TikToker's claim that ethnically Chinese Singaporeans dislike being called Chinese sparks debate


A TikTok video of a Chinese man lamenting over ethnically Chinese Singaporeans rejecting their Chinese roots has reignited a debate about national identity in Singapore.

Key points:

  • The 36-second video, which was posted on May 7, is narrated in Mandarin with English subtitles.

  • The TikTok user, believed to be originally from China, expressed surprise over Singaporeans of Chinese descent who dislike being referred to as Chinese.

  • In the comments, some Singaporeans defended their right to firstly identify as Singaporean with a distinct cultural identity separate from mainland China.

  • Meanwhile, others argued that acknowledging their Chinese ethnicity is compatible with being Singaporean.

The details:

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  • TikTok user @thesingaporeanson shared his initial belief that Chinese Singaporeans recognize their Chinese origin. However, encounters with locals eventually shattered that assumption.

“When I first came to Singapore, I thought Singaporeans and I share the same ancestry. I then said to a Singaporean: ‘Aren’t we all compatriots?’ “Little did I know, the Singaporean’s face turned black: ‘Since when are we compatriots? I’m Singaporean, not Chinese!’”

  • He said such conversations left him shocked, so he decided to avoid bringing up the subject again. “They prefer to be called Singaporeans. With the passing of time, they have forgotten their culture and also their roots,” he added.

  • As of this writing, the video has received over 150,000 views and generated nearly 2,000 comments.

  • TikTok users chimed in with various perspectives, with some highlighting that Chinese Singaporeans share the same ancestry as mainland China.

  • Others, however, opposed and highlighted the distinction between nationality and ethnicity. They argued that Singaporeans, with their unique cultural identity, prefer to be recognized as such.

  • Some viewers refuted the video's claim entirely, suggesting that some Singaporeans still acknowledge their Chinese ethnicity and only prioritize their Singaporean nationality.

The big picture:

  • Singapore, a Southeast Asian nation known for its racial diversity, has a population that is over 74% Chinese. However, Singaporean culture has distinguished itself over generations, and this cultural identity has become a source of pride for many Singaporeans.


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