The nationality of a Taiwanese citizen has been classified as “stateless” on her residence permit in Iceland, and a photo of the permit has sparked discussion in Taiwan and China.

Lee Wan-chien (李宛蒨), 23, is currently in Iceland on a six-month student exchange program and has been applying for a residence permit with a “Taiwanese” nationality for three months. Lee has shared her application experience through three Facebook posts this month, with the most recent, on Nov. 18. showing a photo of the latest permit she received having her nationality as “Stateless.”

Lee says in her first post on Nov. 1 that she emailed The Directorate of Immigration in Iceland three times explaining why she hoped her nationality on her ID card could be changed to “Taiwanese” instead of “Chinese.” However, all three emails did not receive a reply, and Lee went directly to the immigration office where an official said the nationality could not be changed because Taiwan is not recognized as a country.


Taiwanese in Europe Facebook page

Screenshot of Lee's first Facebook post.

In her second post, on Nov. 12, Lee says she went to the immigration office again the day after her first visit, and a different official said she had no authority to change Lee’s nationality to “Taiwanese” because the registry office had refused to do so. The official said, however, she could have Lee’s nationality altered to “Stateless,” which Lee accepted.

The day following Lee’s second visit to the immigration office, she received a phone call from the official from the previous day who said the registry office had refused her application to change Lee’s nationality to “Stateless” and asked Lee to contact the registry office herself. Lee sent an email to the registry office and received a reply saying she would be notified once the office reached a decision.

Lee said she also emailed the Taipei Representative Office in Denmark and received a phone call from the representative Chuang Heng-sheng (莊恆盛). According to Lee, the representative said that a year ago Iceland was still issuing permits with “Taiwanese” nationalities. Chuang told The News Lens International via phone today that the office is currently working on the issue and "hopes to resolve it as soon as possible."

In Lee’s third post on Nov. 18, she says she received a new residence permit sent by the registry office and found her nationality was now “Stateless.” Her place of birth was also changed from “Kaohsiung” to “Taiwan.” Lee writes, “I didn’t know if I should cry or be happy,” but “this kind of means I was half successful? At least ‘stateless’ means they agree with me that ‘Taiwan is not part of China.’”


Taiwanese in Europe Facebook page

Lee’s most recent post has been shared more than 1,800 times, and many Taiwanese netizens have clamored to the three posts leaving comments encouraging Lee to continue fighting for “rectifying Taiwan’s name” and acknowledging her “courage.” However, many Chinese netizens have also joined in the discussion, saying comments such as, “China only wants Taiwan’s land, not its people” and, “We don’t care what nationality you want to be.”

Editor: Edward White