China’s Ministry of Public Security posted this appeal on its website: members of the public with knowledge of family residence registration (hukou) violations should report their tips to the public security bureau. This includes persons who have acquired foreign nationality but failed to cancel their hukou.
Under the Nationality Law, article 9, “Any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who voluntarily has either naturalized or otherwise gained foreign nationality shall automatically forfeit Chinese nationality.” China does not recognize dual nationality for its citizens.
Under 1959 regulations, when a citizen moves out of the jurisdiction of his or her household registration, the citizen should cancel the hukou. It follows that persons who have automatically forfeited Chinese nationality by settling abroad and voluntarily taking foriegn nationality should do so.
I was interviewed by Ya Wei of Voice of America for an article regarding the Ministry of Public Security’s July 15th whistleblower initiative and why some persons who have forfeited Chinese nationality may be reluctant to cancel their hukou.
The Ministry’s apparent goal is to uncover “naked officials,” meaning corrupt officials who together with their family members have obtained foreign citizenship and hidden their assets overseas. But that’s only a small percentage of Chinese who have voluntarily taken foreign nationality.
For most, the time, expense, and hassle of applying for a Chinese visa is one reason for reluctance to cancel their hukou. Also, with no hukou, buying real estate, seeking a job, investing, and starting companies are restricted. Access to social insurance benefits may also be limited.
But a Ministry official told China Daily that persons who have failed to cancel their hukou may be subject to departure restrictions if discovered. That could put some bite into the Ministry’s new initiative.