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June 29, 2017

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Nationals without right of abode complicate visa waiver

Taiwan has yet to be included in the U.S. visa waiver program, but Taipei and Washington were agreed last week that people carrying Republic of China passports who have no right of abode in the Republic of China will not be able to visit the United States without an entry visa. Who are those people?

Well, even most of the people in the Republic of China do not know who those Republic of China passport holders are. Everybody knows a passport certifies its holder is a national of the country that issues it. The regular passport of the Republic of China states on its first page: "The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China requests all whom it may concern to permit the national of the Republic of China named herein to pass freely and in case of need all possible aid and protection." It is taken for granted that a national of a country has the right of abode in that country, and so many of us cannot but wonder why there are nationals of the Republic of China who have no right of abode in the Republic of China.

It is a long story. Before Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895, there had been no question of the right of abode. The Japanese introduced the domiciliary registration to Taiwan, and those born in their colony had to be registered with the authorities to have the right of abode. People of colonial Taiwan were given Japanese passports as Japanese nationals though they have no citizenship. After Taiwan was restored to the Republic of China, the province of Taiwan retained the domiciliary registration system. So everyone born in Taiwan has to be registered with a domiciliary registration office to acquire his or her right of abode. When he wants to go out of country, he has to get a passport by producing a document to prove his right of abode as well as his nationality. That document is the Certificate of Nationality (國民身分証明), which is commonly referred to in English as an

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