Bridges Ethnic Media Digest
By Pueng Vongs,
China recently requested that foreign governments require their citizens who were born in Taiwan to declare their place of birth as "China" on passports, a move that has riled Taiwanese Americans and enflamed the China-Taiwan reunification debate.
China has informed countries such as Canada that Canadian citizens who were born in Taiwan should declare their place of birth as "China," according to a report from Taiwan's Central News Agency. Although Canada is not enforcing this request, China has warned countries that fail to comply that it will curtail future visa applications to China.
Taiwanese groups in Canada are pressuring the Canadian government to refuse to honor China's request and to apologize to Canadian Taiwanese citizens.
China has previously issued similar stipulations regarding Tibetan residents in foreign countries. For U.S. citizens who are Tibetan immigrants, a compromise was reached -- they can use the Tibetan cities in which they were born as their place of birth on passports.
Prior to 1994, the United States required Taiwanese immigrants to use "China" as their place of birth. As the result of intense lobbying by Taiwanese American groups, Congress passed a law that gives naturalized Taiwanese American citizens the choice to write either China or Taiwan as their place of birth.
China has yet to ask the United States to abide by the request, although the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong has contacted China regarding this issue. An official from the Department of State commented that any change requested by China would require the approval of Congress. Such a change could affect high-profile naturalized citizens originally from Taiwan, such as U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.