Following is a question by the Hon Ma Lik and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, in the Legislative Council today (May 18):
Regarding the processing of applications for naturalisation as Chinese, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of such applications submitted to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government each year since the establishment of HKSAR and the percentage of successful applications; among them, of the respective numbers of non-Chinese persons who submitted and succeeded in their applications as well as the top four nationalities (including stateless) to which these non-Chinese applicants originally belonged;
(b) how the number of successful cases approved by the HKSAR Government each year compares to those approved by the Mainland authorities; and
(c) given that the authorities have to process applications for naturalisation as Chinese on an individual basis and to take into account certain factors in making a decision, of the legal grounds for such discretionary practice, including the factors to be considered, and the differences between the Hong Kong authorities and the Mainland authorities in processing similar applications?
(a) Between July 1, 1997 and April 30, 2005, the Immigration Department (ImmD) received 4,372 applications for naturalisation as Chinese nationals and completed the processing of 3,999 applications. Of the latter, 3,786 applications, or 95%, were approved. Statistics on applications for naturalisation received and approved each year are set out at the Annex.
As ImmD does not distinguish naturalisation applicants on the basis of whether they are of Chinese descent, statistics on the number and percentage of such applicants are not available. In terms of nationality, of the 4,372 naturalisation applications received, the largest single category of applicants were Indonesians (1,735), followed by Pakistanis (833), Indians (552) and Vietnamese (547). It is believed that the bulk of the approved applicants had also been of these four nationalities before their naturalisation as Chinese.
(b) ImmD does not have statistics on approved naturalisation applications processed by the Mainland authorities.
(c) Pursuant to Article 18 and Annex III of the Basic Law, the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China shall be applied in the HKSAR from July 1, 1997. Furthermore, according to the Explanations of some questions by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress concerning the implementation of the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region adopted at the 19th meeting of the Standing Committee at the 8th National People's Congress on May 15, 1996 (the Explanations), the HKSAR Government is authorised to designate the ImmD as the authority responsible for receiving and handling nationality applications and related matters. The Chinese Nationality (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Cap. 540) provides for matters relating to the operation in the HKSAR of the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China.
ImmD handles naturalisation applications in accordance with the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China and the Explanations. Each naturalisation application will normally be considered having regard to whether the applicant has a near relative who is a Chinese national having the right of abode in Hong Kong; whether the applicant has the right of abode in Hong Kong; whether the applicant's habitual residence is in Hong Kong; whether the principal members of the applicant's family (spouse and minor children) are in Hong Kong; whether the applicant has a reasonable income to support himself and his family; whether the applicant has paid taxes in accordance with the law; whether the applicant is of good character and sound mind; whether the applicant has sufficient knowledge of the Chinese language; whether the applicant intends to continue to live in Hong Kong in case his naturalisation application is approved; and whether there are other legitimate reasons to support his application. ImmD takes into account all relevant factors in deciding whether to approve an application.
As ImmD does not have information on how the Mainland authorities handle similar applications, we are unable to make a comparison of the differences (if any) between how the Hong Kong authorities and the Mainland authorities process such applications.
Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2005