For example, on October 1st 1949, the People's Republic of China (PRC) was proclaimed. Would hundreds of millions of people then suddenly have switched from being citizens of the Republic of China (ROC) to the PRC?

I was inspired to ask this question because Tu Youyou has been heralded as the first science Nobel Prize winner from China (presumably meaning the PRC).

But Yang Chen-Ning and Lee Tsung-Dao also won the Physics Nobel Prize in 1957. According to Wikipedia, both moved to the USA in 1946, but became US citizens only in 1962 and 1964. So what was the citizenship of these two men when they won the Nobel Prize in 1957? The PRC or the ROC or something else?

  • 1
    That's a matter of perspective and personal allegiance. And there's no reason why you should presume "China" meant anything other than China the geographic location. However, Tu Youyou switched allegiance to the PRC, while both Yang Chen-Ning and Lee Tsung-Dao maintained their ROC citizenship at the time of their Nobel prize. In general, ROC loyalists or anti-PRC individuals of the Chinese intelligentsia did not remain within China. – Semaphore Oct 11 '15 at 7:23

Citizenship is a matter of mutual obligations and rights:

  • A citizen can demand certain things from the homeland, including the right to consular support from their embassy or the right to re-enter their homeland after a stay in another country. Democracies have even more rights, like the right to vote.
  • The homeland can demand certain things from a citizen, including military service and paying taxes, even if the citizen is staying in another country.

If the citizen and the homeland agree on the status, everything is fine. There could be some other constellations:

  1. The state claims a citizen, the citizen disagrees. That can happen when a descendant of emigrants travels to the "old country" -- the authorities there consider him a citizen and draft dodger.
  2. The citizen claims a state, the state disagrees. A rather unusual case, it happened when Communist states expelled protesters into the West.
  3. The citizen claims a state, the state doesn't exist. That's really a problem between the citizen and other states, who have to determine the status of that person.
|improve this answer|||||
  • 1
    "constellations"? Did you perhaps mean "consequences"? – Pieter Geerkens Oct 11 '15 at 13:50
  • 1
    @PieterGeerkens, I was thinking of pairings between the opinions of the homeland and the citizen regarding citizienship -- yes/yes (a clear case), yes/no (1st listed case), no/yes (2nd listed case), no/no (another clear case), not applicable/yes (3rd listed case). So I wanted to write constellation, but that is perhaps not the best word. "Case" or "situation" maybe? – o.m. Oct 11 '15 at 16:23
  • 2
    There are a few people (the descendants of Palestinians refugees come to mind), who just flat out have no state to claim. So basically you'd need a "4" for people who neither claim a state, nor are claimed by one. – T.E.D. Oct 12 '15 at 14:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.