Redefining Chinese: Nationality Law, Borderlands, and State Succession, 1909–90s

Friday, January 8, 2010: 9:30 AM
Elizabeth Ballroom F (Hyatt)
Shao Dan , University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
In 1909, the Qing dynasty issued the first Chinese nationality law that defined Chinese national identity in accordance with internationally accepted legal codes.  In the late 20th century, special regulations of the People’s Republic of China concerning nationality issues of Hong Kong and Macau redefined the national identity of the residents there.  Between 1909 and the 1990s, the legal borders of national identity shifted in Manchuria and Taiwan where Japan had the legislative power during its occupations there.  Both the Japanese and Chinese nationality laws are centered on the bloodline principle: jus sanguinis—a legal principle of blood lineage that defines one’s nationality by birth.  While national borders were shifting in those historical borderlands amid the contestation between nationalism, colonialism, and regionalism, how was the principle of bloodline revised and practiced?  Based on a comparative study of different versions of and variations in Chinese nationality law, this paper examines how the nationalistic state redefined the existing pluralistic imperial polity and mobilized new identifiers or revised existing articles to interpret and practice the bloodline principle in accordance to changes in territoriality.  During the long 20th century, the dramatic changes in international contestation reshaped the legal meaning, social implication, and political consequence of the Chinese nationality law in those borderlands.
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