The Cabinet yesterday approved an amendment to the Name Act (姓名條例) to relax rules on the registration of names and name changes.
If the legislature passes the amendment, foreigners could use a phonetic transcription of his or her name in their original language as a full Chinese name without having to take a Chinese surname when they become a naturalized citizen of the Republic of China (ROC), the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement.
As examples, a foreigner whose name is “James” could use “Chan Mu Shih (詹姆士)” as his full name in Mandarin, or a woman named Catherine could use “Kai Sa Lin” (凱薩琳) as her full Chinese name, the ministry said.
As it now stands, the Name Act requires a foreign national or a stateless person becoming a naturalized ROC citizen to have a Chinese name and register that name along with their original romanized foreign name.
A new rule was introduced that in a case of a naturalized citizen taking a Chinese name containing a surname, the surname must precede the given name in line with the traditional order of a Chinese name.
The amendment also suggests that the policy adopted in 1995 of allowing Aborigines to Romanize their tribal names phonetically as their official names registered in household registration offices rather than using a Chinese family name and given name be extended to “other minority people.”
One of the accepted reasons under the existing law for a person to apply for an alteration of his or her surname and given name — if that person was becoing a monk or a nun or when a religious person was returning to a secular life — would be applied to any type of religion if the amendment passes the legislature.
The amendment includes a new rule to allow naturalized citizens to apply for an alternation of their Chinese name if they choose a name that contains a vulgar or an unrefined meaning because of their unfamiliarity with the language, but such a change may be granted only once, the ministry said.
Likewise, for Aborigines and minority people, if a person resumes their traditional tribal name, they may apply for the resumption of their original Chinese name — again on a one-time basis.