Canada says Hong Kong enforcing single nationality

HONG KONG: Canada, Britain and the United States have expressed alarm after Ottawa revealed authorities in Hong Kong pressured a twin citizen to decide on one nationality, enforcing what they mentioned was a little-used regulation for the primary time in many years.

Canada’s international affairs division mentioned on Tuesday (Feb 2) {that a} dual-national in jail in Hong Kong was required to make a declaration of nationality on Jan 18.

“We are aware of more such incidences involving dual nationals of other countries,” a Global Affairs Canada spokesperson informed AFP.

The revelation has despatched diplomats scrambling for extra information given the potential implications for lots of of hundreds of twin nationals dwelling in Hong Kong – and those that journey there for enterprise and tourism.

Under Chinese legislation, twin nationality just isn’t legally recognised in Hong Kong and authorities might refuse to grant consular entry to those that retain Hong Kong or Chinese passports.

READ: China will not recognise British passport for Hong Kong residents from Jan 31

Beijing has said it will no longer recognise British National (Overseas) passports

Beijing has mentioned it’s going to now not recognise British National (Overseas) passports. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

But diplomats say the laws have been by no means enforced and that, till now, officers confronted few issues accessing twin nationals in custody.

That seems to have modified as Beijing clashes with Western nations over its crackdown in Hong Kong following 2019’s enormous and infrequently violent protests.

A US official, talking on situation of anonymity, informed AFP they have been additionally conscious of extra examples than the single case Canada went public with.


In response to enquiries, a State Department spokesman mentioned Washington had “deep concerns that this new Hong Kong policy will compel people to declare their citizenship under duress and without an opportunity to understand the full implications of the declaration”.

The spokesperson mentioned their diplomats would proceed to hunt entry “to any US citizen arrested in Hong Kong, regardless of their categorisation by the Hong Kong government”.

A spokesperson for the British consulate mentioned the UK was “seeking answers from the Hong Kong authorities following the suggestion that they may withdraw our consular access to dual national prisoners and prevent us providing the support we have given since 1997” when London handed management of the previous colony again to China.

READ: UK says it is upholding ‘freedom and autonomy’ with new Hong Kong visas

Beijing has increasingly clashed with Western nations over its crackdown in Hong Kong following

Beijing has more and more clashed with Western nations over its crackdown in Hong Kong following 2019’s protests. (Photo: AFP/Isaac Lawrence)

Hong Kong’s Correctional Services Department declined to touch upon whether or not it had begun demanding individuals in jail select a single nationality or had restricted consular entry.

The metropolis’s Security Bureau cited China’s nationality legal guidelines to clarify why consular visits may be rejected.

While residents are allowed to have multiple passport, these of Chinese descent are thought-about Chinese nationals inside Chinese territories, which incorporates Hong Kong, the bureau mentioned.

It didn’t handle why the laws have been solely being enforced now.

The new coverage seems to place Hong Kong extra carefully consistent with mainland China, the place authorities forbid twin citizenship.


Hong Kong is among the world’s main worldwide finance hubs, constructed on a popularity for business-friendly insurance policies.

There are an estimated 300,000 Canadian, 100,000 Australian and 85,000 American passport holders within the metropolis alone.

Many of these are twin nationals with Hong Kong passports.

Richard Kurland, a Canadian immigration lawyer, mentioned the coverage change had profound implications.

“The change in policy is tangible, has immediate effect, and affects hundreds of thousands of people,” he informed AFP.

Official statistics present about 7,000 individuals have been in custody on the finish of 2019 with about 20 per cent categorised as foreigners.

READ: Nearly 11,000 Hong Kongers moved to Taiwan in 2020

One prominent dual-national prisoner is media mogul Jimmy Lai, who faces prosecution under a

One outstanding dual-national prisoner is media mogul Jimmy Lai, who faces prosecution underneath a nationwide safety legislation Beijing imposed on Hong Kong. (Photo: AFP/Isaac Lawrence)

One outstanding dual-national prisoner is media mogul Jimmy Lai, who faces prosecution underneath a brand new nationwide safety legislation Beijing imposed on the town.

Lai has each a UK passport and Hong Kong everlasting residency.

It just isn’t clear whether or not British officers have been capable of contact him – the consulate doesn’t touch upon particular person instances for privateness causes.

A former dual-national prisoner who accomplished a jail time period some two years in the past mentioned he was allowed to fulfill consular representatives on a number of events.

“No one ever said I can’t have both (nationalities),” the ex-inmate mentioned, asking for anonymity.

The adjustments to how Hong Kong authorities deal with twin nationality comes amid a diplomatic row between China and Britain centred on nationality.

Late final month, the UK started providing prolonged visas to holders of British National (Overseas) passports, which all Hong Kongers born earlier than the 1997 handover are entitled to.

Beijing responded by asserting it will now not recognise the passports.

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