Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Correspondence with a Friend in Montreal about Dual Canadian and Chinese Citizenship

Yes that is right about the 1997 Canada-China Consular agreement. Basically the implication is that if a person born in China submits a Canadian passport with an application for a visa to enter China and gets the Chinese entry visa, then the Chinese Government has recognized this person as a Canadian. But quite a few Chinese-born Canadians enter China on Chinese passports with their acquired Canadian passport in their pocket. This way they need not apply for any visa and can retain their urban residency status (hukou) in China. When such people get in trouble with the Chinese police while in China they typically produce their Canadian documents and ask that the Canadian Embassy be contacted to provide them with consular assistance. Often this works despite the 1997 agreement. You may recall the case of Zhang Kunlun who had been a visiting scholar at McGill, stayed in Canada after 1989. and returned to China in 1996 using his Chinese passport. He later got imprisoned on the basis of being an unrepentant Falun Gong practitioner. In that case Canada successfully intervened and Mr. Zhang was eventually allowed to return to Canada. An interesting variation is senior Chinese Government officials who present public purposes Chinese passports to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing because they are part of official Chinese delegations to Canada. When they are checked the Embassy finds that a small number of these visa applicants are in fact Canadian citizens (citizenship usually acquired after a period of study in a Canadian university). Canadian citizens of course do not require visas to enter Canada so this presents a bit of a problem for us. But I believe the Immigration Section of the Canadian Embassy to China tends in these cases to simply stamp a visa into the Chinese passport anyway. To my knowledge these Chinese officials holding Canadian passports have deomonstrated no loyalty to Canada whatsoever.

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