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Will a citizen of the People's Republic of China be declared a 2019 Nobel Prize winner?

The People's Republic of China (PRC) is the most populous country in the world, with 1.4 billion inhabitants. It is also the second-largest economy in the world by GDP.

However, the number of people who have won Nobel Prizes and who were PRC citizens at the time they won their prize is very small: under the strictest definition, only three people meet these criteria. They were awarded prizes in 2010, 2012 and 2015.

This question asks the following:

When the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prizes are officially announced, will one of the them be a current citizen of the PRC?

For the purposes of this question:

  • In addition to the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences is also considered a "Nobel Prize"

  • Both of the two Nobel Prizes in Literature that will be awarded in 2019 will be considered as a "2019 Nobel Prize", unless the organisation specifically names one of them as being a 2018 Nobel Prize

  • A Chinese citizen being one of two or three people who share a Nobel Prize in 2019 will meet resolution criteria

  • If an organisation of more than three people wins a Nobel Prize – as occurred for the Peace Prizes in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017 – it will not meet the criteria for positive resolution, even if the organisation is based in China and staffed entirely by Chinese citizens

  • In the unlikely event that a new Prize category is awarded in 2019, and that this Prize is officially listed as a Prize on the Nobel Prize website, this Prize will also count as a "Nobel Prize", even if, as for Economic Sciences, the Prize is described as a "Nobel Memorial Prize" or similar


  • It is difficult to simultaneously hold Chinese citizenship and citizenship of another country. According to the Nationality Law of the PRC:

    • "Any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who has been naturalized as a foreign national or has acquired foreign nationality of his own free will shall automatically lose Chinese nationality."

    • "Any person born abroad whose parents are both Chinese nationals and [sic - I presume "or" would be more accurate] one of whose parents is a Chinese national shall have Chinese nationality. But a person whose parents are both Chinese nationals and have both settled abroad, or one of whose parents is a Chinese national and has settled abroad, and who has acquired foreign nationality at birth shall not have Chinese nationality."

  • As mentioned above, only three Nobel laureates were PRC citizens at the time of their award. However, the two winners of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics represent an interesting edge case. They were both born in the Republic of China, the state that ruled over mainland China prior to the PRC, and were citizens of that country. However, they moved abroad a few years before the formation of the PRC was declared by Mao Zedong in 1949, and thus did not acquire PRC citizenship. Technically, they remained citizens of the Republic of China.

  • The process for nominating people for a Nobel Prize has already begun. If the linked schedule is correct for this year, winners will be announced by each Nobel Committee in early October 2019, and the award ceremony will be held in December 2019. The resolution criteria are focused on the time of the announcement, rather than the time of the award ceremony.

  • The names of nominees cannot be publicly revealed by the Nobel Committees for each prize until "50 years later"; however, people who nominate others for a Nobel Prize sometimes do divulge who they have nominated, particularly for the Peace Prize.


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