Chinese Capital as a Cultural Object: Self-Identification and Filipino-Chinese Discourses on Sinicization, Brokerage, and Distinction

In: Translocal Chinese: East Asian Perspectives
Alvin Jason Camba Assistant Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA,

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Shirley Lung PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA,

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Our article analyzes how Chinese capital inflows in the Philippines shape the self-identification of Filipino Chinese. Through a discursive analysis of five Filipino Chinese social media groups, which comprise at least 25,000 members, we argue that comment writers in Filipino Chinese groups readily interpreted Chinese capital in the Philippines, particularly in relation to the South China Sea disputes, Rodrigo Duterte’s rapprochement with China, Xi Jinping’s Philippine visit, and the rise of online gambling, through the prism of culture-based idioms. We find three contradictory discourses. First, there is a discourse of Sinicization that defines Filipino Chinese through a singular definition of Chineseness. Second, a discourse of brokerage has emerged, wherein Filipino Chinese positionality is represented by a synthesis of Chinese, Filipino, and Western identities. Finally, a discourse of distinction has also grown, framing Filipino Chinese as different from the mainland Chinese and the Filipinos.

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