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One-child policy for mixed couples
I always assumed that if we wanted two children in China, it should be no problem because I am not Chinese, even though my wife is. Till recently this was indeed mostly true, because you could just apply for the nationality of one of the parents for the baby and then renounce the Chinese nationality (from within China). You would then get an Exit permit and with that you could come back to China and apply for a residence permit, based on close relationship with the Chinese parent. This has changed, in such a way that foreigners living in China will have more problems getting a second child as well!

I first received news about the new policy of the Chinese government via a Dutch parent living in Yunnan. He was refused a residence permit for his baby daughter (who has only a Dutch passport, no Hukou/Chinese Passport). The Dutch government recommended this procedure actually, but very recently (within the last year) the Chinese government has changed the rules. The Chinese government considers the child Chinese (always the case), but now the child cannot renounce the Chinese nationality anymore when you live in China. The Dutch father then contacted the Dutch embassy and they were also surprised by this change in the enforcement of the law. They contacted the Chinese PSB directly and got this information about the current procedure:

1 since the child was born in China, she is regarded as Chinese citizen according to the Chinese Nationality Law, even though she has a Dutch passport, or she did not register Hukou in China;
2 since she is Chinese, PSB could not issue residence permit to a Chinese, and she can stay in China as long as she wants without any permits;
3 if she needs to go abroad, every time she needs to apply for an exit permit at PSB, and she needs another Chinese visa to get back;
4 she can not renounce her Chinese nationality since she is now living in China, only when she is living abroad, she can renounce the Chinese nationality;
5 In order to solve the problem, she can apply for a Chinese passport, which means she needs to register her Hukou at PSB and renounce her Dutch nationality.

The Dutch embassy then contacted the "Foreigners Entry & Exit Department of the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing". They confirmed that, since recently, it's no longer possible to renounce Chinese nationality (for your child) when you are living in China. This policy enforcement causes problems for mixed couples who want multiple children.

If you just want one child, there are several options:
1. Get a Chinese hukou + Chinese passport for the baby.
2. Get a Foreign passport for the baby
3. Do both 1+2 (illegal, but happens a lot; only seems to cause problems (fine) when you let the Chinese government know about the foreign passport).

If you go for option 1) there are no major problems and you will probably even get a free visa from your country into the Chinese passport of your child (because it probably is entitled to your nationality by birth). If you go for option 2), you will need a special Exit-permit every time to leave China (supposed to take about 5 working days). You then also need a Chinese visa in the foreign passport to enter China again. But once you enter China, the baby can stay in China as long as it wants (probably; because the baby is considered Chinese). This is inconvenient compared to the old situation, but not a huge problem.

When you want two (or more) children, the situation becomes more complicated. Since the first child cannot renounce the Chinese nationality, you would end up with two Chinese children. According to stories on Internet from Chinese mothers, in most hospitals in Shenzhen it's no problem to deliver a baby without permission from the government. Only if you want to register a Hukou for the second child, you would be fined. In Shenzhen the fine for breaking the one-child policy is about 170.000 Yuan. Unless you are very rich, this is something you want to avoid obviously. If you didn't apply for a hukou for the first child, the residence committee probably will not find you when your wife is pregnant. I have heard from another foreigner whose wife was pregnant of the second child in China and, probably because one of the neighbours told them, then they came to her house to blame/warn her that it's not allowed. She just told them it was none of their business. So it seems that not leaving any Chinese paper-trail of the first child is the best solution. You lose the benefits of cheap Chinese insurance and perhaps education, but you get (back) a little freedom. And that's also worth a lot.

I think getting two times no hukou, but two foreign passports is a good solution. The children will be considered Chinese in China, but Dutch abroad. Only hassle is getting into and out of China (exit permit), but that will not happen so often. When we travel back to the Netherlands some time in the future, we register their residence in the Netherlands and then renounce the foreign nationality and then return to China again - now without Chinese citizenship. Then use the benefits that family members of Foreign Experts can enjoy :)

During our research on this subject we also read that many Chinese parents do not like the one-child policy. It's also not clear what happens to the money of the hukou-fine. The whole policy is of course very unfair as well. Rich people can easily afford to pay the fine and get a hukou. Some people will use their relations to obtain the Hukou without paying. We also read about the reverse problem: a Chinese child (option 1) was denied a visa to Germany in first instance, because the child by birth already was entitled to German citizenship. Luckily for them, the German embassy was more flexible and gave the visa for Germany. We also read about how Chinese parents hide their kids when the census comes to their house (to avoid detection of the "illegal" child). Some Chinese parents registered their second child in a different city, because apparently some of those PSB's don't communicate with eachother yet. Anyway, it's my personal opinion that the nationality law in China is unreasonable. Especially this latest enforcement will just cause more problems and not solve anything.

I also do not understand how this latest change relates to article 10 of the Nationality Law, which states that any close relative to a foreign national should be able to renounce their Chinese nationality. Many questions remain, if anybody knows more, please let me know!

Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China (wikipedia, in English)

Update 28th August 2010, I did some more searching and found this story which seems to confirm it, and even shows the situation is even worse than expected. Foreigners are being fined for just having two children!
Children born from mixed couples in China are Chinese/ One-child policy now applies to such couples -

Another post on the same topic:
entry/exit permits for kids born in China


We tried to get to Oz again during this summer holiday and were told by the PSB Entry/Exit buttheads up here that it was impossible to issue the exit visa because Allie is Chinese. End of discussion. They did suggest getting her a Chinese passport and an Aussie tourist visa. The Aussie embassy nixed that because they won't issue a tourist visa to a citizen.

As far as China is concerned she's Chinese. As far as Australia is concerned she's Australian. She's stuck here in China!

We've had to make a written application to have her Chinese citizenship revoked and are now waiting the 3 months for this process to occur.

We made sure we didn't register little miss N in anything until we got her Oz citizenship. You have to be careful about that. That way, Little Miss N was nothing but Oz from birth, there was no argument, no need to revoke, no troubles or issues at all. Once it was done at least.

Don't register your kid's birth as Chinese at all. Ignore all and sundry efforts to do that, and ignore the law as it simply doesn't apply to you, no matter what they say. We had people visiting, officials and the like, but I ignored them. (when Mrs N was visibly pregnant the local doctor came around to make sure she was registered for a baby and did she want it or wanted an abortion. I simply threw her out of the house, and not politely either. Mrs N said that was bad, but I didn't give a shit. Nothing happened.)

That's exactly what we did, too. She was not registered on anything anywhere. Depending on where you are the Powersthatbe can optionally claim the child as Chinese by virtue of the mothers nationality, or not. Up here they did. In Dongguan they weren't worried about it. Mighty annoying.

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Tang Yu  - Same laws for everyone   | |2010-08-28 09:06:35
It's always the same problem with foreigners, they want to bright side of it all but never willing to comply to local rules. You're in a foreign country, then accept the local rules and stop cheating. Why should the rules be different between foreigners and locals?
Thijs  - Same laws? Really?     | |2010-08-28 14:03:09
Hello Tang Yu, though I understand your viewpoint, there is a flaw in your reasoning. I am willing to comply to the local rules, that's why I wrote this article: to exactly understand the local rules. If there is a way out (which there is I believe: no hukou, just foreign passport), then this is not cheating! Please re-read my article, you will see I do *not* talk about cheating anywhere or breaking the law!

Second of all, you cannot seriously claim that Chinese comply to the local rules? As written above, *MANY* Chinese parents do not follow the one-child policy. It ranges from delivery in Hong Kong, from paying fines, from hiding children, to corrupt officials and using relationships. The law (and enforcement of it) in China is a big mess. Everyone knows this. Everyone in China, especially the Chinese themselves, bend the rules at every possible opportunity.

Third of all, I am NOT a Chinese. I totally live by Chinese rules, but such a basic right of deciding how many children I can have, is not something the Chinese government can decide for me. The Chinese Nationality law is quite unusual in International Law from my reading up on the subject. Only very few countries have the system to make it extremely difficult to give up the nationality. This makes more a point for the Chinese changing their laws (and/of enforcement thereof).

Finally, there are several exceptions to the one-child policy: minorities can have multiple children, as can many rural families and also people who are both single child themselves. As Ryan below pointed out: the real problem is that the Chinese government makes it extremely difficult to give up the Chinese nationality, even though the child has the right to the Dutch nationality. This problem leads to problems with multiple Children.
Ryan  - Thanks for writing about this     | |2010-08-28 12:29:09
Hi Thijs, thanks for covering this topic -- it's quite useful to know. The no-Hukou + Foreign Passport is the way my wife and I have decided to go, as long-term it seems like the path with the most benefits for our son.

I totally agree, the laws and regulations about this seem intentionally complicated and one-sided. We can only hope that one day China may allow for dual citizenship (but if other Asian countries are any indication, I'm not holding my breath).

@Tang Yu: I think you mistook the post, but the key thing you seem to be confusing is that when it comes to the nationality of a child who has parents of two nationalities -- it should fundamentally be up to the parents what nationality they choose for their child and not a bureaucrat and a rubber stamp.
Henrique   | |2010-08-28 19:57:22
I also read the same forum and the new rules, amazing that the Dutch embassy didnt know about it and by chance got notice of it but thats China I guess.. the other thing is.. since the Hukou is only Chinese characters does that mean the baby will get the last name of the chinese family(if im right?), maybe a small problem but for some people a point to consider also
Thijs     | |2010-08-28 21:38:46
Yes, if you decide to go for the Chinese Hukou, then the baby indeed will get the name of the Chinese parent. I hope the Dutch embassy will soon be able to get to the bottom of this.

It seems under the new rules, that a child cannot become foreigner anymore when it lives in China because: any child born in China to at least one Chinese parent is Chinese. Next they do not allow dual nationality. Then they make it impossible to renounce the Chinese nationality. So that leaves the conclusion: the child cannot obtain the foreign nationality? This should make headlines worldwide (if it turns out to be true)
Yu Di  - Hallo   | |2010-08-29 05:27:23
Ik had begrepen dat je Nederlands bent dus doe ik het liever in het Nederlands

Ik woon nog niet in China en ga er voorlopig ook nog niet heen alhoewel het wel de plek is waar ik oud wil worden. Daarom leek het mij wel interessant om te weten hoe het in China geregeld was voor buitenlanders. Chinese vrienden vertelde mij dat het allemaal geen probleem was en dat ik net zo veel kinderen zou kunnen krijgen als ik wil. Maar nu ik dit lees zit dat kennelijk toch wel anders .

Ik vind het eigenlijk wel goed, als het voor buitenlanders anders was dan zou ik dat best discriminerend vinden. Maar als een koppel van twee enigst kinderen wel meerdere kinderen zouden mogen hebben vind ik dat zeker net zo discriminerend . Dat heb ik namelijk op andere websites gelezen.

Alhoewel ik vind dat je je moet aanpassen aan de regels van het land waar je woont vind ik dat als het om kinderen gaat je elke kans moet benutten om het zo gelukkig mogelijk te maken voor iedereen! 加油
Thijs (Shenzhen)     | |2010-08-30 15:00:46
Ik heb nog wat verhalen opgezocht, er heerst flink wat willekeur. In sommige steden in China kan je wel een Exit-permit krijgen, in andere plekken dat niet eens. Ik heb de Ned. ambassade gemaild zodat ik ook op de hoogte gehouden kan worden. Ik vind dat nationaliteit iets is dat ouders moeten kunnen beslissen (en daarmee ook het aantal kinderen).
Michael   | |2010-08-31 15:33:19
My wife also got a call from the neighborhood office telling her she can't have another child. We ignored the office--but that was also because the second baby was going to be born in Hong Kong.

China is basically the only country unreasonable on this matter about children able to have dual nationality before the age of 18. All other countries allow it. If the child uses the Chinese passport to come into the country the child will need a visa to get out of China (expensive) because officially the kid can't have a passport of another country. If it comes in on the foreign passport the child will need a Chinese visa on the foreign passport. Either way, it is expensive. Best to have the kid in HK.
Greg   | |2010-09-13 13:33:03
We've had a number of problems since our daughter was born in October 2009.
We arranged the one time exit permit and got her a chinese visa in Bangkok. Since then we've entered and returned 3 times, each time with a new Chinese visa.
They refuse to renew her visa in China so we have to leave and get a new one. Now Hong Kong is only doing 30 day visas we are in a bit of a pickle.
What you are suggesting sounds like a possible solution but I have a question. If we use the exit permit to leave China and then a chinese visa to enter is anyone (including the Chinese Embassy or consulate issuing the next visa) going to query the fact that her passport has lots of entry stamps but no exit stamps?
Henrique   | |2010-09-18 13:14:29
In reply to Gregs post, from what I read on the Internet, after the baby's first exit permit you need to get a Chinese visa for the baby in your own country (for Thijs and me: Holland) and then when you come back it is easier to renew the visa in china or even get a Residence Permit.

But I guess this also depends in which city you live my wife said Shenzhen is quite easy and open with this.. lets hope so!
Fernando Cantu  - Foreign soil?   | |2010-12-09 17:38:08
But... isn't an embassy considered Foreign Soil?

It's going to sound silly but...if the parents take the baby to the Embassy and then they renounce the Chinese nationality they should be able to do it right?

hehe sorry I just don't understand why the government try to keep Chinese on this country...
Thijs   | |2010-12-13 14:08:18
You can only renounce the Chinese nationality via the Chinese government, it doesn't involve any other country directly. I agree it's very strange how the Chinese government enforces these rules, but as long as you want to live in China, they can set these crazy rules.
Samuel  - Only-child   | |2012-01-16 06:15:01
Was it not true that if the two people in a couple in china are both a product of the one child policy that they themselves are allowed to have two children? If this is so, then can a mixed couple who are both 'only-childs' from their families have more than one child?

3.26 Copyright (C) 2008 / Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Monday, 30 August 2010 )
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