Nationality Conflict Overview

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The Dilemma

According to China's Nationality Law, a child born in mainland China is automatically a Chinese citizen if one or both parents are Chinese. In the event that one of the child's parents is a foreigner, the child may automatically become a citizen of another country as well. Because China's Nationality Law does not recognize dual citizenship, the child enters into a state of nationality conflict.

US Parent / Chinese Parent Example

If a child is born to a US citizen and a Chinese citizen he is automatically born into a state of nationality conflict. As a result, his parents will not be able to apply for and obtain a Chinese VISA for the child after obtaining a US passport for the child. The reason for this is that China will only acknowledge the child's Chinese citizenship and ignore any other nationalities/passports. If China was to grant the child a Chinese VISA, it would be the same as acknowledging dual citizenship because they would be recognizing the child's other passport/nationality. Therefore, the child enters into a state of nationality conflict where China sees only one nationality whereas most other countries will recognize both.

Alternative Example

An alternative to this situation would be if the parents first applied for a Chinese hukou and subsequently a Chinese passport because they would rather their child be a Chinese citizen than a US citizen. The problem occurs when the parents decide to take a trip back to the US. The US would then recognize the child as a US citizen and will not allow the parents to apply for a US VISA suggesting instead to apply for a US Passport. If the parents go ahead and apply for the US passport, they enter into an illegal situation where China is forced to recognize dual citizenship since the child now has both a US and Chinese passport. The child can now travel between the two countries freely, but may face litigation in the event that China discovers that the child has both passports. Issues can also arise concerning education when the parents attempt to have their child admitted into an international school since their child is holding a Chinese hukou.

Resolving the Dilemma

There are currently three possibilities:

  1. Remain in a state of nationality conflict (easy)
  2. Cancel Chinese citizenship (difficult)
  3. Apply for hukou/Chinese passport before applying for a US Passport as in alt. example above (difficult and illegal from China's perspective)

1. Remaining in a State of Nationality Conflict

One solution is to remain in a state of nationality conflict and apply for a US passport like in the first example above. Then, when the family decides to travel outside of China, they apply for an Entry-Exit Permit(中华人民共和国出入境通行证) as explained here. This a single use, one time pass good for up to three months, which enables the child to leave and re-enter China. Additionally while abroad, the family can apply for a travel pass at a Chinese consulate

2. Canceling Chinese Citizenship

3. Applying for Hukou and Chinese Passport before US Passport