Chinese people

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Countries with a significant population with Chinese ancestry.

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China, 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.
  China, 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]


The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group in China, comprising approximately 92% of its Mainland population. [2] They comprise approximately 95%, 92% and 89% of the population of Taiwan, [3] [4] Hong Kong, [5] and Macau respectively. [6] [7] [ better source needed ] They are also the world's largest ethnic group, comprising approximately 18% of the global human population. [8] [9]

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. [10] [11] 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.

There is also an extensive Chinese diaspora known as Overseas Chinese.

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. [12]

Ethnic groups in China

Han Chinese people, the largest ethnic group in China, are often referred to as "Chinese" or "ethnic Chinese" in English. [10] [11] [13] The Han Chinese also form a majority or notable minority in other countries, and they comprise approximately 18% of the global human population. [8] [9]

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. [14]

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). [15] The term zhonghua minzu was used during the Republic of China from 1911 to 1949 to refer to a subset of five ethnic groups in China. [16] 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. [17]

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), [18] whereas one is considered to be a colonizing population (Han Taiwanese). [19] 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. [20] 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. [21]

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. [22]

Overseas Chinese

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. [23] People with one or more Chinese ancestors may consider themselves overseas Chinese. [24] 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, Chinese people 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. [25] 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. [26]

See also

For countries with significant populations

For countries with noteworthy populations

Other countries with Chinese populations

Related topics of interest

Related Research Articles

Chinese can refer to:

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

Names of China

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 official language. China, the name in English for the country, was derived from Portuguese in the 16th century, and became popular in the mid 19th century. 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.

Huaxia Historical concept of China

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

The subgroups of the Han Chinese people, Chinese dialect groups or just dialect groups, 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 minority ethnic groups. Scholars like James W. Hayes have described the Han Chinese subgroups as "ethnic group" 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.

Chinese nationality law Nationality law of the Peoples Republic of China

Chinese nationality law details the conditions in which a person holds People's Republic of China (PRC) nationality. Foreign nationals may naturalize if they are permanent residents in any part of China or they have immediate family members who are Chinese citizens. Residents of the region of Taiwan are also considered Chinese citizens, due to the PRC's extant claim over areas controlled by the Republic of China (ROC).

Languages of Taiwan Languages of the country and its peoples

The languages of Taiwan consist of several varieties of languages under the families of Austronesian languages and Sino-Tibetan languages. The Formosan languages, a branch of Austronesian languages, have been spoken by the Taiwanese aborigines in Taiwan for thousands of years. Owing to the wide internal variety of the Formosan languages, research on historical linguistics recognizes Taiwan as the Urheimat (homeland) of the whole Austronesian languages family. In the last 400 years, several waves of Hans emigrations brought several different Sino-Tibetan languages into Taiwan. These languages include Taiwanese Hokkien, Hakka, and Mandarin, which have become the major languages spoken in Taiwan nowadays.

Demographics of Taiwan Demographics of country

The population of Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is approximately 23.45 million, spread across a total land area of about 36,000 km2; it is the seventeenth most densely populated country in the world, with a population density of about 651 inhabitants per square kilometer.

Taiwanese Australians are Australian citizens or permanent residents who carry full or partial ancestry from the East Asian island country of Taiwan or from preceding Taiwanese regimes.

Native Taiwanese, also known as Pún-síng-lâng, Han-tsî-á or Benshengren, are Taiwanese peoples who settled on the island prior or during Japanese colonization of Taiwan. Its usage is to differentiate the different culture, customs, and political sentiments within contemporary Taiwan between those who lived through World War II on the island and later migrants from China. Hoklo and Hakka people who migrated to Taiwan with the Nationalist-Led Chinese Government colonization since October 25, 1945 are not included in this term.

<i>Zhonghua minzu</i> Chinese nation

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

Mainland Chinese or Mainlanders often refers to Chinese people who live in mainland China, where the term "mainland China" refers to regions directly administered by the People's Republic of China, as opposed to special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, the island of Taiwan and other ethnic Chinese-majority areas of the Chinese diaspora. However, it can also refer to specific groups of people who migrated from mainland China, depending on the context and the specific translation; some of these contexts are listed below.

Plains indigenous peoples 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.

Hoklo Taiwanese or Holo people are a major ethnic group in Taiwan whose ancestry is wholly or partially Hoklo. Being Taiwanese of Han origin, they are generally bilingual in Taiwanese Mandarin and Taiwanese Hokkien. Most descend from the Hoklo people of Quanzhou or Zhangzhou in Southern Fujian, China. The term as commonly understood signifies those whose ancestors immigrated to Taiwan before 1949.

Han Taiwanese or Taiwanese Han are a Taiwanese ethnic group, most of whom are of full or partial Han descent. According to the Executive Yuan 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.

Hokkien, Hoklo (Holo), and Minnan people are found in the United States. The Hoklo people are a Han Chinese subgroup with ancestral roots in Southern Fujian and Eastern Guangdong, particularly around the modern prefecture-level cities of Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Xiamen and Chaoshan area. They are also known by various endonyms, or other related terms such as Hoklo people (河洛儂), Banlam (Minnan) people, Hokkien people or Teochew people (潮州人;Tiê-tsiu-lâng). These people usually also have roots in the Hokkien diaspora in Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Fujian–Taiwan relationship 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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