Ancestry and the ambiguity of the word “Chinese”

Great piece!
Proudly and loudly: I am a Hong Konger! Not Chinese!

Just Another Hong Konger

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…

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