The World Bank has told current employees of Taiwanese nationality they must have Chinese travel documents in order to maintain or pursue employment. The order comes a China ramps up its campaign to force Taiwan and its citizens out of the international community.
However forcing Taiwanese out its own staff in this way violates World Bank employment principles.
World Bank human resources staff have told Taiwanese nationals that they can only be employed by the World Bank if they have identification documents from the People’s Republic of China.
Taiwanese law prohibits citizens from maintaining dual citizenship with China.
This means that in order to abide by the policy of the World Bank, Taiwanese employees would have to choose between giving up their job, or choosing to become nationals of the People’s Republic of China. Jeopardize their Taiwanese citizenship and forcing them to break the law.
The big picture:
Taiwan governs itself but China views the island as part of its sovereign territory. For decades Beijing has waged a highly successful campaign to push Taiwan out of multilateral organizations.
Taiwan is not a World Bank member state. But the World Bank has long employed Taiwanese nationals.
What they’re saying:
After being contacted by Axios, the World Bank expressed regret for its actions regarding Taiwanese staff.
“When senior management was recently made aware, steps were immediately taken to revise the guidance,” a World Bank spokesperson told Axios. “Staff who are not nationals of a member country or a country where the World Bank group operates will retain their current employment status.”
The spokesperson said, “Our Principles of Staff Employment require that we treat our staff fairly. It is regrettable that this past practice led to some staff being asked to obtain another passport for purposes of employment as a national of that member state. This was not consistent with our values as an institution and has been remedied.”
The World Bank added that it has a long-standing practice of hiring nationals from member countries. And also countries where the World Bank Group operates.
World Bank staff expressed concern internally about the recent actions towards Taiwanese staff.
In early November, an online forum for World Bank employees allowed staff to propose questions for an all-staff town hall with World Bank Group President David Malpass.
One of the most up-voted questions posted to the internal forum was about the Taiwan policy.
The question, which was viewed by Axios, read:
“Why is the Bank quietly but systematically requiring all Taiwanese national staff (including consultants) to concede their national passports and their claim as natural Taiwanese citizens and forcing these staff to accept Chinese passports (and de facto citizen status)?
Why is Management allowing a member state to trample on the rights and dignity of staff? How can the Bank have any moral and ethical standing and on what basis can the Bank defend such an abhorrent treatment of its own staff?”
Malpass did not address the question in the subsequent town hall.
Between the lines of the World Bank:
A March 4, 2019 the World Bank‘s internal website laid out the following recruitment guidance. Titled “Recruitment of Chinese nationals from Taiwan”
As a result candidates from Taiwan can only be employed by the Bank if they hold PRC passports. Taiwanese applicants without PRC passports can apply for them from China. HRS should inform the Office of the Executive Director for China before hiring any staff from Taiwan.”
The World Bank told Axios:
“This guidance on our internal website dates back to 1999. It wasn’t based on the institution’s Principles of Staff Employment”
The bottom line:
As China grows more assertive on the world stage, Taiwanese are consequently in an increasingly precarious situation.