HomeTop StoriesTikToker's claim that ethnic Chinese Singaporeans don't like being called Chinese is...

TikToker’s claim that ethnic Chinese Singaporeans don’t like being called Chinese is sparking debate


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

Most important points:

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

  • The TikTok user, believed to be originally from China, expressed his surprise at Singaporeans of Chinese descent who don’t like being called Chinese.

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

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

The details:

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“When I first came to Singapore, I thought that Singaporeans and I share the same heritage. I then said to a Singaporean, “Aren’t we all compatriots?” “I didn’t know that 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 not to bring up the subject again. “They prefer to be called Singaporeans. With the passage of time, they have forgotten their culture and also their roots,” he added.

  • At the time of writing, the video has been viewed more than 150,000 times and generated almost 2,000 comments.

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

  • However, others were against it and emphasized the distinction between nationality and ethnicity. They argued that Singaporeans, with their unique cultural identities, prefer to be recognized as such.

  • Some viewers completely refuted the video’s claim, suggesting that some Singaporeans still recognize their Chinese ethnicity and only prioritize their Singaporean nationality.

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The big picture:

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

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