護照情結在台灣

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1993 / 11月

文‧陳雅玲 圖‧邱瑞金


很少地方像台灣一樣,兩千萬人口中竟有大約四十萬人(五十分之一)持有兩國以上的護照。

過去很多人以拿外國護照為榮,如今卻以護照來衡量是否認同中華民國台灣——這又變成一種新流行。

國人究竟怎麼看護照?


今年國慶晚會上,專程趕回國參加國慶的旅日歌手歐陽菲菲表示,儘管她已經嫁到日本,但是十幾年來,她拿的仍然是我國護照。「我以拿中華民國護照為榮!」她說。

台下的僑務委員會委員長章孝嚴聽得十分開心,頻頻微笑。

日子過得好最重要

然而歐陽菲菲畢竟是少數。在日本出生、至今仍堅持拿中華民國護照的全壘打王王貞治也是少數。許多人移民就是為了入外國籍,拿外國護照。

根據政府相關單位統計,凡在台灣設有戶籍,而拿外國護照來申請回台加簽的,高達四十餘萬人次。這其中包括重複申請的人,卻沒有納入只拿我國護照入境的雙重國籍人士。

這有著不得不然的苦衷。自從政府由大陸遷台,就有許多國家與我國陸續斷交;退出聯合國至今,我國正式邦交國只有廿九個。尤其在早年,許多國家基於傳統外交原則,根本不承認我國護照。

「希望拿自己國家護照是一種對國家的感情,人皆有之。但是如果這樣的堅持影響到個人的生存權、發展權的時候,我認為人民有權利做一個抉擇」,對護照問題曾深入探索的自由時報文藝中心主任羅炯烜舉例指出,在日本打職棒,一個球隊只能有兩名外國球員,為了不佔名額,很多到日本發展的我國球員紛紛入籍。

「王貞治一直是頂尖人物,可以屹立不搖;郭源治拿了十幾年中華民國護照,最後還是放棄了。」羅炯烜認為,他們並不是不認同國家,而是一種權宜之計。

就是行不得也

這種不得已在商界尤其常見。

坦承自己拿了兩本護照的中華民國東歐經貿協會理事長崔中表示,他早在民國六十年代,就開始用美國護照。「三十多年前我到美國留學,拿到學位後留在美國工作,公司就幫我辦了永久居留權。」後來崔中決定回國發展,並沒有積極去取得美國籍。

但是在當時,雖然我國還沒有退出聯合國,但與歐洲許多國家已經斷交了。而常常須要到世界各國做貿易的他,為了辦一個歐洲國家的簽證,要特地搭乘國泰航空公司的班機(那時還沒有華航)飛到香港待幾天,先取得中立國瑞士的簽證,再飛到日內瓦辦其他國家的簽證。

「那些國家的簽證拿不拿得到,就要看運氣了」,崔中回憶,有一次義大利就是不發簽證給他,讓他損失不貲。「當時常常會因為拿不到簽證,事情沒有辦法做。」崔中覺得這樣實在不行,才下定決心,在領到綠卡七、八年後,到美國取得美國籍,拿美國護照。

國人持有外國護照,還有其他各式各樣的情況和理由。

在戒嚴時代,曾有人在海外從事反政府運動,被沒收護照,而改拿其他國家護照。

「黑名單還沒完全解除時,許多海外異議分子怎麼進得來?」台北市移民公會理事長傅兆蓬暗示,「移民業者太厲害了,能讓這些人如入無人之境。」

有錢能使護照賣

一般百姓持有外國護照則大多是為了孩子。台北美國學校有一陣子不接受中華民國籍的學生,一些家長為了子女能接收美國教育,還特地到美國待產,這些孩子生下來就是雙重國籍,將來擁有兩本護照。

至於不能用這個方法取得外國護照的人,只有另想辦法——包括用錢來解決問題。

移民業者不諱言地表示,同業間確實有人專門做買賣護照的生意。像貝里斯、秘魯、賴索托、多明尼克,就有所謂「經濟公民」的身分,公然賣自己國家的護照。而國人買護照的心理就像是買保險一樣,多多益善。傅兆蓬透露,有些黑道大亨,口袋一掏出來,赫然六、七本護照。

近年來我國經濟成長迅速、政治自由開放、國際地位提升,務實外交也成果豐碩,過去需要外國護照的一些理由已不復存在。崔中指出,由於我們國力日強,不但許多沒有邦交的國家直接在台灣發簽證,很多國家甚至免簽證或核發落地簽證。另外,台灣的旅行社已經相當專業,只要把護照交給他們,一切料理妥當。

台灣人的悲情?

便利性已經大大增進了,但許多人並不以此為滿足。對他們而言,護照還應該具有安全和榮譽的象徵意義。

「中華民國的駐外單位多是經貿單位,位階不夠,老百姓怎麼相信你能為他解決問題?」傅兆蓬不諱言地說。

此外,很多人對日本及英國、法國等歐洲國家不直接在我國護照上簽證,而用另外一張紙的作法備感屈辱。

「我覺得做為一個台灣人滿難過的,外匯存底那麼多、電影也在國際間得大獎,但受到的不公平待遇太多了」,羅炯烜無限感慨:「我們認為,只有加入聯合國,取得國家的主權認定,得到我們應有的國格,才能根本解決這個問題。」

為此,自由時報在今年四月開始在廣播和電視上,打出「推動重返聯合國,讓子子孫孫以拿中華民國護照為榮」的公益廣告。

當然也有人不同意這種說法。

「我和身邊的朋友並不覺得拿中華民國護照曾經受到歧視」,常常代表我國露營協會出國參加國際會議的椰林牙科醫師紀光慎認為,這應該是部分國人通關時語言不通、態度不大方等個人因素。

他記得一九八四年他到波蘭開會,臨時決定到當時還是共產社會的東柏林,當場辦簽證,結果也很順利,簽證費是廿五馬克。導遊說如果是韓國人則要四十馬克。他很好奇地問原由,得到的答案是:「你們台灣人只是來玩,韓國人可能會做間諜。」

政壇炒起護照話題

過去被許多人視為身分地位表徵的外國護照,近年來卻反轉成為一種個人隱私,不熟的人不能隨意刺探。

「過去大家都在中華民國護照外面包一個護照套,好像拿出來不好意思」,專辦南非移民,自己就有好幾本護照的的翔羚企管顧問公司總經理鄒易達半開玩笑說道,現在大家都不用護照套了,反而把其他國家的護照包起來。

這主要受到台灣近來政治氣候的影響。

立法委員陳婉真四年前「翻牆回台」後,被檢方以違反國安法起訴。她不平地反駁:「為什麼我不能回台灣?在海外這麼多年,我從來沒有拿過其他國家的護照。」

近年來政治人物為了競相表示自己愛台灣,不是腳踏兩條船,興起一股「放棄外國護照熱」。像去年底立法委員選舉提名時,中南部就有候選人宣佈放棄他的美國護照;七十八年李宗藩參加台南縣長選舉時,也表示放棄他的日本護照。

「每到選舉,民進黨就來我們這裡查資料,看誰有兩本護照」,入出境管理局副局長劉蓬春說。

也就在這樣的政治環境下,民國八十年選罷法修訂,就加了第六十七條之一的新規定——公職人員當選後、就職前,要放棄其外國籍。

護照與愛國

這種政治風氣,也漸漸影響到一般人對護照的看法。

自小移民國外、大學畢業後回台灣工作的陳立真,就遇到有人質疑她拿的是哪一國的護照,她對台灣的認同究竟如何?

以持有的護照做為檢測是否認同國家的指標,不只在國內如此;日本也是相同。

像王貞治堅持拿中華民國護照,不入日本籍,雖然常被國人稱道,但也成為他在日本球壇發展的包袱。每當他成績不好,就有球評攻他,說他心向外人。

「沒有拿外國護照,就一定愛國嗎?」紀光慎十分不以為然。他有一位好朋友,大學畢業後留在英國十幾年,一直拿的是中華民國護照。有一年他們分別從台灣和英國到保加利亞開會。朋友對於他們能首開紀錄拿中華民國的護照進來十分得意。朋友還帶了一面國旗,在大會上升起來,大家都感到熱血沸騰。

「後來他為了在英國開業,才去換拿英國護照」,紀光慎認為,拿不拿外國護照和愛不愛國不一定成正比。

他還透露,自從台獨的主張正式納入民進黨黨綱後,很多人對台灣又產生了不確定感。世界經濟不景氣,很多華人回台灣工作,但是「擔心台灣有一天真的會獨立」,以至於不敢放棄另外一本護照。

「變色龍」之歌

對於部分國人想辦法拿一本外國護照做「護身符」,外交部領務局局長洪健雄表示,由於國籍法默許雙重國籍,因此,這是國民的權利,政府沒有話說;但是,有些人已經是「變色龍」,隨時變換身分,看什麼情況對他有利就拿出哪一本護照。

根據所得稅法規定,在境內居留天數超過一百八十三天者,就要依綜合所得稅規定繳稅;外人納稅則都是二十%。因此,年收入所得淨額在二百卅萬以下的人,由於平均課稅率低於二十%,以國人身分申報有利,入境時就會儘量拿中華民國護照;但真正高所得者,就會儘量以外國人身分入境,繳二十%的固定稅率。

此外,當這些人到大陸時,就會以中華民國護照申請台胞證。因為在所有的外人中,中共對台胞的待遇最優惠。大如投資條件,小至博物館的門票,台胞身分都能讓他們享受許多優待。

儘管內政部入出境管理局規定,拿哪一本護照入境,就要拿哪一本護照出境。但很多人持中華民國民護照返台(可以免簽證),出境時,卻會要求海關人員在他的外國護照上蓋章,證明他是以外國人身分到台灣的。

「因為他心虛,怕外國政府發現他有雙重國籍,取消他的外國護照呀!」境管局副局長劉蓬春解釋。而政府在不與人為惡的情況下,多會「幫這個忙」。

腳踏海峽兩岸

「我們並不是排斥雙重國籍,但現在有很多人利用拿兩本護照,享受了兩個國家的權利,卻規避應盡的國民義務。」內政部戶政司長簡太郎舉例,現在小留學生出國,只要超過兩年,就可以改成僑居,變成華僑。每次回國只要不超過一定時間,就可以不服兵役。

針對國籍法的漏洞,政府曾有修法計畫,傾向改為有限度的雙重國籍,但因擔心海外華僑的反對聲浪太大,而暫緩下來。「但不會永遠不修」,簡太郎篤定地表示。

但對台商而言,目前拿中國大陸護照又成為另一種風尚。最近有一位在東南亞投資的台商因持有「中華人民共和國」護照,入境後被調查局調查並限制出境半年,引起台商們極度不滿。

「我國與泰國沒有簽訂投資保障協定,不拿中共護照,就沒有辦法將當地產業放在自己名下」,一位也到泰國投資的林姓台商罵道,「政府太沒有彈性了。」

「『兩岸關係條例』規定得很清楚,凡是大陸人士,要進入台灣有種種限制。你既然拿了中共護照,政府當然可以拿你當大陸人士看待。」劉蓬春無奈地搖頭表示,這位台商實在是自找麻煩,也給政府出難題。

對於中共護照風波,全聯國際貿易總經理鮑永建認為,台商如果團結一點,對投資國施壓,與我國簽了投保協定,就不必依靠中共的護照了。

「我也很懷疑:一旦你出事,中共大使館能幫你多少忙?」鮑永建說,匈牙利有三、四萬非法居留的大陸人被趕出境時,當地中共大使館的反應是「不予置評」。

外國護照後遺症

曾順利取得外國護照者,確實享受過一些便利與好處,尤其是那些在全世界都很「罩得住」的大國護照。但是,也有所失。

早年曾有人為了拿美國護照,像簽了賣身契一樣免費為餐館老闆打工三年,等三年苦熬過去,護照拿到手時,早已分不清是喜是悲。現在國人有錢了,但為了拿外國護照,仍必須長期坐「移民監」,有人失去了事業,失去了自尊;有的因父親與孩子長期疏遠而造成文化隔閡、親情難敘;還有許多夫妻因二地分離,最後失去了婚姻,破碎了家庭。……

護照在台灣人的心中,究竟是一種方便法門,還是一種國家認同的象徵?愈問,愈令人惘然了。

〔圖片說明〕

P.30

國人看護照,心有千千結。(張良綱攝)

P.32

自從國力日強,持有中華民國護照在國外旅遊的便利性已經大大增進了。

P.33

目前,香港是少數對我國護照核發簽證手續比較麻煩的地區。

P.34

儘管中央研究院院士中有三分之二擁有外國護照,但他們依舊認同國家,對國內的學術界貢獻良多。

P.35

全壘打王王貞治在日本球壇發展數十年,堅持拿中華民國護照。(卜華志攝)

P.36

為了讓孩子在台北接受美國教育,很多家長想辦法取得外國護照。

P.37

台商為了方便到海外投資,也有人多拿一本他國護照。(王煒昶攝)

P.38

過去為了政治號召,對大陸人士發放護照的情形,如今已經改變了。圖為漁船上的大陸偷渡客。(張良綱攝)

P.38

為了取得外國護照,有人「派」孩子到海外當小留學生,先行探路。結果,賠上了親子親情,也造成了文化斷層。(黃麗梨攝)

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EN

Mixed Emotions: Passports and National Identity

Elaine Chen /photos courtesy of Diago Chiu /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

In regards to passports, Taiwan is an unusual place. Out of a population of 20 million, around 400,000 people (that's one out of 50) hold two or more of them.

It used to be that a foreign passport was a fashionable item one showed off; now it's all the fashion to question the national allegiances of those who possess one.

What indeed do people in the ROC think of passports?


Singer Ouyang Fei-fei came back from Japan to join the Double Tenth National Day celebrations this year. At the festivities that evening she explained that even though she had married a Japanese and moved to Japan some ten years before, she was still carrying her ROC passport after all that time. "I am honored to carry an ROC passport," she said.

In his seat in the audience, John Chang, chairman of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission, grinned.

Looking out for themselves:

But few are like Ouyang Fei-fei or the Japanese baseball home run king Wang Chen-chih, who stubbornly holds onto his ROC passport despite being born and raised in Japan. Many, in fact, leave Taiwan precisely because they want to obtain a foreign passport.

According to government statistics, more than 400,000 with residences in Taiwan but foreign passports have applied for return stay extensions. This figure includes those reapplying but not those with two passports who used the ROC passport to enter Taiwan.

Many of these people were forced by adverse circumstances to take a second passport. After the ROC government came to Taiwan from the mainland, one country after another severed relations with the nation. When it was booted from the United Nations, more broke ties, and now only 29 foreign governments recognize the country. Particularly in the early years, many nations--based on traditional principles of foreign relations -- did not recognize ROC passports.

"Out of affection for one's motherland, everyone wants to carry its passport, but when so doing affects your ability to survive and take hold of opportunities, you have a right to choose," says Lo Chiung-hsuan, the director of the Liberty Times' Art Center, who once thought long and hard over this issue. He cites the example of Taiwanese playing professional baseball in Japan, where teams can only put two foreign players on a roster. Many Taiwanese players take Japanese citizenship to avoid forcing teams to use one of these slots on them.

"Wang Chen-chih has always been an excellent person; he's steady as a rock," Lo says. "Kuo Yuan-chih finally let go of his ROC passport after more than 10 years there. It's not that they don't identify with their country, Lo asserts, but that they have done what's expedient.

No way out:

These kinds of situations are often seen in the business world.

Andrew Tsuei, Chairman of the Central European Business Association of the ROC, is up front about holding two passports. He started holding an American one way back in the seventies. "Thirty years ago I went to America to study and after I earned my degree, I stayed to work in the States. My company helped arrange rights of permanent residence for me." When Tsuei decided to pursue his career back in Taiwan, he did not take steps to obtain an American passport.

Although the ROC had yet to be booted out of the United Nations, many European countries had already broken ties, and he needed to go around the world on business. To get visas to European countries, he would specially board a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong (back in the days before China Airlines), where he would spend a few days to get his Swiss visa. Then he would fly to Geneva and apply for the other visas there.

"Whether I would get them or not was a matter of luck," Tsuei recalls. Italy once refused him, costing him dearly. "At the time I would often not be able to do business simply because I was unable to get a visa." Tsuei remembers that it was only because the situation was so impossible that he finally decided, seven or eight years after obtaining a green card, to go to America, establish citizenship and get an American passport.

ROC nationals with foreign passports give all sorts of reasons for why they got them. During the martial law period, the government confiscated the passports of some opposition figures living abroad, some of whom would then take the passports of other nations.

"During the time when black lists had not entirely ceased being used, how else could many dissidents come back to Taiwan?" says Gordon C.P. Fu, the head of the Taipei Immigration Consultants Association. "People in the immigration business are too good at what they do--and they allowed dissidents to come and go at will."

Most people who get foreign passports do it for their children. During one period the Taipei American School did not accept ROC nationals. To give their children an American education, some parents specially went to America just before they gave birth so that their children would have dual nationality and two passports.

Passports for sale: For those without these methods at their disposal, there's always cold cash. People in the immigration business admit that the industry includes those--it's always others--who specialize in the business of selling passports. Such third world countries as Belize, Peru, Lesotho and the Dominican Republic offer "economic citizenship" and openly sell their passports. Their customers in the ROC approach passports like insurance, thinking the more they have, the greater the benefits. Fu says some successful gangsters can pull out six or seven passports.

With the recent rapid economic growth in Taiwan, political liberalization, and a successful switch to a more practical approach to foreign policy, the ROC's international status has risen, and some of the reasons used in the past for obtaining foreign passports no longer exist. Andrew C. Tsuei points out that as our national power grows stronger by the day, not only will many countries that do not have relations with the ROC issue visas directly in Taiwan, but many countries will not even require a visa of ROC nationals or will give visas on arrival. What's more, Taiwan's travel agencies are by now extremely professional. You just give them your passport and they take care of everything.

The tragedy of the Taiwanese:

And yet, though things are much more convenient, many people are not satisfied. As far as they are concerned, a passport ought to symbolize security and honor.

Many people feel humiliated that Japan and European countries such as England and France do not stamp their visas in ROC passports, issuing them on separate sheets of paper.

"The ROC units posted abroad are for the most part economic units," Fu points out, "and their status is low. How can people believe that they will be of much assistance?"

"It's a sad fate to be from Taiwan," says Lo Chiung-hsuan. "Our foreign reserves are so high and our movies win major international prizes, but one has to put up with so much that is unfair. To get to the root of the problem, we've got to join the United Nations. Only that will give us the qualifications we ought to have as a nation."

To this end, The Liberty Times began in April of this year to broadcast public service commercials on television and radio. "Push for a return to the United Nations," they urged, "and let our children and grandchildren be proud of their ROC passports."

Of course there are still people who don't agree with this way of putting things.

"My friends and I don't think that we've been ill treated on account of our ROC passport," says Jackson G.S. Chi, a dentist at the Yelling Dental Clinic who frequently goes abroad to attend international conferences as a representative of our national camping association. He thinks this must be an opinion held by some ROC citizens as a result of their own shortcomings--their lack of poise or inability to communicate with foreign customs officers.

He remembers that in 1984 he went to Poland to attend a conference and on a whim decided to go to visit the then socialist East Berlin. He went to arrange the visa on the spot, and everything went very smoothly. The visa cost him 25 marks, but the tour guide said Koreans had to pay 40 marks. Out of curiosity he asked why, and was told, "You Taiwanese are just coming to enjoy yourselves but the Koreans might be doing some spying."

In the political spotlight: Possession of a foreign passport, which used to represent high status, has of late become something people keep to themselves and reveal only to the closest of friends.

"In the past, everybody would put a special cover around their ROC passports as if they were ashamed of them," says Jack Tsou, who specializes in immigration to South Africa as the general manager of Springbok Management Consultants and carries several passports himself Now everyone has taken these covers off their ROC passports and put them on their other passports.

This has largely been the result of the current Taiwan political climate. When Legislator Chen Wan-chen was being prosecuted for illegally reentering Taiwan, she argued, "Why couldn't I return to Taiwan? Though abroad for so many years, I never held another passport."

To display their own patriotism and show that their allegiances weren't divided, politicians have made it a fashion to turn in their foreign passports. When candidates were being nominated to run for the legislature last year, one candidate publicly renounced his American passport. In 1989 when Li Tsung-fan was running in elections for Tainan County Magistrate, he did the same with his Japanese passport.

"When elections roll around, the DPP always comes here to look into who has two passports," says Liu Peng-chun, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Entry and Exit.

And it was in such a political environment the 1991 election law revisions were passed. They include a new stipulation under article 67, which requires elected officials to renounce their foreign passports before taking office.

Passports and patriotism: Such a political climate has gradually affected the way most people look at their passports.

Amy Chen emigrated from Taiwan when she was young and returned to Taiwan to work after graduating from college. People have wondered about which passport or passports she holds and have doubted whether or not she identifies with Taiwan. Using the holding of which passport as a litmus test for national allegiance is not limited to Taiwan. It's just the same in Japan.

While Wang Chen-chih's insistence on keeping his ROC passport and refusal to take a Japanese one is often cited by Taiwanese, it works to his detriment as a baseball player in Japan. Whenever the home run king doesn't perform well, sports writers attack him for having his loyalties elsewhere.

"But does having a foreign passport equate with not being patriotic?" asks Jackson G.S. Chi. He believes that it most definitely does not. He has a good friend who after graduating from college stayed in England for more than a decade, all the while holding an ROC passport. One year they separately left Taiwan and England for a meeting in Bulgaria. Extremely proud of their breaking new ground for the ROC, his friend even brought along a flag. When they raised it at the conference, they were both overcome with patriotic fervor.

"Later, in order to pursue a career in England," Chi notes, "he obtained a British passport." Chi holds that having a foreign passport has nothing to do with loving one's country or not.

He also reveals that ever since the goal of Taiwan independence was formally included in the DPP's Charter, people have felt uncertain about the island's future. With an international economic slump, many Chinese have returned to Taiwan to work, but "fearing that Taiwan will one day really be independent," they dare not give up their other passports.

Song of the chameleons:

As for those who want to get a foreign passport as "protection," Hung Chien-hsiung, the director of the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, points out that because ROC nationality law doesn't explicitly forbid dual nationality, the people have the right of dual nationality and the government has no grounds to do anything about it. The problem is that many people have become chameleons of nationality, changing flags whenever it suits them.

Anyone who lives in Taiwan for more than 183 days of the year must pay taxes in accordance with the standard income tax rates. People who live outside the country must pay a flat rate of 20 percent on income earned here. Those who make less than NT$2.3 million a year will pay less than 20 percent of their income in taxes, and hence dual nationals more often than not use their ROC passports when entering the country. But those with truly high incomes use their foreign passports as much as possible so that--based on the few days their ROC passports show that they were in the country--they can enjoy the flat rate of 20 percent. What's more, when these people go to mainland China, they will use their ROC passports to apply for their "Taiwan Compatriot Identity Certificates" because the communist authorities treat the Taiwanese best of all outsiders. From special investment conditions to lower museum admission prices, "Taiwanese compatriots" enjoy all kinds of advantages.

The Bureau of Entry and Exit stipulates that the passport used for entry must be the one used for departure. But many people use the ROC passport when they enter--so they needn't apply for a visa--and then ask the customs officials to stamp their other passport when they leave.

"It's because they are worried that the foreign government will discover that they have dual nationality and will void their foreign passport!"explains Liu Peng-chun, the deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Entry and Exit. And the government, not wanting to cause them trouble, is always willing to oblige.

One foot on each shore:

"It's not that we're against dual nationality, but it's just that lots of people use two passports to enjoy the privileges of citizenship of two countries while avoiding the duties of it in either," says Chien Tai-lang, the director of the Department of Population of the Ministry of Interior. He cites the case of child students abroad. Once they're abroad for more than two years, they can change their status to overseas Chinese. As long as their visits don't exceed a certain length of time, they can avoid military service.

Having pinpointed loopholes in ROC nationality law, the government once had plans to make revisions that would allow only limited forms of dual nationality, but because the government was worried about a tidal wave of opposition from overseas Chinese, it put the plans on a back burner. "But the revisions won't be put off forever," Chien Tailang assures.

Carrying a PRC passport from the mainland has even become a trend among businessmen. Recently the Bureau of Investigation prohibited a Taiwanese investor in Southeast Asia who held a PRC passport from leaving the country for half a year--a move that raised the hackles of the business community.

"The ROC and Thailand have not signed an investment guarantee agreement. Without using a PRC passport, there is no way to put property under one's own name," angrily points out a Taiwanese investor in Thailand named Lin. "The government has got to be more flexible."

"The 'Cross Straits' Relations Regulations' are very clear: various kinds of restrictions apply to any citizen of mainland China entering Taiwan. If you carry a mainland passport, the government can of course regard you as a PRC citizen,"says Liu Peng-chun, shaking his head in exasperation. That Taiwanese businessman, he holds, was just looking for trouble and was putting the government in a tough spot.

On this issue, Pao Yung-chien, chairman of the trading company Cosmo International, says that if Taiwan businessmen can come together and put some pressure on the countries in which they are investing, those countries will sign agreements safeguarding investments with the ROC, and there will be no need to rely on a PRC passport.

"I have my doubts about how much mainland Chinese embassies will be of assistance," Pao says. When Hungary was expelling 30-40,000 illegal mainland Chinese immigrants, the reaction of the Chinese embassy there was "No comment."

The downside:

Those who smoothly obtain foreign passports do indeed enjoy some benefits and privileges, especially with those "big shot" passports respected all over the world. But there are also things that they lose.

In order to get an American passport, one Taiwanese many years ago signed a contract (much like one for indentured servitude) to work for his boss for three years. After three years of hard work, he wasn't sure if what he had done was a tragedy or an achievement. Money may not be an issue now, but in order to get a foreign passport, you're condemned to living abroad for a long time. Some people lose their jobs and their self respect. Sometimes, because fathers and children live apart for so long, cultural barriers arise, and they lose a sense of intimacy. And when the strains of separation are too great, marriages are broken and families torn apart.

In the hearts of Taiwanese, is a passport just something of convenience or something symbolic of national identity? The more you ask, the more confused you'll become.

[Picture Caption]

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What a bunch of mixed emotions the people of the ROC have for passports. (photo by Vincent Chang)

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As the nation grows more powerful, travelling with an ROC passport becomes more convenient.

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Hong Kong is one of the few places with visa application procedures that still result in difficulties for ROC citizens.

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Even if two thirds of the members of the Academia Sinica carry foreign passports, they identify with the ROC just as before, and they have made contributions to scholarship here in Taiwan.

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Slugger Wang Chen-chih has been hitting home runs in Japan for some ten years now, but he still insists on holding an ROC passport. (photo by Pu Hua-chih)

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To give their children an American education in Taipei, some parents find a way to get them a foreign passport.

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Many Taiwanese businessmen carry another country's passport to make in vestment abroad more convenient. (photo by Wang Wei-Chang)

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The ROC used to issue passports to residents of the mainland for political reasons, but this policy has been changed. The photo shows mainland Chinese who were trying to sneak into to Taiwan on a fishing boat. (photo by Vincent Chang)

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In order to get foreign passports, some parents send their children to attend school abroad so as to establish a foothold there. The result is that parents lose a sense of intimacy with their children as cultural barrier s arise between them. (photo by Huang Li-li)

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