Around 300,000 dual citizens may have to choose between Canada and China after policy change

Local | 28 Jan 2021 7:10 pm

Authorities in Canada are growing increasingly concerned about the rights of 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, after the territory’s government declared that dual citizens may have to choose the nationality they wish to maintain, foreign media reports.

“Canada is aware of the Hong Kong government’s decision to require dual nationals to declare the nationality they wish to legally maintain while in Hong Kong,” said spokesperson John Babcock.

“At this moment, we understand that this policy predominantly affects dual nationals serving prison sentences in Hong Kong. Canada has expressed its concern to the Hong Kong government about the possible loss of consular access that this change implies.”

China doesn’t recognize dual nationals under its Nationality Law but Hongkongers are exempted from it given Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two System”.

If those having dual citizneship were required to choose one side to retain their Canadian citizenship, it may affect their right of abode in Hong Kong, which allows people to live and work in the territory without restrictions. 

“This is another important development potentially because it looks as if China is now applying its citizenship law to Hong Kong and forcing people to declare who they are,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador in Beijing. “It is something that will have to be watched.”

He pointed out that the Vienna Convention on consular relations stipulates that if you enter a country using one nation’s travel documents, you cannot claim citizenship of another country.

If dual citizens entered the territory using a Hong Kong or Chinese passport, it may affect their claim on Canadian citizenship, he said.

Canada’s Global Affairs spokesperson Babcock said Canada’s consular general in Hong Kong is seeking additional information from local authorities about the potential impact of this latest change.

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