In Chinese culture there is the concept of an “ancestral home” or 鄉下 in Cantonese. But how is this defined? My father was born in Hong Kong. Is that my 鄉下? My father’s father was born in Dongguan. Is that my 鄉下? The first Chans were originally from the state of Chen, near present-day Zhoukou, Henan. Is that my 鄉下? How many generations does one go back?Seeing that my granddad came from the PRC, and his dad was born in “China”, and so on and so on back to before the founding of the Qin state itself (never mind that the idea of a Chinese entity transcending the change of dynasties is a relatively new concept), one may say that I am Chinese. But if we consider anyone with “Chinese” ancestry to be Chinese, we start running into problems. Looking at just the surname Chan, we will find that the character is also the origin of the Vietnamese surname Tran, as in the Tran dynasty emperors, and the Korean surname Jin, as in South Korean athlete Jin Sun-Yu (진선유/陳善有), who won 3 Olympic gold medals for her country in 2006 in speed skating. Would one, based on her surname, conclude that she is “Chinese”?
We also have, of course, the Tans of Singapore (from the Hokkien pronunciation), for example current President Tony Tan Keng Yam (陳慶炎). While irrefutably of Chinese descent, having once been the CEO of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, he and other “Chinese” Singaporeans are not Chinese citizens. This is the problem of confounding ethnicity with nationality by using the term “Chinese” to refer to both. Thus Tibetans and Uyghurs in China are “Chinese” despite their ethnicity (and the fact they are heavily oppressed by the Han majority), while people like Vancouver broadcast journalist Cindy Leong, whose father, father’s mother, and father’s mother’s father all lived in Canada, are “Chinese” despite their nationality and long history outside of China.
This ambiguity of the word “Chinese” is a major problem in Hong Kong when PRC Chinese use the phrases “we are all Chinese” and “blood is thicker than water” to silence critics of the CCP regime. It is worth noting that Hong Kong was primarily built by refugees from the CCP. Why should Hong Kongers be expected to show any loyalty to the entity that they and their forefathers came here to escape in the first place? Most post-handover immigrants, on the other hand, are CCP loyalists (how else do they get priority under the 150 daily quota?). They have come not to become Hong Kongers, but instead to make Hong Kong more and more Chinese.
I have been to my grandfather’s home in Dongguan as a kid, but I don’t remember much about it. I don’t have any ties to the place, I don’t know anyone from that place other than my grandpa, and I have absolutely zero emotional attachment to that place. Truth be told, I don’t feel much attachment to the man himself, who currently spends most of his time back in his place of birth. To me, the idea that I am “from” Dongguan simply because my grandfather was born there is quite absurd.
The CCP have made it so that Chinese ancestry = “Chinese” = PRC Chinese and loyalty to “the Chinese” = loyalty to the PRC = loyalty to the CCP. Anyone who denies these equalities is seen as a traitor of “the Chinese”, a 漢奸. So call me a 漢奸. I don’t care.