SINGAPORE: Over three-quarters of Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents are ethnically Chinese, but many appear to prefer to be identified by country rather than ethnicity, a TikTok user found out.

In a video that went viral last week, a tourist from China narrated how when he came to Singapore, his idea that the Chinese and Singaporeans are “compatriots” was quickly debunked by the Singaporeans he spoke to.

The video, posted on The Singaporean Son‘s account on May 7, has since been viewed over 157,000 times and received many comments and reactions.


Singaporean Chinese are not Chinese? #singapore #sgtiktok #tiktoksg

♬ original sound – The Singaporean Son – The Singaporean Son

The TikTok user asked, “Singaporean Chinese are not Chinese?” before writing, “Singaporeans dislike being called Chinese.”

“I’m a Singaporean, not Chinese,” said one man he spoke to, reportedly growing upset over the implication.

“I was stunned,” said the tourist, adding that after this encounter, he stopped making such comments “because Singaporeans dislike being called Chinese.”

“They prefer to be called Singaporeans. With the passing of time, they have forgotten their culture and also their roots!” he lamented.

And while some commenters on the video defended the man who posted it, saying it was a “fact” that many Singaporeans trace their origins back to China, others argued that today, Singaporeans have their own culture, lifestyle, and experiences.

Another argued that in the same way that there are Singaporean Chinese, there are also Malaysian Chinese, Indonesian Chinese, and Thai Chinese, all of whom have descended from China Chinese, perhaps underlining that this is by no means a phenomenon unique to Singapore.

One TikTok user pointed out that “Singapore is a country, and all that is born in Singapore are Singaporean,” regardless of ethnicity.

Another agreed, writing that it’s “perfectly okay to be called Singaporean Chinese; we are from different races living harmoniously next to each other.”

Funnily enough, in the video, The Singaporean Son flashed a picture of TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi, who is Singaporean and who was famously questioned repeatedly by a US Senator earlier this year whether he was, in fact, Chinese.

The South China Morning Post recently quoted a senior fellow for social cohesion research at the Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, eong Chan-Hoong, as saying:

“For a long time, Singapore has been confused as being a part of China, and that comes mainly from Europe and North American societies …

That primarily is because the two share a significant similarity in heritage and Singapore being a majority-Chinese country, so there is that tendency to perceive it as an allegiance.”

Read also: TikTok CEO repeatedly tells US Senator, ‘I’m Singaporean,’ while he was repeatedly asked if he has ties with China

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