Tue, Jun 12, 2012 - Page 8 News List


Is Jeremy Lin Taiwanese?

Is basketball star Jeremy Lin (林書豪) a Republic of China (ROC) national? The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) says yes, but what are the views of other government departments? (“Jeremy Lin is legally an ROC national: official,” June 7, page 1)

This discussion brings to mind the situation of children with one foreign parent. Before 2000, children born to mixed-nationality parents could only claim ROC nationality if the father had an ROC ID card. An ROC mother could not transmit her nationality to her child. On Feb. 9, 2000, the Nationality Law (國籍法) was revised to make male and female parents equal in this regard. The law gave a 20-year retroactive provision so that children born to ROC mothers who had not reached the age of 20 by Feb. 9, 2000, could also obtain ROC nationality.

A mixed-nationality couple (Taiwanese mother and US father) of my acquaintance had a son who was 17 years old in 2000, studying in a local school, and who was carrying an Alien Resident Certificate which identified him as a US citizen. At that time, the parents were applying for a scholarship from an organization in the US, and needed to prove that the child only had “single nationality.” They applied to the ministry for such a determination. However the ministry sent them an official letter which stated that their child had automatically obtained ROC nationality due to the legal changes of Feb. 9, 2000.

Doubting the legality of the ministry’s determination, the parents decided to have their son’s nationality status updated with the educational authorities, the local tax department, the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI), and the Bureau of Entry and Exit (BEE). They wrote full explanations and included the official letter from the ministry saying that their son now had ROC nationality.

However, the replies from the education and finance ministries, the BEE and the BNHI all denied their requests. The officials from these agencies all stated that it was necessary to produce documentary evidence of ROC nationality (minimally: an ID card) to be granted “local citizen” status to enrol in a Taiwanese school, enter or leave the country, claim the “local” withholding rate for taxes, enrol in the National Health Insurance program as a Taiwanese, and so on.

In the case of Lin, I strongly doubt that other government departments agree with the interior ministry’s proclamation that he is “automatically” an ROC national. Hence, I would argue the ministry’s determination is ridiculous.

Certainly, no one would argue that by going to driving school six times and passing all the written, oral and on-road tests a person “is now legally qualified to drive a car.” It is necessary to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, take the test there and obtain the relevant certification.

There is a difference between “meeting the qualifications” and “obtaining the certification.” MOI officials fail to understand this. I feel confident that the majority of government departments would not agree with the interior ministry’s determination that Lin has ROC nationality.

Would the MOI care to make a response?

Name withheld

Make points politely

If one said to Georg Woodman (Letters, June 5, page 8): “Although you are a pompous ass, you make many salient and inarguable points,” my guess is the compliment at the end would be overshadowed by the insult at the beginning. Taiwanese and maybe most people would feel this way about such a statement.

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