The Global Times “top news” section ran a story on June 27 asking whether foreigners are “devils or angels.” The story identifies a number of “angels” who have been rewarded with Chinese citizenship, but interestingly can’t point to one in the last 50 years.
I won’t recount the story’s vignettes of expats in China behaving badly (e.g., a New Zealand teacher threw a child in a pool) and well (e.g., an American sharing his french fries with a Nanjing beggar).
I won’t delve into whether this is really “top news” or whether suggesting that expats may be devils is a good way to project China’s soft power.
Nor will I linger on the headline’s spelling:
Rather, I’d like to focus on a section of the story dealing with foreigners who have been granted Chinese citizenship. The story quotes from the Nationality Law of China and includes a list of prominent foreigners granted. The funny thing is that none of these foreigners were granted citizenship after the law was enacted in 1980.
The list focuses on individuals granted Chinese citizenship during the 1950s and ’60s for their contributions to the CCP’s revolutionary cause.
In contrast, by 1980 China had initiated its economic reform and modernization program, which shaped the Nationality Law enacted that year. The law was designed to mobilize overseas Chinese, wooing them back to the Mainland to contribute to the economy. During the same period, the PRC promulgated Regulations on Encouraging Overseas Chinese, Hong Kong, and Macau Compatriots to Invest in the Mainland. During the 1980s, investment by overseas Chinese from these regions amounted to 70% of foreign investment in China.
I’d like to see a list of prominent foreigners granted citizenship after 1980.
Thanks to Malcolm Moore, Shanghai correspondent for the Telegraph, who spotted and tweeted this Global Times story before it was pulled from the paper’s website. You can still find this story in Google’s cache.