Born in Taiwan, Chen Hsiang left China in 2011 and settled in Florida, where he got married and moved into a condo.
When he became pregnant, his wife had to move out.
“I thought, I’m not going to be able to live with my kids anymore,” Chen said.
Chen spent about six months in a Chinese hospital and then was released, because he didn’t have the means to pay for his own travel and accommodation.
The experience left Chen frustrated and angry.
“They were saying, ‘You don’t need to come here anymore.
You can come to Taiwan,’ and I thought, what are they talking about?
I can’t even go out.
I’ve been here for three years,” Chen recalled.
“Then I heard about the ‘I’m Chinese’ policy.
My parents were very proud of me, but I don’t have a Chinese surname.”
Chen, who is a lawyer, decided to try to get his name changed and then started a petition.
“If you don’t change your name, you won’t be able even to call yourself Chinese.
It was very difficult,” he said.
In 2012, a US appeals court agreed with Chen’s legal argument.
In 2014, the Chinese government changed the rules to allow Chen to have his name legally changed.
Chen, now 33, said his family has had a lot of support from the Taiwanese community in Florida.
“People have been so kind to me.
I think the Chinese community has been really nice to me,” he added.
“My kids were born here.
They’re my only children.
I’m very grateful to the Chinese people.”
The government has made no changes to the law since 2012, but Chen said it’s a step in the right direction.
“Now I feel a little bit better.
I feel like my name is more correct,” he concluded.