationalities. Some stars have dropped foreign citizenship for a Chinese one to boost their career.

In July, US-born Arthur Chen Feiyu, the son of famous director Chen Kaige, swapped his American citizenship for a Chinese one, his studio said on Weibo.

Earlier this year, Beijing banned mentions of director Chloe Zhao’s Oscar wins. She was born in China and has spent a significant portion of her life in Britain and the US. She made comments critical of China in 2013, prompting people to question her nationality when Nomadland turned her into a household name after winning three Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards.


Hong Kong star Nicholas Tse to renounce Canadian citizenship amid China crackdown on its celebrities

Hong Kong star Nicholas Tse to renounce Canadian citizenship amid China crackdown on its celebrities

Liu Yifei, the China-born star of Disney’s Mulan, received criticism for giving up her Chinese citizenship.

Other top names who have changed their passports include Gong Li and Jet Li, now Singaporean, and director Chen Kaige, who is a US citizen.

No explanation as billionaire actress Zhao Wei scrubbed from Chinese internet

Tse’s announcement and declaration of national spirit came amid a sweeping crackdown on the entertainment industry by the Chinese government.

Over the summer, several policies and online censorship targeted celebrities who had behaved poorly. The stars had been accused of crimes ranging from rape, tax evasion or behaviour and speech that hurt “public order and morals”.

Vicky Zhao Wei was removed from the Chinese internet in August for unknown reasons. Photo: Wanlimu

Kris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian singer, was detained by the Chinese police on August 16 after multiple women accused him of rape. He has been thoroughly censored on the Chinese internet.

Last month, billionaire actress Vicki Zhao Wei appeared to have been blacklisted by the government after her entire internet presence was scrubbed without explanation.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: HK star Nicholas Tse to give up his Canadian passport