An American man who moved to China eight years ago is making headlines for his determination to become a Chinese citizen.
Brent W., originally from Florida, arrived in the country in 2010 to work as a chief representative of an online company in Hong Kong.
“Although America is a great place, different things appeal to different people,” Brent told the South China Morning Post.
In May, he achieved China’s much-coveted “green card,” which makes him a permanent resident. This is a milestone considering that, for context, only 7,356 out of 600,000 foreigners became permanent residents in China between 2004 and 2014.
“Green card” applications increased as China eased its entry and residency policies from September 2015. Apparently, Brent is one of the 1,576 foreigners who became permanent residents in 2016, a figure up 163% from the previous year.
Brent, 54, currently lives with his wife, Tu Hui, and her daughter from a previous marriage in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. The couple married in 2011 and Brent applied for permanent residency five years later.
He reportedly spent half a year preparing pertinent documents, including criminal background checks in the U.S. and China. He managed to obtain necessities from the U.S. through two agencies.
Today, Brent is a virtual employee combating financial fraud. Fortunately, the fact that he can now work and live permanently in the country has put him closer to becoming a Chinese citizen.
“I kept thinking I was dreaming. I kept taking it out of my pocket and looking at it to make certain it was real. After three days, I finally determined it really happened,” he said.
He is well-aware that China does not recognize dual citizenship, but has no issue renouncing his American citizenship for one simple reason.
“I don’t hate America or dislike America. I just found I love China and Chinese people a lot more.
“If giving up one’s American nationality can automatically allow the person to get Chinese nationality, I would have become a Chinese citizen years ago.”
While Brent speaks little Mandarin, he has made a lot of Chinese friends. He also enjoys Hunan cuisine and “super spicy” food.
Interestingly, Brent and his wife are board members of MilliCharity, a local charity group. They donate 40,000 yuan ($6,150) every year and have supported 11 students across China.
Brent plans to apply for a Chinese citizenship next year.