Date
8 December 2016
A Taiwanese student surnamed Lee finally had her ID card changed; her nationality is now listed "stateless".  Photo: Taipei Times
A Taiwanese student surnamed Lee finally had her ID card changed; her nationality is now listed "stateless". Photo: Taipei Times

Taiwan student rails against ‘Chinese’ ID change

“Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.”

This proverb may well apply to the case of a Taiwanese exchange student in Iceland, who wanted to have the nationality on her residency permit changed.

The country’s immigration officials eventually granted her request, but the result was far from what she ever thought.

Her nationality was changed from “Chinese” to “Stateless”, Taipei Times reports.

“Having ‘Chinese’ written on my ID card made me uncomfortable, because I identify with Taiwan as my country of citizenship,” the 23-year-old student surnamed Lee wrote on “Taiwanese in Europe” Facebook group.

Lee, who is studying at the Reykjavik University’s School of Law, said she used to carry her passport to avoid using the permit.

She also sent several emails to Iceland’s immigration officials, telling them of her wish to have the nationality on her permit changed.

She explained to them the difference between Taiwan, known as Republic of China, and China, which is officially called People’s Republic of China.

But still she got no reply.

It was only when she applied in person for a work permit that she finally started receiving responses to her request.

“The woman at the window looked at me apologetically and said she was surprised that there would be this kind of problem, but her supervisor had said that because Taiwan was not a recognized country, there was nothing he could do,” Lee said.

Persistent, Lee contacted different government bureaus and the Taipei Representative Office in Denmark to seek help on her problem.

Then she finally received a new ID card, which listed her nationality as “stateless”.

“At that moment, I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or cry,” Lee said.

She said even her place of birth on the card was changed from “Kaohsiung” to “Taiwan”.

“This probably barely counts as half of a success, because ‘stateless’ at least shows that they acknowledge my statement that Taiwan isn’t Chinese territory,” she said.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RA/CG

EJI Weekly Newsletter