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I've observed situations like this occurring to a friend of mine (let's call him X):

Stranger: Where are you from?
X: [insert southeast asian country here]
Stranger: Are you sure?
...

On very rare occasions, people are more direct/rude, and they'll ask this instead:

Stranger: Are you sure? Aren't you from China/Japan/Korea?

The most comical situation I've witnessed:

Stranger: Where are you from?
X: [insert southeast asian country here]
...
Stranger: [insert question about China/Japan/Korea]
X: I don't know. I'm from [insert southeast asian country here].
...
Stranger: [insert question about China/Japan/Korea]
X: I'm not from China/Japan/Korea.
Stranger: Oh. Then where are you from?

X is ethnically Chinese. His family left China sometime in the 1700s-1800s, and they settled in different parts of Southeast Asia, and later, in different parts of the world.

I'm wondering if there are appropriate responses to such situations. How can one deal with people who do not believe where one claims to be from? Do you repeat yourself? Do you repeat yourself more than twice? Do you give a better/longer default answer when others ask where you're from?

(Note: To X, there is no problem. He seems to think that these situations are normal, but I'm asking out of curiosity because "home" is central to the identities of most people, and it must be rather confusing when others don't believe that your home is where you claim it is).

EDIT: X is really from Southeast Asia. He lived in the region for most of his life, and so did his parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, etc. He now lives in Canada on a long-term, but temporary basis (i.e. he has definite plans to leave). The situations shown above come from conversations in Canada, and in conversations in the U.S. when we were traveling together.

closed as off-topic by Ælis, gparyani, Rainbacon, NVZ, Em C Apr 22 at 14:39

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Asking "What should I do?" is off topic. - Questions should ask for help achieving a specific goal. Your question is asking for personal advice on "what to do" without defining a goal; this is too subjective. Edit your question to explain what you hope to achieve and how you would like to interact with the others involved." – Ælis, Rainbacon, NVZ, Em C
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    Have a look at this question interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/3457/3765 I don’t think the person is not “believing” your friend, but rather wants to know whether they are “originally” from the place they state. – AsheraH Apr 20 at 21:13
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    @AsheraH Au contraire, I think the doubt is caused by the deeply ingrained belief that East Asian appearance = from China/Japan/Korea, rather than the urge to know where my friend is "originally" from. In other words, my question is about the issue of "I know you are a foreigner, but I don't believe that you're from the place you state", whereas that question is about "I really want to know which foreign country you (or your ancestors) are from". – Flux Apr 20 at 21:42
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    What is the expected outcome of the answer? Keep talking to this person or communicate a friendly version of "idiot" and make the person shut up as simply as possible? – puck Apr 21 at 8:58
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    How about simply answering the question “Where are you from?” with where he actually is from, rather than where his distant ancestors were from? If for example he was born in New York and grew up there, then just say New York. The fact that he looks Chinese is irrelevant. If people really want to know, then they should have to explicitly ask the question: “Where were your ancestors from?”. – Chris Melville Apr 21 at 9:42
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    Hi Flux, can you edit to address puck's comment above? Without knowing what you mean by "deal with" these people, almost any answer could be valid. Do you want to tell them how rude they are being, keep being friendly, something else? – Em C Apr 22 at 14:41
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If you want to deflect a rude line of questioning, you can just say "I'm from Canada, I've lived there all my life."

If you feel the need to share your family history with a pushy stranger, you can say something like "my ancestors came from what's now Thailand to Singapore around 1700 but I don't know much about that country." or even "my ancestors came from China to Malaysia around 1600 but it's a really big country with a lot of different cultures and I don't even know what part of it they were from."

You have no obligation to educate strangers about historical migration patterns.

(Source: listening to other people say similar things with good effect.)

[Added: my examples are intended to be generic, not directly related to the OP.]

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