‘Taiwan: My Name, My Right’ is a group formed of Taiwanese students in Norway seeking to lobby the government to label them officially as Taiwanese, rather than from China.
“I am fully Taiwanese, when you call me Chinese it’s an insult”
The group allege that the action contravened identity protections in the Norwegian constitution, the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights.
There is a long-running diplomatic dispute between the two territories, both of which are ruled by governments which see themselves as the ‘true’ Chinese administration.
Joseph, who wanted to remain anonymous until the launch of the lawsuit, completed a masters course in law at The University of Oslo and initiated the movement.
“I was wrongly recognised as a citizen [of a country] which I don’t identify myself as,” he told The PIE News.
“I also came here to learn about human rights and freedom of speech, but this administrative decision is totally against what I [hoped for].”
According to reports, the Taiwanese foreign ministry is assisting the students with their case.
Joseph explained that before 2010, Taiwanese students in Norway were recognised as Taiwanese on their official documentation.
The group suspects that when Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobao won the Nobel Peace Prize in that year, the Beijing government put pressure on their Oslo counterparts.
“The Norwegian government faced very strong pressure from the Chinese government, and it even boycotted their transportation to Norway and stop negotiating with the Norwegian government,” Joseph said.
“I am fully… Taiwanese, and proud. When you register me as Chinese, that is a really strong insult against [me],” he added.
In 2017, the Taiwanese group lodged an appeal against the decision to register them as citizens of China, which the Norwegian government eventually dismissed after eight months.
According to ‘Taiwan: My Name My Right’, in March 2018 the Norwegian Immigration Appeal Board maintained a ruling by stating that it is bound by the EU’s One-China Policy and that the registration does not have an influence upon the rights and obligations of the parties concerned.
“I came here to learn about human rights and freedom of speech”
Although Norway is not a full member of the EU, it accepts some rulings and policies as part of the European Economic Area.
The group has now started a crowdfunding campaign to hire a Norwegian lawyer.
Iceland is another country that recognises students from Taiwan as Chinese on their visas.
In 2016, the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration’s to listed an international student from Taiwan as “Stateless” rather than “Chinese”.
Marlén Hansen, acting Head of the Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board told HKPR that Norway does not recognise Taiwan as an independent state and “that is why the Norwegian Immigration authorities register persons from Taiwan as citizens of China”.
The Norwegian government has not replied to The PIE News’ request for additional comment.