British football star achieves Taiwan dual citizenship

Tim Chow now has dual UK-Taiwan citizenship and will play for Taiwan at 2019 Asia Cup

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – British professional soccer player, Tim Chow (周定洋), has obtained Taiwanese citizenship, while being given the extremely rare privilege of not having to renounce his UK passport, as he prepares to join the Taiwanese football team for Asia Cup matches.

On Oct. 31, Chow, a 23-year-old soccer player of Taiwanese descent, successfully received his Taiwanese passport after going through an intricate process of application to enable him to retain his British passport at the same time. He is now waiting to be registered as Taiwanese athlete in the Asian Football Confederation to complete the process and play for Taiwan at the 2019 Asia Cup.

Chow is a midfielder for Ross County football club with and is of Chinese descent. His grandfather was originally from Shanghai, China but moved to Taiwan in the 1940s and later emigrated to Great Britain.

In an interview with the Central News Agency, Chow said the process for him to obtain Taiwanese passport was not easy and that he needed to submit not only his birth certificate, but also those of his father and grandfather, as well as other personal documents to the Ministry of the Interior.

He expressed a positive opinion about the future of Taiwan football after the Taiwan team won over Mongolia in a friendly match and Bahrain in a qualifying game for the 2019 Asian Cup on Oct. 10.

Chow is expected to represent the Taiwan national team in its next match with Turkmenistan in Asia Cup.

Generally speaking, most foreign nationals are required by law to relinquish the citizenship of their birth before their Taiwanese citizenship has been approved, which in the past led to many people becoming stateless before receiving approval, or remaining so if their approval was denied. An amendment passed late last year gives foreign nationals a one year grace period to relinquish their original citizenship before their Taiwanese citizenship is finalized.

Since December 21 of last year, the Taiwanese government amended the Nationality Act to enable high-level professionals from the domains of technology, economy, education, arts and culture, sports, religion, democracy and human rights to apply for a Taiwanese passport without having to give up their own original nationality. However, in the 11 months since that policy went into effect, the overwhelming majority of recipients have been elderly Christian missionaries who have lived in Taiwan for 50 years or more, vexing many younger foreigners. 

In the case of Chow, because he could prove Taiwanese ancestry, it was easier for him to receive Taiwanese citizenship. The process was also rapidly expedited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enable him to compete for the national team in its next major match.