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'Pride of Hainan': Online interest in PM Lawrence Wong's ancestral ties surges in China

'Pride of Hainan': Online interest in PM Lawrence Wong's ancestral ties surges in China
Snippets of PM Lawrence Wong's speeches over the years have resurfaced as netizens in China celebrate his inauguration.
PHOTO: Douyin

Newly minted Prime Minister Lawrence Wong has got more in common with your plate of chicken rice than you think — and it's not just his humble beginnings.

Singaporeans cheered and applauded when PM Wong was sworn in on Wednesday (May 15).

But it appears that Chinese social media also had a field day celebrating his inauguration — because of his Hainanese roots. His late father was born in Hainan and moved to Malaysia as a boy. 

In one video by Chinese-language news publication RedAnts, a banner congratulating PM Wong is seen hung across the front of the archway of the Huang ancestral hall in Wenchang, Hainan. 

The hall is said to be his ancestral home, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Thursday. His surname in Chinese is Huang.


Many other videos circulating on Chinese social media platform Douyin also explore Wong's ancestral ties to China.

For instance, a 10-minute video, also by RedAnts, shows a visit to the ancestral hall in Wenchang, complete with a tour and a short interview with a woman who claimed to be PM Wong's "cousin". The video has gained over 3,000 likes and more than 270 comments.

Another 28-second snippet, taken from a year-old episode of 8world's Be My Guest series, has PM Wong sharing his Hainanese heritage. That video has over 4,400 likes and 240 comments.

'The pride of Hainan'

Similarly, some videos also picked out snippets of speeches made by PM Wong about his upbringing and past.

In one clip featuring a speech from November 2022, he talks about how his father, who died in 2021, had to "eke out a living" as a first-generation immigrant from China.

On Douyin, netizens praised PM Wong as a "hardworking Chinese", while others applauded the Singapore government.

One commented: "Wenchang has many talents, including politicians, generals, scientific and technological minds, and business elites."

Praised another: "Him saying that he's from Hainan is respectable. How rare it is that someone who's succeeded hasn't forgotten about his roots!"

"Wong really is the pride of Hainan," another user said.

Some also expressed a level of kinship because they share the same Chinese surname —  Huang —  with PM Wong.

"My goodness, the Singapore prime minister's father and my grandfather both share the same name - not a letter different," one user said.

Seen as Chinese son at home and abroad

Luwei Rose Luqiu, associate professor at Hong Kong's Baptist University's Department of Journalism, noted that Thailand's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra — whose great-grandfather was an immigrant from Guangdong — had also attracted similar interest among Chinese netizens.

There is a sense of pride when they see a person of Chinese descent lead a foreign country, Luqiu told SCMP. Thaksin and PM Wong are both seen as "Chinese sons and daughters at home and abroad", he added.

Managing director of Chinese-language publication Singapore Eye Koh Chin Yee told SCMP that it was not surprising for the Hainan Wenchang Huang clan to celebrate PM Wong's inauguration.

"It would worry me if the community in Wenchang chooses to ignore this important chapter, which is equally relevant to both Singapore and Wenchang," he added.

ALSO READ: 'A story of possibilities': PM Lawrence Wong says both he and Singapore have come far, but there's 'much more to do'

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