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  • Gordon Dumoulin

'Being Chinese' challenged in the sidelines

When Dong Desheng (董德升), a farmer from China’s Northeastern Heilongjiang province, started to livestream on the video platform Kuaishou (快手, also known as Kwai), he quickly caught widespread attention. Dong shares his everyday life: the freezing winters, the yellow weasels that invade his fields, and traditional Chinese family reunions.

But unlike the vast majority of Chinese nationals who are of Han descent, the Heilongjiang native does not look “Chinese” at all. Better known as “Uncle Petrov” (彼得大叔), Dong Desheng is among 15,000 ethnic Russian-descent citizens living in China, most for already more than three generations.

His great-grandparents — the Petrovs — fled Russia at the height of the October Revolution, crossing the Amur River. When the Russian great-grandmother remarried, to a man from China’s Shandong province, the family adopted the Han surname of Dong (董). Three generations later, the Heilongjiang farmer speaks no Russian, is married to a Han woman, has two children, and sells his hometown specialties for a living.

See Uncle Petrov's spring festival moments on youtube here

Dong’s unsophisticated humor and unconstrained optimism have helped him build over a million followers on Kuaishou, but undoubtedly at least some of his fans are there for the novelty of seeing a Russian-looking Chinese man speak perfect northeastern Chinese dialect (dongbeihua).

Some openly wonder in the comments how he mastered the language and whether he was mixed-race. Learn more about uncle Petrov and see his videos in following article by Radii China and the challenges of being ethnic in China ;

#china #chinese #ethnic #culture

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