A Taiwanese woman living in Iceland now has “stateless” printed on her residence permit after she appealed against being listed as "Chinese” earlier.
23-year-old Lee Wan-chien shared the photo of her new residence permit on the Facebook group "Taiwanese in Europe,” labeling it a troubling sign for Taiwan's weakening status as a self-governing nation around the world.
“Even though I’m only on a half-year exchange, having ‘Chinese’ written on my ID card made me uncomfortable, because I identify with Taiwan as my country of citizenship,” she wrote on the Facebook group.
According to Lee, she had sent emails to the Directorate of Immigration in Iceland, requesting to change her nationality to Taiwanese but nothing happened.
When she finally went to the immigration office personally, an official told her that since Iceland does not formally recognize Taiwan as a country, her nationality could not be changed.
“The woman at the window looked at me apologetically and said she was surprised that there would be this kind of problem, but her supervisor had said that because Taiwan was not a recognized country, there was nothing he could do,” Lee said.
While waiting for the corrected document, Lee preferred carrying her passport for identification purposes instead of her permit.
However, after nearly three months of back-and-forth with government bureaus and, finally, the Taipei Representative Office in Denmark, she received a new ID card, which listed her nationality as “stateless.”
“At that moment, I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or cry,” Lee said. “This probably barely counts as half of a success, because ‘stateless’ at least shows that they acknowledge my statement that Taiwan isn’t Chinese territory.”
Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China (ROC) and it lies off China’s southeastern coast. Since 1949, tensions have simmered between the two over the former’s status because Beijing claims the island nation as part of its territory, however, Taiwan, which has its own constitution, armed forces and a democratic set-up (in stark contrast to the autocratic communist regime in Beijing), argues it’s more of a self-governing, independent state — a notion that China strongly resists.
Even during Olympics, Taiwan has its own separate team but they are forced to compete under the awkward moniker “Chinese Taipei.”