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China considers punishment for falsifying ethnic identity

Updated: Dec 2,2014 9:58 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — The State Council is soliciting opinions on a draft law on regulating Chinese ethnic identities, according to a statement from the State Council on Dec 2.

The draft was jointly written by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and Ministry of Public Security and stipulates that falsifying the ethnic identity of Chinese citizens shall be subject to punishment, in some cases even criminal penalties.

Falsified ethnic identity through forgery, tampering or false testimonial documents must be revoked by the ethnic affairs department and re-registered at the police department, the draft says.

Any privileges or legal advantages enjoyed because of the fake ethnic identity should also be eliminated, according to the draft.

If the violations are so serious as to constitute a crime, criminal responsibilities shall be assigned by judicial organs according to the law, the draft says.

The draft stipulates that Chinese citizens’ ethnic identities must be based either on the father’s or mother’s ethnic identity, which includes natural parents, foster parents and step-parents.

The draft says statutory guardians can change their children’s ethnic identities once under the following two conditions: a change of marital status of the parents, or adoption. Under these circumstances, the ethnic identity of the child can be altered in line with the parent who raises him or her.

The draft also clearly defines the identity of children of transnational marriages. If the child is to have Chinese nationality, then the ethnic identity will be based on his or her Chinese parent.

These policies are designed to achieve balanced development between different ethnic groups. For example, under the Chinese university enrollment system, applicants may gain additional credit if they belong to ethnic minority groups. Some families have attempted to gain these privileges by creating false materials to attain an ethnic minority identity.

The exposure draft is open to the public for review and comment. The public can log onto the official website “www.chinalaw.gov.cn” or use e-mail, fax or the postal service to submit opinions and suggestions until January 1, 2015.

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