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LCQ19: Application for naturalisation as a Chinese national
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     Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (May 22):

Question:

     According to Article 18 of and Annex III to the Basic Law, the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China (CNL) shall be applied in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) from July 1, 1997.  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 (Explanations) have been endorsed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the Government of HKSAR is authorised to designate its Immigration Department (ImmD) to handle applications related to Chinese nationality in HKSAR in accordance with CNL and the Explanations.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that in handling applications for naturalisation as Chinese nationals, ImmD will consider factors including "whether the applicant has sufficient knowledge of the Chinese language", how the authorities conduct assessments in this regard, and whether the assessments include appraising the applicants' proficiency in four aspects, namely listening, speaking, reading and writing;

(b) given that in handling applications for naturalisation, certain countries require the applicants to be familiar with the situation of the countries to which they apply for naturalisation and even assess the applicants' knowledge of the history, background and origin, etc. of these countries by way of examination, whether the authorities have plans to implement similar measures to ensure that people who are granted approval for naturalisation as Chinese nationals have certain understanding of China; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether the authorities have any policy to encourage people who wish to be or who have been naturalised as Chinese nationals to learn about the situation of the country, so as to facilitate their early integration into society?

Reply:

President,

     The reply is as follows:

(a) Pursuant to Article 7 of the Chinese Nationality Law (CNL), foreign nationals or stateless persons who are willing to abide by China's Constitution and laws and who meet one of the following conditions may be naturalised upon approval of their applications íV

(1) they are near relatives of Chinese nationals;
(2) they have settled in China; or
(3) they have other legitimate reasons.

     Article 8 of the CNL stipulates that any person who applies for naturalisation as a Chinese national shall acquire Chinese nationality upon approval of his application; a person whose application for naturalisation as a Chinese national has been approved shall not retain foreign nationality.

     The Immigration Department (ImmD) will consider each application for naturalisation as a Chinese national on its own merits and will in general give consideration to the following factors:

? 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/herself and his/her 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 the naturalisation application is approved; and
? whether there are other legitimate reasons to support the application.

     Each application for naturalisation as a Chinese national will be handled on its individual merits.  ImmD will consider the naturalisation applications in accordance with Articles 7 and 8 of CNL and the aforementioned factors on a fair and appropriate basis.  In assessing the applicant's knowledge of the Chinese language, ImmD will in general consider whether the applicant is capable of communicating with others in Chinese in daily life.  However, it has to be pointed out that the knowledge of the Chinese language is only one of the factors to be considered.  This does not imply that applicants who do not know Chinese will be refused, nor will those who know Chinese necessarily be eligible for naturalisation as Chinese nationals.

(b) Each application for naturalisation as a Chinese national will be handled on its individual merits.  ImmD will consider naturalisation applications in accordance with Articles 7 and 8 of CNL and the factors as stated in answer (a) to fully assess the applicant's relation with Hong Kong, whether he/she can integrate into the community, etc.  At this stage, we have no plan to institute examinations similar to those used by some foreign countries in handling naturalisation applications.

(c) The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is committed to encouraging integration of the ethnic minorities (EMs) into the community while preserving their cultural characteristics.  Various government departments have been providing a range of services to meet the needs of EMs, including educational support, career counselling and social welfare, etc, to help them adapt to the lives in Hong Kong and integrate into the society as soon as possible.  For example, the Home Affairs Department provides tailor-made learning classes, counselling and integration programmes via five support service centres, two sub-centres for EMs and other programmes with a view to facilitating their integration into the community.  Furthermore, government departments also support organising cultural and arts activities of EMs, carnivals, etc through various channels to promote integration of different ethnic groups.

     On education, the Government is committed to supporting the integration of non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students, notably ethnic minority students, into the community, including facilitating their adaptation to the local education system and mastery of the Chinese language.  Measures to be implemented in the 2013/14 school year include refinement to the Summer Bridging Programme for NCS students progressing to Primary 1 to Primary 4 to enable NCS parents to accompany their children during the Programme with a view to supporting NCS students' learning of Chinese through parent-school collaboration; and planning the launch of an incentive grant scheme aimed to enhance the professional competencies of Chinese language teachers in teaching NCS students, etc.  Besides, in light of comments of the stakeholders and views of the Special Needs Groups Task Force of the Commission on Poverty, the Education Bureau plans to revise the funding mode for schools admitting NCS students with a view to widening NCS parents' school choices, enhancing the effectiveness of NCS students' learning of Chinese and removing the labelling of the so-called "designated schools".

Ends/Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:37

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