2/19/2012

Jeremy Lin Offered Taiwan Citizenship? How Does That Work?

I was just reading in the Taipei Times (Sunday, February 19) the American basketball phenom Jeremy Lin (point guard for the New York Knicks) has been offered citizenship by authorities responsible for this sort of thing in Taiwan: 

"'Both of Jeremy Lin's parents were born in Taiwan and hold dual citizenship of the Republic of China (ROC) and the US,' [Lin's uncle] said. 'Jeremy Lin was born in California and has US citizenship in the ROC as well as well [as] by the Ministry of Foreign affairs,' [Lin's uncle] said."

The usual problems will occur for Lin should he accept. For example, all Taiwanese men as well as any who take out citizenship (and are under 35) have to do military service. But there is something a lot more interesting about this above assertion, at least to me. You see, if you apply for Taiwanese citizenship, you have to renounce your current citizenship. Of course, once you have gained Taiwanese citizenship, you are then free to apply for citizenships of other countries, including the one you have recently renounced. 

Here's the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson James Chang: "We have checked with the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The government has never received an application from Jeremy Lin for ROC citizenship."

No kidding they haven't. Jeremy Lin is packing a US passport. If they had received an application, he wouldn't be. 

"'Even though Jeremy Lin has US citizenship, he is eligible for ROC citizenship because both of his parents retain ROC citizenship and because Taiwan allows dual citizenship,' [Chang said]."

I really doubt however Lin will give up his US citizenship to apply for a Taiwan passport. After all, that would really complicate things for him to play basketball and go about living in his own country. Or will they change the rules just for this American because he looks like Taiwanese people?  

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm aware, because his parents are Taiwanese citizens, he wouldn't be required to renounce his US citizenship. He'd get it based on ancestry. It wouldn't require any rule changes.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"He'd get it based on ancestry. It wouldn't require any rule changes."

I was guessing it would come down to some sort of nonsense like that. I was being ironic.

Patrick Cowsill said...

BTW, I was informed on Facebook that the PRC is interested in Lin playing for him, but has made it clear he will have to relinquish his American citizenship in order to do so. In other words, no hypocrisy here.

I was poking around on the Internet. There is pretty good article on it here, running over how Jeremy Lin playing for China could be sticky: a) He's outspoken about his faith, and perhaps that won't gone down that well in a supposedly Communist country b) Every time he plays, there are tons of Taiwanese flags waving in the crowd:

http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/knicks-star-jeremy-lin-rules-social-media-ignored-by-china-broadcaster.php

Anonymous said...

So true. He's an American happened to look like a Taiwanese. If he were born and educated in Taiwan. He wouldn't have a chance to be as good as he is right now. It's sad but true. Everybody fights for his identity after his big success.

I am a Taiwanese. I feel shame of our education system and environment. There are so many brilliant kids like Jeremy are ruined in our education system.

Patrick Cowsill said...

OK: Here we go:

"Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) Basketball star Jeremy Lin has Taiwanese citizenship because his parents were both Taiwanese citizens at the time of Lin’s birth, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday.

This automatically makes Lin a Taiwan citizen and there is no need for him to apply for citizenship, said Thomas Chen, director-general" etc.

I wonder if Lin will be arrested the next time he shows up in Taiwan, then, for draft dodging.

Patrick Cowsill said...

China and Taiwan are debating who Jeremy Lin belongs to: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/16/china-and-taiwan-vie-for-a-piece-of-jeremy-lin/

Of course, both countries would want him for the Olympics. The US has already filled its Olympic roster, but if Lin keeps playing like this, he could conceivably get a spot on his real country's squad. Imagine the firestorm that would set off in Asia.

Anonymous said...

Moreover...

The way Chinese nationalisms in both the ROC and PRC have been articulated, "Chinese" are bound in a racial nation by "a common history, common language, common culture..."

Much of this articulation revolves around state definitions of high culture revolving around a mixture of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist traditions codified as "Chinese" during the 1930s. The common language is rooted in a writing system using Chinese characters. The common history is constructed from selective readings of imperial dominion.

Jeremy Lin as a non-Chinese speaking American-born Christian, is hardly the poster child for the idea of a shared Chineseness.

Of course, that is where the 19th century construct of "race" comes in handy.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Jeremy Lin as a non-Chinese speaking American-born Christian, is hardly the poster child for the idea of a shared Chineseness.

Of course, that is where the 19th century construct of "race" comes in handy."

Well put. I agree completely.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Lin will be arrested the next time he shows up in Taiwan, then, for draft dodging.

You must spend more than a certain amount of time continuously in Taiwan to be eligible for the draft. As long as you don't go over that, the draft doesn't apply. Plenty of draft-age men avoid it by flying to/from HK every 60 days. It's a perfectly legal method of avoiding the draft.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"As long as you don't go over that, the draft doesn't apply. Plenty of draft-age men avoid it by flying to/from HK every 60 days."

I thought it was every four months. Anyway, I know people have found a way to skirt around the regulations.

I was being hyperbolic. Will the government turn a blind eye here in jumping on the bandwagon? Will people pretend they don't notice the government doing it and excuse the hypocrisy of a government that doesn't treat all of its "citizens" the same?

Or will the people pretend to not notice if the government does decide to get tough and realize it can do nothing, because Jeremy Lin is not Taiwanese.

Anonymous said...

The dual citizenship issue is THE one issue that infuriates me to no end.

How can a guy who was not born in and has never lived in Taiwan automatically get citizenship?

What about the other westerners that have lived here for 20+ years, married with children, speak the lingo and yet, still can't get citizenship. Completely not fair.

Yes, I realize it is a loophole in the US policy (where you do not have to renounce your citizenship ~ which I think is primarily for Israelis).

This kind of ties in with the new "No Visa" policy Taiwan is trying to get with the USA. How about some damn reciprocity? Why is it that visitors here only get 30 day landing permits? HK has had 90 landing permits for as long as I can remember (20+ years) and they are not even in the USA sphere on influence. Taiwan is suppose to be a friend, yet screws anyone not Taiwanese on the visa issue.

And just like the Taiwanese kids that flee to HK every 60-120 days to skip out on the draft, others here fly to HK as well for visa issues. This highly jacks up the tourism numbers.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"What about the other westerners that have lived here for 20+ years, married with children, speak the lingo and yet, still can't get citizenship. Completely not fair."

I agree. Yet it has been pointed out that my own offspring is automatically given citizenship even though she does not live in the US. She gets this because only one of her parents is American.

There is a lot to complain about on both sides.

Taiwanzo said...

You're the ignorant prick, Patrick. Many European countries have a similar system of granting citizenship to their countrymen's ancestors, blood is thicker than water, Patrick. You cleary live in a parallel universe, mate. Cry racism, where common sense apply, is purely racist. You hate Taiwan - Fuck off! We don't need you ockers coming here telling us how we should run our matters. Fuck of back to Darwin or Batavia or from whatever sewer you crawled out.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Unfortunately, a better part of the world does live in deplorable conditions. Statistics suggest one billion children across the globe live in poverty now. That's truly tragic. If indeed I have crawled out of a sewer, this is not something to celebrate, even if it helps you to sound cool on a comment section of blog in the cyberspace.

Save your pseudo-new age parallel universe horse shit regurgitation for the Star Wars' conventions and other geek b.s. you indulge in.

Where on my blog does it say: "Geek Twerps Please Attend and Give Their Stupid 2 Cents Worth?" Indeed, I've never called for that.

I have just decided to donate a buck US for every ignorant word you have made on my blog to Oxfam, for those that don't have any choice but to live in sewers, you ignoramus.

James said...

I don't think the point here is whether he is eleigible for citizenship. That's not in dispute.

I, for example, am eligible for Swiss citizenship in the way the foul-mouthed oik Taiwanzo has indicated.

As with Patrick, my kids are eligible (and have) citizenship of the country of my birth.

The point is, though, you generally don't just 'have' citizenship without some kind of procedure.

In the UK you don't actually have to register the birth of the child but provide the parent's full-version birth certificates (which most citizens don't actually have, or even know about, and which you have to send away for) and het a passport and that is enough to get them citizenship.

In Taiwan, the birth must be rgeistered as far as I am aware and procedures gone through before the person is a de facto citizen rather than simply 'eligible'.

The statement that ancestry 'automatically makes Lin a Taiwan citizen and there is no need for him to apply for citizenship' is, therefore, misleading at best. He may not have to 'apply for citizenship' as such but he almost certainly would have to go through some procedure.

If he has a passport and his parents have already been through the process, and this is enough to qualify him, then fine. but that is not what the ministry was implying. It was giving the impression that anyone of Taiwanese descent can just walk into the country and be a citizen without any paperwork - clearly spurious.

The government statements were blatantly trying to reinforce the notion that he is a Taiwanese national, first and foremost, which is just not true.

Patrick's tongue-in-cheek call for him to do military service is just to ironically point out that he obviously doesn't have to - not because he doesn't reside here for more than half a year at a time but because he is not really a national and has barely been here at all!

My and Patrick's children are de facto and de jure Taiwanese nationals. Even after I make this clear to people, it doesn't stop well-meaning but blinkered folk continually going on about how 標準 my boys' Mandarin is.

In the same way, it's inconceivable to so many that Lin can't speak decent Mandarin. Why, because they have these set ideas in their head and don't know how to compute freaks that don't fit their pigeonholes.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"In the same way, it's inconceivable to so many that Lin can't speak decent Mandarin. Why, because they have these set ideas in their head and don't know how to compute freaks that don't fit their pigeonholes."

Yes.

If blood is thicker than water, why does Lin act like an American? Well, I'd say because he is an American. What is Taiwanese about him? His Christianity, which he is proud of? His lack of Chinese or Taiwanese language skills? Where he was born or educated, grew up, etc.?

I doubt you'll have any takers on this blog, new age, making a case for "he is not American but Taiwanese" based on blood. That is in fact racist.

If I hated Taiwan, I would not have a blog: Patrick Cowsill Wanhua Taiwan. I wouldn't write about the culture here or our history here. I would simply look to opt out and keep my mouth shut, which I will not.

James said...

Further to those who are missing the point about just having citizenship as a result of ancestry, I would refer you to this, the third from last comment on ozsoapbox's blog:

"mm, i no longer have family living here, but as a rule, if one of my parents is still registered here, then us kids can apply for a taiwan passport as well. but i have to stay in the country for a year without leaving in order to gain citizenship. haha ABCs are quite lucky in that aspect. but many ABCs don’t actually know that there’s this option since most ABCs parents no longer have registration here anyway(most of them discontinued their citizenship after moving to the US/CAN/OZ)."

That from an ABC.

So my educated (in the sense of informed) hunch that some procedure would be necessary was correct. In fact, it would take even more than just an application (which is itself more than just ipso facto 'having' it.

I therefore put it to Thomas Chen and Taiwanzo that they are talking out of their derrieres.

Patrick Cowsill said...

If this is correct, James, there is still plenty to find fault with in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' spokesperson James Chang's statement. It's not incorrect in this light, just a half-truth:

"'Even though Jeremy Lin has US citizenship, he is eligible for ROC citizenship because both of his parents retain ROC citizenship and because Taiwan allows dual citizenship,' [Chang said]."

It seems he should have expanded to explain that Jeremy Lin must stay in Taiwan for a year and still have a parent registered here to gain citizenship.

Let's hope the ministry is not scrambling around to rewrite the rules because that means it would be giving preferential treatment to individuals deemed "special." That would most certainly fly in the face of a democratic concept and be unfair to the rest of us.

Nice work. It'll be interesting to see how your comment and quote sits with ockers on this blog who continue to give Taiwan a black eye with their knee-jerk intolerance, see Taiwanzo (Taibei Tony? - comment #12: http://patrick-cowsill.blogspot.com/2011/07/report-from-british-consul-in-formosa.html).

Patrick Cowsill said...

You see the similarity with Taibei Tony and Taiwanzo? Inane comments that don't add squat to the conversation, a fascination with excrement and fairly fluent English nevertheless?

Remind me to post up on the carpetbaggers who descended on Taiwan following the Second World War II. They came to Taiwan with nothing, but still looked down on the locals. Instead of doing anything for this country, appreciating the people and culture(s) they found, they just set about filling their suitcases with money, which was probably immorally come by, before moving on to Western countries. Some of them, elderly in age, even return from time to time for a financial refill. Instead of feeling ashamed, their descendants continue to "ock" from afar, chirping on like they have something to contribute here.

Anonymous said...

Just to add my two cents to this long dead conversation...

The last time I was at the immigration office, I was told that even if your parents were Taiwan nationals at the time of your birth and you were entitled to citizenship, it was necessary to return to your "native" country to apply for the passport and file the paperwork. At that point, it would be possible to return to Taiwan using your Taiwanese passport and again, apply for a Taiwan ID card.

This said, this process hardly coincides with the government's "you just have it" implications.

In fact, just a few years ago the law stated that any person born to Taiwanese parents but over the age of 22 was no longer entitled to citizenship based on ancestry.

To me it seems that the question of Taiwanese Identity is rapidly evolving. It is true that some countries in Europe allow 'ancestral citizenship' seeking, so in this way Taiwan's new laws don't seem totally out of place. However, it seems there are still a lot of loopholes.

For example, there is now a 6-year residency law requiring anyone with parents who were Taiwan nationals at the time of their birth be resident outside of Taiwan for the past 6 years to be considered "foreign" in the eyes of the MOE. This obviously runs into trouble with foreign-born Taiwanese who do not possess a Taiwanese passport or ID, but whose parents were nationals at the time of their birth (regardless of whether they are now) if they happened to be working in Taiwan for the last few years.

The only catch with the residency requirement is that you must also sign a form that renounces your Taiwanese citizenship. This seems absolutely ridiculous for people like Lin, or other foreign born Taiwanese, who never formally accepted their citizenship. So where does that leave us? What exactly is the law regarding citizenship? How could it possibly be enforced? And probably more pertinently, what is the government leaving out now?

It seems like the definition changes daily, from person to person, office to office, and city to city.

It therefore doesn't surprise me that yet again different Taiwanese offices tout differing lines of "truth" (shades of truth, always leaving out a key aspect) regarding Lin's status. Still, it would be nice to see a bit more transparency, if only to encourage more people to engage with Taiwan.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Just to add my two cents to this long dead conversation..."

Conversation is still up and going. It just died down a bit with J. Lin being injured and people saying Linsanity is finished. I expect more on the conversation when he visits this summer.

Thanks for the informative feedback.

yage said...

I have at least a limited amount of knowledge with regards to these laws. My wife and I are living in Taiwan for this exact reason. The rules are many and complex, the main ones are:

If you are below a certain age (I think 22), your parents are Taiwanese, they can still (for lack of a better term) "register your birth", ie making you a taiwanese citizen no matter where you really live.

Above age 22, you have to live here for a fixed period and your "birth can be registered", again no renouncement of citizenship required.

Where it gets tricky, is I vaguely remember reading that the rules can be waived for special reasons, but its been a year since I looked this stuff up and it wasn't useful to me so I can't remember the details.

yage said...

It is also worth mentioning that the rules and age limits do change reasonably regularly. Because of this I have encountered people that argue they know a particular rule when they dont.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"It is also worth mentioning that the rules and age limits do change reasonably regularly."

Obviously. And the rules are pretty vague. My big worry is changing the rules to suit a superstar (if indeed this is going to happen -- there was momentum for it). That isn't fair to the rest of the people. If it happens, then there won't be equality and that is not democratic.

Anonymous said...

The assertion that Jeremy Lin has to give up his US Citizenship is incorrect. The Taiwanese government now officially recognizes dual citizenship. The only time you would need to give up foreign citizenship is if you were running for a public office.

Jeremy Lin can claim Taiwanese citizenship if either of the parents holds Taiwanese citizenship.

Lin will not be called for the draft to the Taiwanese military as long as he does not stay continuously for more than 120 day without exiting the country. This is a provision for someone classified as "Overseas Chinese (or Taiwanese if you prefer".

Of course, he can enter into Taiwan with an US passport to avoid military draft. However, he will have not access to Taiwanese social services such as health care ... etc. etc. Only way to access Taiwanese social services is to enter Taiwan with a Taiwanese passport.

Steve said...

Thanks for your commentary, Patrick. I myself am an American of Taiwanese ancestry looking to apply for Taiwanese citizenship, and it bothers me that Jeremy Lin appears to be eligible for special treatment due to his celebrity status. I think (or hope) that the statement that he is automatically a citizen is just false and misleading propaganda to reinforce his "Taiwanese-ness". As some of you have pointed out, culturally he is not very Taiwanese, and it seems very unfair that I, who have spent years studying Mandarin, and also speak Taiwanese at home, would have to jump through more bureaucratic hurdles than Lin, an American, who just happens to look Taiwanese.

Another side effect of the insistence of Lin being Taiwanese is it marginalizes his "American-ness". Americans already have a tough enough time accepting the fact that Asians (and other races) are "truly American". Loudly broadcasting the fact that he's a Taiwanese citizen does nothing to reverse this deep-rooted misconception. I personally always insist that I am an American of Taiwanese heritage, which is different from just simply "Taiwanese", but it seems that most Americans outside of the most multicultural cities won't understand what that means.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"As some of you have pointed out, culturally he is not very Taiwanese, and it seems very unfair that I, who have spent years studying Mandarin, and also speak Taiwanese at home, would have to jump through more bureaucratic hurdles than Lin, an American, who just happens to look Taiwanese."

I don't speak Taiwanese at home, but I do speak Mandarin. It is also unfair to me. Unfortunately, I probably (undoubtedly) won't even get the same consideration as you, based on my skin color.

pesicolacat said...

Taiwan isn't communist. It's not part of China even though China would disagree.