Yiwu: Population, 1.2 million. Naturalized citizens, 0.

Statistic of the day: The city of Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, has a population of 1.2 million, but 0 naturalized citizens.

Here’s a screenshot from the city’s website:

Yiwu Naturalization
China’s Nationality Law, as succinctly summarized in the above screenshot, is not onerous on its face. More transparency in how the law is implemented by the Ministry of Public Security would be nice.

But arguably the key ingredient that’s missing is that China, like the majority of developing countries (53%), has no policy to integrate non-nationals into society, according to the UN. In contrast, nearly all developed countries (91%) do have integration policies.

But with all the talk about attracting international talent to China, the lack of a policy on integration may prove a hindrance. Why come if China can’t become their home?

There’s nothing “cultural” about the low rate of naturalization. The World Values Survey, a global research project, shows that in comparison to other countries, Chinese don’t have extreme views about whether ancestry (39.3%), birth (38.4%), culture (44.1%), or obedience to the law (78.2%) is “very important” to be considered for citizenship.

I’d like to see a list of prominent foreigners granted naturalization. And, no, this list of foreigners granted citizenship due to their support for the CCP’s revolutionary cause in the 1950s and ’60s doesn’t count. It pre-dates enactment of the Nationality Law in 1980.

6 Replies to “Yiwu: Population, 1.2 million. Naturalized citizens, 0.”

  1. This is interesting. Supposedly those with permanent residence in China have some sort of preference or priority in applying for citizenship. Were it not or the fact that you must renounce your current citizenship to obtain Chinese nationality, I’d apply just to see how it results.

    1. Fred: Great point. Foreign nationals may apply to Hong Kong’s Immigration Department for PRC nationality. Preference is given to those who, like entertainment entrepreneur Allan Zeman, already have the right of abode in HK, habitually reside there, and intend to continue to reside there. HK’s Immigration Department says they received 1274 applications for PRC naturalization in 2012. (http://www.gov.hk/en/residents/immigration/chinese/nationality.htm)

      An HK resident with PRC nationalilty who wants to work on the Mainland must apply for a work permit from the labor bureau (with some exceptions) and a residence permit from the pubic security bureau.

      1. You’re missing something. Not so easy. While they get Chinese citizenship, unless they are of Chinese descent they have no automatic right to enter Mainland.

        HK Chinese must have either a type of visa or a return home permit to enter Mainland. It is impossible to get a return home permit unless you have Chinese ancestry on Mainland.

        Zeman would need permission to enter Mainland, a work permit and then a residence permit. Presumably it would not be difficult given the fact that he would already have employment lined up, otherwise he would be like many others who would arrive as tourists and scout for work first.

          1. He’s lucky. There are other cases where applications are not approved. That he had been doing business on the Mainland 30 years ago likely played in his favor.

            He still would need a residence permit for long stays and likely a work permit.

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