TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Taiwanese tourist has been stripped of his household registration (hukou, 戶口) and passport after he was reported for having a temporary Chinese passport, which his travel agency had helped him apply for during a trip to Russia, reported UDN.
Last week, a Taiwanese tourist rushed into the the Taichung City Qingshui District Household Registration Office livid after having been notified that he had been stripped of his Taiwan hukou for receiving a China passport. The man, surnamed Yen (顏), said that he was one of 20 Taiwanese who after trip to Vladivostok, Russia in early October unwittingly, "returned as Chinese citizens."
When Yen requested to have his residence restored and inquired whether he could still go abroad on trips with his Taiwanese passport, he was notified that his passport had also been revoked. Staff at the household registration office contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on his behalf, but they did not provide an official response on the reason why his passport had been cancelled, though sources in the travel industry say he may soon face charges. It is not known whether the other members of the tour have suffered the same punishment as Yen.
Currently, when Taiwanese want to travel Russia, they need to pay more than NT$3,000 (US$99) in fees, obtain an invitation letter from a hotel, and pay another NT$2,000 to NT$3,000 in courier fees. However, those who hold a Chinese passport enjoy visa-free access to Russia.
Taiwanese travel agencies have found the loophole is that they can obtain a temporary Chinese passport for their customers. While some agencies tell their clients in advance that they are applying for short-term Chinese passports, other unscrupulous companies lie to their customers and say that they are applying for "single-entry Russian visas."
Although dual nationality is theoretically allowed in Taiwan, according to Article 9-1 of the Cross-Strait People's Relations Act, Taiwanese citizens are not allowed to register a hukou in China or receive a Chinese passport, unless authorities have provided an exemption for a special situation. Those who violate this law will lose their rights as a Taiwanese citizen, including voting in elections, the ability to serve in the military or government, and rights that are associated with a hukou. However, they would still be subject to the duties and obligations of Taiwanese citizens, such as paying taxes.
In an interview with UDN, Yen said that his tour group first went to Changchun in China's Jilin Province, before heading to the Hunchun City Public Security Bureau to process their documents to travel to neighboring Russia. He said he had no idea that everyone in the group would end up with Chinese passports, which were only valid for three months.
On the passports a remark was written stating "A valid entry-exit visa for the travel team. Exit and entry point: Hunchun." The date of issue was the day before their arrival in Changchun.
According to official Chinese regulations, only citizens of China can obtain Chinese passports. In order to save some money on a trip to Russia, these Taiwanese travelers received Chinese passports, making them Chinese nationals.
As mainland authorities never notify Taiwan when Taiwanese citizens obtain Chinese passports, it is hard for the government to know exactly how many Taiwanese hold passports of both Taiwan and China.