Chinese people

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Countries with a significant population with Chinese ancestry.

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Greater China (mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan)
+ 1,000,000
+ 100,000
+ 10,000
+ 1,000 Map of the Chinese Diaspora in the World.svg
Countries with a significant population with Chinese ancestry.
  Greater China (mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan)
  + 1,000,000
  + 100,000
  + 10,000
  + 1,000

The Chinese people or simply Chinese, are people or ethnic groups identified with China, usually through ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, or other affiliation. [1]


Chinese people are known as Zhongguoren (simplified Chinese :中国人; traditional Chinese :中國人) or as Huaren (simplified Chinese :华人; traditional Chinese :華人) by Chinese language speakers, including those living in Greater China as well as overseas Chinese. Although both terms both refer to Chinese people, their usage depends on the person and context. The former term is commonly used to refer to the citizens of the People's Republic of China - especially mainland China. [2] [3] [4] [5] The term Huaren is used to refer to ethnic Chinese, and is more often used for those who reside overseas or are non-citizens of China.

The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group in China, comprising approximately 92% of its Mainland population. [6] They comprise approximately 95% of the population of Taiwan, [7] [8] 92% in Hong Kong, [9] and 89% in Macau. [10] [11] [ better source needed ] They are also the world's largest ethnic group, comprising approximately 18% of the global human population. [12] [13]

Outside China, the terms "Han Chinese" and "Chinese" are often conflated since those identifying or registered as Han Chinese are the dominant ethnic group in China. [14] [15] There are 55 officially-recognized ethnic minorities in China who may also identify as "Chinese".

People from Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), may also be referred to as "Chinese" in various contexts, though they are usually referred to as "Taiwanese". The territory of Taiwan is disputed and the ROC has limited recognition of its sovereignty.

The term "Overseas Chinese" is used to refer to people of Chinese origin living overseas as well as Chinese citizens residing outside China, but more commonly the former.

Ethnic groups in China and associated territories

Portion of a mural in Beijing depicting the 56 recognized ethnic groups of China Beijing-Niujie-Minzu-Tuanjie-Da-Jiating-3666.jpg
Portion of a mural in Beijing depicting the 56 recognized ethnic groups of China

A number of ethnic groups within China, as well as people elsewhere with ancestry in the region, may be referred to as Chinese people. [16]

Ethnic groups in China

Han Chinese people, the largest ethnic group in China, are often referred to as "Chinese" or "ethnic Chinese" in English. [14] [15] [17] The Han Chinese also form a majority or notable minority in other countries, and they comprise approximately 18% of the global human population. [12] [13]

Other ethnic groups in China include the Zhuang, Hui, Manchus, Uyghurs, and Miao, who make up the five largest ethnic minorities in mainland China, with populations of approximately 10 million or more. In addition, the Yi, Tujia, Tibetans and Mongols each have populations between five and ten million.

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), recognizes 56 native Chinese ethnic groups. There are also several unrecognized ethnic groups in China.

Ethnic groups in the Qing dynasty of China (1644–1911)

During the Qing dynasty the term "Chinese people" (Chinese:中國之人; lit. 'People of China'Zhōngguó zhī rén; Manchu: Dulimbai gurun i niyalma) was used by the Qing government to refer to all traditionally native subjects of the empire, including Han, Manchu, and Mongols. [18]

Zhonghua minzu (the "Chinese nation")

Zhonghua minzu (simplified Chinese :中华民族; traditional Chinese :中華民族; pinyin :Zhōnghuá Mínzú), the "Chinese nation", is a supra-ethnic concept which includes all 56 ethnic groups living in China that are officially recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China. It includes established ethnic groups who have lived within the borders of China since at least the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). [19] The term zhonghua minzu was used during the Republic of China from 1911 to 1949 to refer to five primary ethnic groups [lower-alpha 1] in China. [20] The term zhongguo renmin (Chinese :中国人民), "Chinese people", was the government's preferred term during the life of Mao Zedong; zhonghua minzu is more common in recent decades. [21]

Ethnic groups in Taiwan

The Amis people are an indigenous Taiwanese ethnic group. Taiwan aborigine amis dance.jpg
The Amis people are an indigenous Taiwanese ethnic group.

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), recognizes 17 native Taiwanese ethnic groups as well as numerous other "New Immigrant" ethnic groups (mostly originating from Mainland China and Southeast Asia). Of the 17 native Taiwanese ethnic groups, 16 are considered to be indigenous (Taiwanese indigenous peoples), [22] whereas one is considered to be non-native (Han Taiwanese). [23] There are also several unrecognized indigenous ethnic groups in Taiwan.

The Han Taiwanese, who are Han Chinese people living in Taiwan, are usually categorized by the Taiwanese government into three main ethnic groups; the Taiwanese Hoklos, Taiwanese Hakkas, and waishengren (i.e. "Mainland Chinese people in Taiwan"). The Kinmenese and Matsunese peoples are two other significant Han Taiwanese ethnic groups.

The Hoklos and Hakkas are both considered to be "native" populations of Taiwan since they first began migrating to Taiwan in significant numbers from mainland China (mostly from Fujian and Guangdong) over 400 years ago (they first began migrating to Taiwan in minor numbers several centuries earlier). They are often collectively referred to in Taiwanese Mandarin as "Benshengren" (meaning "people from this province"). The Hoklos comprise approximately 70% of Taiwan's total population and the Hakkas comprise approximately 14% of Taiwan's total population.

Meanwhile, the so-called Mainlanders (Taiwanese) are mostly descended from people who migrated from mainland China to Taiwan during the 1940s and 1950s, usually in the context of the Second World War, Second Sino-Japanese War, and Chinese Civil War. They are often referred to in Taiwanese Mandarin as "Waishengren" (meaning "people from outside of this province"). The Mainlanders (Taiwanese) comprise approximately 14% of Taiwan's total population.

Collectively, the various Taiwanese indigenous peoples comprise approximately 2% of Taiwan's total population. The various Taiwanese indigenous peoples are believed to have been living in Taiwan for up to 6000 years prior to the colonization of Taiwan by China which began during the 17th century (CE).

Recognition by the Chinese government

The Han Taiwanese, Native Taiwanese (Benshengren), Hoklo Taiwanese, Hakka Taiwanese, Mainlander Taiwanese (Waishengren), Kinmenese, and Matsunese ethnic groups (all subtypes or branches of the Han Chinese ethnic group) are all unrecognized by the Chinese government. Furthermore, the sixteen Taiwanese indigenous peoples that are officially recognized by the Taiwanese government are also all unrecognized by the Chinese government. The Chinese government also doesn't recognize the ethnic designation "New Immigrant".

The Chinese government instead has its own ethnic designations for Taiwanese people. Han Taiwanese people are considered to be Han Chinese people (no distinction is made), whereas the various recognized and unrecognized (by Taiwan) Taiwanese indigenous peoples are collectively recognized (by China) to be "Gaoshanren" (i.e. "High Mountain People"). The Gaoshanren are one of the 56 officially-recognized ethnic groups of China.

Nationality, citizenship and residence

Tibetans in Qinghai People of Tibet46.jpg
Tibetans in Qinghai
Hui people in Xinjiang HuiChineseMuslim3.jpg
Hui people in Xinjiang

The Nationality law of the People's Republic of China regulates nationality within the PRC. A person obtains nationality either by birth when at least one parent is of Chinese nationality or by naturalization. All people holding nationality of the People's Republic of China are citizens of the Republic. [24] The Resident Identity Card is the official form of identification for residents of the People's Republic of China.

Within the People's Republic of China, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport or Macao Special Administrative Region passport may be issued to permanent residents of Hong Kong or Macao, respectively.

The Nationality law of the Republic of China regulates nationality within the Republic of China (Taiwan). A person obtains nationality either by birth or by naturalization. A person with at least one parent who is a national of the Republic of China, or born in the ROC to stateless parents qualifies for nationality by birth. [25]

The National Identification Card is an identity document issued to people who have household registration in Taiwan. The Resident Certificate is an identification card issued to residents of the Republic of China who do not hold a National Identification Card.

The relationship between ROC nationality and PRC nationality is disputed. [26]

Overseas Chinese

Chinatown, Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World and the oldest Chinatown in the Southern Hemisphere. Melbourne China Town.jpg
Chinatown, Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World and the oldest Chinatown in the Southern Hemisphere.

Overseas Chinese refers to people of Chinese ethnicity or national heritage who live outside the People's Republic of China or Taiwan as the result of the continuing diaspora. [31] People with one or more Chinese ancestors may consider themselves overseas Chinese. [32] Such people vary widely in terms of cultural assimilation. In some areas throughout the world ethnic enclaves known as Chinatowns are home to populations of overseas Chinese.

In Southeast Asia, people of Chinese descent call themselves 華人 (Huárén) instead of (中國人Zhōngguórén) which commonly refers to the citizens of the People's Republic of China or the Republic of China. [33] This is especially so in the Chinese communities of Southeast Asia. The term Zhongguoren has a more political or ideological aspect in its use; while many in China may use Zhongguoren to mean the Chinese ethnicity, some in Taiwan would refuse to be called Zhongguoren. [5]

See also

For countries with significant populations
For countries with noteworthy populations
Other countries with Chinese populations
Related topics of interest

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Overseas Chinese</span> Ethnic Chinese residing outside of China

Overseas Chinese refers to people of Chinese birth or ethnicity who reside outside Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. As of 2011, there were over 40.3 million overseas Chinese.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">China proper</span> Geopolitical term

China proper, Inner China or the Eighteen Provinces is a term used by some Western writers in reference to the "core" regions of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty of China. This term is used to express a distinction between the "core" regions populated by the dominant Han population and the "frontier" regions of China, sometimes known as "Outer China". There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultural, and linguistic shifts have occurred in Chinese history. One definition refers to the original area of Chinese civilization, the Central Plain ; another to the Eighteen Provinces of the Qing dynasty. There is no direct translation for "China proper" in the Chinese language due to differences in terminology used by the Qing to refer to the regions. The expression is controversial among scholars, particularly in China, due to issues pertaining to territorial integrity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mainland China</span> Geopolitical area known as the Peoples Republic of China

"Mainland China" is a geopolitical term defined as the territory governed by the People's Republic of China, excluding dependent territories of the PRC and other territories within Greater China. By convention, the territories that fall outside of the Chinese mainland include:

Ethnic minorities in China are the non-Han population in the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The names of China include the many contemporary and historical appellations given in various languages for the East Asian country known as Zhōngguó in its national language, Standard Mandarin. China, the name in English for the country, was derived from Portuguese in the 16th century, and became common usage in the West in the subsequent centuries. It is believed to be a borrowing from Middle Persian, and some have traced it further back to Sanskrit. It is also thought that the ultimate source of the name China is the Chinese word "Qin", the name of the dynasty that unified China but also existed as a state for many centuries prior. There are, however, other alternative suggestions for the origin of the word.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chinese Taipei</span> Name used by Taiwan in international organizations and events

"Chinese Taipei" is the term used in various international organizations and tournaments for groups or delegations representing the Republic of China (ROC), a sovereign state commonly known as Taiwan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Autonomous administrative divisions of China</span> Divisions designated as autonomous within the Peoples Republic of China

Chinese autonomous administrative divisions are associated with one or more ethnic minorities that are designated as autonomous within the People's Republic of China. These areas are recognized in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and are nominally given a number of rights not accorded to other administrative divisions of China. For example, Tibetan minorities in autonomous regions are granted rights and support not given to the Han Chinese, such as fiscal and medical subsidies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Huaxia</span> Historical concept of China

Huaxia is a historical concept representing the Chinese nation, and came from the self-awareness of a common cultural ancestry by the various confederations of pre-Qin ethnic ancestors of Han people.

The subgroups of the Han Chinese people are defined based on linguistic, cultural, ethnic, genetic and regional features. The terminology used in Mandarin to describe the groups is: "minxi", used in Mainland China or "zuqun", used in Taiwan. No Han subgroup is recognized as one of People's Republic of China's 56 official ethnic groups. Scholars like James W. Hayes have described the Han Chinese subgroups as "ethnic groups" outright, at least in the context of Hong Kong society.

A number of ethnic groups of the People's Republic of China are not officially recognized. Taken together, these groups would constitute the twentieth most populous ethnic group of China. Some scholars have estimated that there are over 200 distinct ethnic groups that inhabit China, compared to 56 groups are officially recognized. There are in addition small distinct ethnic groups that have been classified as part of larger ethnic groups that are officially recognized. Some groups, like the Hui of Xinjiang with the Hui of Fujian, are geographically and culturally separate, except for the shared belief of Islam. Han Chinese, being the world's largest ethnic group, has a large diversity within it, such as in Gansu, whose Han individuals may have genetic traits from the assimilated Tangut civilization. Although they are indigenous to Hainan island and do not speak a Chinese language, the Limgao (Ong-Be) people near the capital are counted as Han Chinese.

Taiwanese people may be generally considered the people of Taiwan who share a common culture, ancestry and speak Taiwanese Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka or indigenous Taiwanese languages as a mother tongue. Taiwanese people may also refer to the indigenous peoples of the areas under the control of the Government of the Republic of China since 1945, including Penghu as well as Kinmen and Matsu Islands that collectively form its streamlined Fujian Province. However, the inhabitants of Kinmen and the Matsu themselves may not consider the "Taiwanese" label to be accurate as they are a part of Fujian and not Taiwan. They have a distinctive identity from that of the Taiwanese; viewing themselves as Kinmenese or Matsunese, respectively, or as simply Chinese.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taiwan passport</span> Passport of the Republic of China (Taiwan) issued to Taiwanese citizens

The Republic of China (Taiwan) passport is the passport issued to nationals of the Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan. The ROC passport is also generally referred to as a Taiwanese passport. As of September 2020, approximately 60.87 percent of Taiwanese citizens possess a valid passport.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chinese nationality law</span> History and regulations of Chinese citizenship

Chinese nationality law details the conditions by which a person holds nationality of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The primary law governing these requirements is the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China, which came into force on September 10, 1980.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Demographics of Taiwan</span> Demographics of country

The population of Taiwan is approximately 23.19 million as of September 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Republic of China calendar</span> Calender used in Taiwan

The Republic of China calendar, often shortened to the ROC calendar or the Minguo calendar, is a calendar used in Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu. The calendar uses 1912, the year of the establishment of the Republic of China (ROC), as the first year.

<i>Zhonghua minzu</i> Political term in modern Chinese nationalism

Zhonghua minzu is a political term in modern Chinese nationalism related to the concepts of nation-building, ethnicity, and race in the Chinese nationality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plains indigenous peoples</span> Indigenous people of Taiwan

Plains indigenous peoples, previously called plain aborigines, are Taiwanese indigenous peoples originally residing in lowland regions, as opposed to Highland indigenous peoples. Plains indigenous peoples consist of anywhere from eight to twelve individual groups, or tribes, rather than being a single ethnic group. They are part of the Austronesian family. Beginning in the 17th century, plains indigenous peoples have been heavily influenced by external forces from Dutch, Spanish, and Han Chinese immigration to Taiwan. This ethnic group has since been extensively assimilated with Han Chinese language and culture; they have lost their cultural identity and it is almost impossible without careful inspection to distinguish plains indigenous peoples from Taiwanese Han people.

Han Taiwanese, Taiwanese Han, Taiwanese Han Chinese, or Han Chinese are Taiwanese people of full or partial ethnic Han descent. According to the Executive Yuan of Taiwan, they comprise 95 to 97 percent of the Taiwanese population, which also includes Austronesians and other non-Han people. Major waves of Han immigration occurred since the 17th century to the end of Chinese Civil War in 1949, with the exception of the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945). Han Taiwanese mainly speak three languages of Chinese: Mandarin, Hokkien and Hakka.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fujian–Taiwan relationship</span> Relations between Taiwan and the mainland Chinese province of Fujian

The Fujian–Taiwan relations, also known as the Min–Tai relations, refers to the relationship between Fujian, which is located in mainland China, and Taiwan, which is across the Taiwan Strait. Since the average width of the Taiwan Strait is 180 kilometers, Fujian and Taiwan are adjacent, similar in both climate and environment. Although the relationship between Taiwan and Fujian has changed with the development of history, the two places have maintained close relations in terms of personnel, economy, military, culture and other aspects. At present, Taiwan residents are mostly descendants of immigrants from mainland China, of which the southern Fujian ethnic group is the main group, accounting for 73.5% of Taiwan's total population. In terms of culture, language, religion, and customs, Fujian and Taiwan also share similarities.


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  1. The Han, the Manchu, the Mongols, the Hui (applied to Muslims as a whole), and the Tibetans.