Discrimination in Taiwan’s citizenship laws

I recently found out that Taiwan has a blatantly unfair law regarding the naturalization of foreigners.

If you are a foreign national wishing to get Taiwanese citizenship, you have to give up your former national allegiance – this in itself, I can understand (national pride and solidarity and all that), BUT “natural” Taiwanese (those born here) are allowed to hold dual citizenship.  Double standard anyone?

This is a brazenly prejudiced stance to take.  Why do foreign nationals have to give up their former citizenship, while Taiwanese nationals are allowed to hold dual citizenship?  You can’t apply the law differently to people, and still consider it a fair law!  So while “natural” Taiwanese are granted the democratic freedom to hold dual citizenship, foreigners are treated akin to the people of China, Iraq and North Korea –  not being allowed to hold 2 passports.  And what about those who have Taiwanese spouses and children?  Those who, for all practical purposes, are permanently based in Taiwan?

I guess one could argue that if they want to stay in Taiwan permanently, people shouldn’t have problems giving up another nationality, but I think it’s unfair to ask that of anyone because many expats have very close emotional attachments to their respective countries.  Just because life circumstances change ones place of residence, it doesn’t mean that all connection and attachments to ones former country must be severed.

Beside, other nations have no problems granting dual citizenship, so in the spirit of reciprocity it seems fair for Taiwan to offer the same. Does Taiwan really want to be seen as being discriminatory toward these foreign nationals?

Either ban dual citizenship for all, or allow it for all.  It would seem to me that if Taiwan wants greater recognition as a democratic and free society, these kinds of laws should be repealed or changed.

Another consequence of this law (as it happened to 2 individuals) is that it can leave one stateless (as in having no citizenship).  Just recently, 2 Pakstani men renounced their former citizenship only to find out that Taiwan refused them naturalization.  They had gone through the process here and went back to Pakistan to relinquish their Pakistani passports, but upon returning to Taiwan, were denied Taiwanese citizenship for factors that were no fault of theirs.  So now, they weren’t Taiwanese or Pakistani – they were technically free agents belonging to neither country.  As a result,  one of them was unable to go back to Pakistan to attend his father’s funeral or take care of his sick mother.

This incident led to a Taiwanese legislator pushing for amendments to the law, to get rid of this double standard.  While this will make the law more fair, I found another iffy amendment concerning dual citizenships.

Taiwanese civil servants are not allowed to have dual citizenship.  Again, solidarity, security, sensitive information and all – fine.  The law states that anyone found having dual citizenship would be fired.  According to this article, recent amendments changed the punishment to include firing AND requiring the individual to pay back all the monies they recived in wages.

I have to wonder why this is even necessary.  Wouldn’t a dual citizenship come out in the original background check before one got the job?  And if the stipulation for keeping the job is only having a Taiwanese nationality, then a rational person would quit before he or she went for dual citizenship…right?

Anyway, unless the person has been deceitful (in which case, I concur with the law), the government has no right to take away their past wages.  If the person provided all the information accurately, and the government overlooked or missed information, it’s no fault of the person involved.  Fire them – iffy, but ok.  Take away their wages for services already provided?  Totally totalitarian!

As if that wasn’t enough, the article goes on to stipulate that these amendments remove a clause that states:

“individuals diagnosed with mental disease by doctors should not be hired for
public positions,”

to protect the rights of those with mental disorders.

I’m all for protecting rights of people, but according to this, it seems like Taiwan would rather have a paranoid schizophrenic civil servant than a sane one who holds dual citizenship.  Really Taiwan?  You’ve got to be kidding me!

I was quite surprised when I discovered all of this.  I really hope that Taiwan changes some of these ridiculous laws, not just for my sake, but for the many foreign nationals who have decided to make this beautiful island home.

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3 Responses to “Discrimination in Taiwan’s citizenship laws”


  1. 1 Anonymous March 28, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I do agree with you 100% and I think it is about time for them to review this law and make it more fair, there is no justification whatsoever to be doubled slandered in an issue like this.

  2. 2 nico May 16, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Taiwan is full of discrimination to foreigner anyway, this is not surprising the government follows the same path.
    For to ask for a loan in a bank, subsribe a cell phone or get a credit card in a bank. They do not even let you apply, they simply say “we do not do it for foreigners” even so the law states they should receive your application.

    • 3 islandsidechronicles May 16, 2013 at 2:06 am

      While I do agree there is an amount of discrimination in Taiwan, I’m not so sure about the cell phone or credit card. I know several foreigners (newcomers) who have cell phones and credit cards. I’m pretty sure with an ARC you can get a cellphone contract in your name. In terms of credit cards, Bank of Taiwan and Chinatrust (the only 2 I have dealt with) both offer a sort of debit/credit card. It’s your regular bank card that also functions as a credit card for upto the amount you have in your bank account.
      Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting.


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