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My child is born in Macau, I am Australian, and my wife is from Mainland China.

My children by law can not be Macanese citizens or residents as neither the mother nor the father has Macanese Residency.

To avoid being stateless, I've applied for Australian passports for my child, and presented this at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Macau to get a Chinese Visa to travel to Beijing.

To cut a long story short, these were the things they've told me:

  • no he can't have China Visas as he is Chinese (obviously the birth was shared with the mainland authorities or perhaps they just saw my wife is from the mainland)
  • they are Chinese
  • no they aren't
  • ok, they are of questionable nationality
  • we will give the child a Chinese Travel document and
  • you must denounce the Chinese or Australian citizenship when he is 2 years old

Has anybody been in this situation, and does anybody know the process to denounce the Chinese Citizenship?

My wife tells me they have to go back to Beijing to do this, but that may see them trapped in China during a process of an unknown time period, so I need to do this while he is living in Macau using an Australian passport which carries his Visa to Macau... also arguable part

  • Your problem in fact seems to be diametrically opposed to statelessness, namely that your child has two nationalities, both Chinese and Australian. – phoog Feb 11 '16 at 18:19
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There is no such thing as "Macanese citizen". There are only Chinese (PRC) citizens and foreign citizens, and separately there is the concept of Macau permanent residents (who can be Chinese citizens or not).

According to Article 4 of the PRC Nationality Law, any child born in China (Macau is part of China) to at least one Chinese-citizen parent automatically has PRC nationality at birth. So your child has Chinese nationality. According to Article 24 of the Macau Basic Law, a Chinese citizen born in Macau automatically has Macau permanent residency. So your child is also a Macau permanent resident (regardless of whether either of you are).

What they said about your child's status is correct. I am not sure why you are averse to your child's Chinese citizenship. Is it because you think it is a hassle to apply for a Chinese Travel Document? Though, as your child is a Chinese citizen who is also a Macau permanent resident, they may be able to get a "Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents" to travel to the Mainland.

It is possible to apply to renounce Chinese citizenship in Macau. I am not sure whether the process applies to small children though.

  • It is probably worth mentioning that the child seems to be a dual national, since he already has an Australian passport. What does Chinese nationality law have to say about children born with multiple nationalities? – phoog Feb 11 '16 at 18:18
  • @phoog: It doesn't. China recognizes them as Chinese nationals, regardless of their other nationalities. This is pretty common e.g. with Chinese visitors who have children in the US; as long as the Chinese-citizen parent(s) don't have foreign permanent residency, the children have Chinese nationality at birth and are issued Chinese Travel Documents, not Chinese visas, even though it knows they are US citizens. The OP's situation is the reverse (born in China but also have foreign nationality) but the result is the same and it is treated similarly. – user102008 Feb 12 '16 at 2:02
  • @phoog: Australia is unusual among countries in that its citizenship by descent is not automatic at birth, so the child acquired Australian citizenship upon application after birth. But it doesn't matter because 1) the child was not "residing abroad" at the time (because Macau is not "abroad") and you need to be residing abroad and voluntarily acquire foreign nationality to lose Chinese nationality, and 2) Chinese legal interpretations that apply to Hong Kong and Macau say that the people there can reside abroad and acquire foreign nationality voluntarily and still not lose Chinese nationality – user102008 Feb 12 '16 at 2:06
  • @user102008 Jus Sanguinis is hardly an unusual practice. – Aron May 7 at 1:05
  • @Aron: Jus sanguinis is almost universal. However, for many countries, jus sanguinis is automatic at birth when the conditions in the law are met. Jus sanguinis that is not automatic at birth is somewhat unusual, at least among Western countries. – user102008 May 7 at 5:11

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