Written by Phillip Hong

Print this

Not yet published

You can be proud of being Chinese but what's the definition?

I am reminded of the stories my grandmother told me about the history of China; she expects all of us Canadian-born offspring to memorise and respect the history of our "homeland". But what is it anyways? I was born into an Overseas Chinese family that has not seen China as their home for several decades now.

Figure this out: A lot of Chinese immigrated to other countries because of economic opportunities, while others go due to political differences between their beliefs and the government in power at the time. My family seems staunchly supportive of (now) Taiwan's Nationalist Party, who previously ruled in Mainland China. For those of you who don't know, this caused the current crisis between the Taiwan Straits. A civil war ended in the current status quo.

Anyways, for those who emigrated due to political indifference I have believed that they would conform to their new "homelands". In fact, it's not hard to say that you're homeland is outside China yet your "motherland" is. I've always wondered if Chinese currently residing there have the same beliefs, same cultural structure as we do trying to absorb "the glorious history of China" from our parents and grandparents.

I always consider myself as Overseas Chinese before I consider myself Chinese, but I use both definitions.

It seems that growing up a Chinese-Canadian (and Overseas Chinese in general) is quite different to Chinese living in China; we have to satisfy two cultures. I have to make sure that I conform to others living in Canada or I would be classified as weird but at the same time I have to make sure that I approach those of the staunchest patriotic blood as a Chinese person, read, written and spoken, or I'd be labelled a "banana" or other silly definition.

I think most Overseas Chinese can relate to growing up to whatever their parents or grandparents thought was China; for me, my parents and eventually I had to learn of the Sanmin Doctrine of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and how a Nationalist China was a good one, though I certainly have no idea to agree or not. I learned Traditional rather than Simplified written Chinese and spoke Cantonese and Guoyu (roughly translated as "the national language") which is what some older Chinese call Mandarin.

Overseas Chinese carry a distinct culture from those of their predecessors. It's a fact.

No matter what I still have it in my blood.

I have to realise that there are some Overseas Chinese who care less about their history of the motherland, and some who weren't taught (or didn't learn) their culturally native tongue. But I for sure do not carry the same staunch values as my grandmother. As she says, "every Chinese must learn Chinese". And she usually says it in times I don't like learning the language.

But I do think the Nationalist Party flag looks nice. Good uniform colour. Otherwise I'll figure out their politik later in life.

« Return to your writers' desk


46 readers are online right now!

Go to top

We use cookies to give you the best experience, this includes cookies from third party websites and advertisers.

Continue ? Find out more