I am More Chinese than You: Online Narratives of Locals and Migrants in Singapore


Migrants from mainland China now make up nearly a million of Singapore’s total population of 5.4 million, an influx unprecedented since the nineteenth century. This has compelled both locals and migrants to (re)think their Chinese-ness. Simultaneously, the state produces its hegemonic version of Chinese-ness with Mandarin as an important signifier. This discourse has been increasingly challenged by residents with the advent of the internet as a platform for alternative views. This article suggests that by endorsing Singaporean state discourse that defines Chinese authenticity as Mandarin proficiency, Chinese migrants deride Chinese-Singaporeans as less Chinese, and therein less Singaporean. In defence, Chinese-Singaporeans appear to present a united front by deriding Chinese migrants’ deficiency in the English language. I argue that, to the contrary, Chinese-Singaporeans’ online narratives show fragmentation within the group.


Singapore; Chinese-ness; migration; digital ethnography; co-ethnics

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/csr.v23i1.5497