Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) French TV host Remy Gils, who has dedicated himself to preserving local languages in Taiwan, has expressed his gratitude for getting Taiwanese citizenship as a high-level professional without having to relinquish his French nationality.
The 41-year-old Gils received his Taiwan ID card and took to Facebook on Oct. 15 to share his joy, saying he cried a bit because obtaining dual citizenship was not easy. He thanked the central and Kaohsiung city governments, as well as his wife Chiang Pei-ching (江佩靜).
"I am very grateful to the Taiwanese for giving me the opportunity to live on this beautiful island. Let's make Taiwan shine," Gils said in the post, which was written in Chinese.
Born in Provence, Gils came to Taiwan in 2006 and served as a volunteer in Hualien, where he visited several Indigenous villages and became fascinated with their languages and cultures.
He decided to learn and study the languages, and later published three books in French over the next five years on the Taiwanese, Bunun, and Amis languages.
In 2019, Gils, whose Chinese name (吉雷米) sounds similar to "a grain of rice" in Taiwanese, became the first foreign national to host a TV program in Taiwanese when he hosted the Public Television Service show "Sightseeing by Bus," (無事坐巴士) which was nominated for Golden Bell Awards in 2020 and 2021.
The recipient of several awards from the National Immigration Agency, he is also an avid runner who once carried a giant puppet of Nezha, a Chinese deity, while jogging around the island in 2013.
His tour of Taiwan catapulted him to fame and earned him the nickname "French Nezha."
The Qieding District Household Registration Office said in a statement Tuesday that Gils, who resides in Kaohsiung, was the first foreign national in northern Kaohsiung to receive Taiwanese citizenship without giving up his original citizenship since the Nationality Act was amended in 2016.
According to the statement, the approval was based on Gils' dedication to preserving and promoting local languages and cultures in Taiwan, promoting multicultural soft power, and improving Taiwan's international visibility.
Before the 2016 amendment to the Nationality Act took effect in 2017, all foreign nationals were required to give up their original citizenship if they were naturalized as Taiwanese.
Since then, 198 foreign nationals who qualified as high-level professionals have been granted Taiwanese citizenship and allowed to have dual nationality.