The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday promised to help a new university graduate who wants to serve in the military but is unable to do so because he holds dual nationality.
The man, surnamed Shih (施), who graduated from National Taiwan University earlier this year, has passed all phases of the testing process to enroll in a volunteer reserve officer training program but his application has been stalled because of the nationality issue, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) told a press conference.
Unlike the compulsory national service system in which all Republic of China (ROC) males living in Taiwan are required to serve even if they have dual nationality, those who wish to pursue a professional military career cannot hold a passport from another country.
Born in Bolivia, Shih holds both Bolivian and ROC nationality. He came to Taiwan at the age of three and has never returned to Bolivia, Tsai said.
In 2008, Shih went to study in the US, traveling on his ROC passport, the legislator said.
Shih was recently instructed by the Ministry of National Defense to give up his Bolivian nationality by March 28 to be eligible to serve in accordance with the Nationality Act (國籍法), or face having his qualifications to enroll in the training program revoked, Tsai said.
However, the Bolivian government has said there is “no need” for Shih to give up his Bolivian citizenship because the country accepts dual citizenship. It has therefore refused to issue a verification document of Shih’s relinquishment of his Bolivian nationality, Tsai said.
Bai Chieh-lung (白捷隆), a human resources official at the Ministry of National Defense, said the military carries out its responsibilities in accordance with the law and that the law is clear that Shih must file evidence proving he has relinquished his Bolivian nationality.
Chen Shou-han (陳首翰), a MOFA legal official, said that Shih’s relinquishment of his Bolivian nationality could not be validated based only on unilateral recognition by Taiwan.
Chen added that the MOFA would instruct its representatives in Bolivia to gain an understanding of that country’s laws and seek ways to help Shih give up his Bolivian nationality.