Zhonghua minzu

Zhonghua minzu

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Encyclopedia
Zhonghua minzu usually translated as Chinese ethnic groups or Chinese nationality, refers to the modern notion of a Chinese nationality transcending ethnic divisions, with a central identity for China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 as a whole. It includes people of all ethnic groups in China who have historically interacted
Ethnic groups in Chinese history
Ethnic groups in Chinese history refer to various or presumed ethnicities of significance to the history of China, gathered through the study of Classical Chinese literature, Chinese and non-Chinese literary sources and inscriptions, historical linguistics, and archaeological research.Among the...

, contributed and assimilated to various extents with Chinese civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

.

Professor Suisheng Zhao, University of Denver
University of Denver
The University of Denver is currently ranked 82nd among all public and private "National Universities" by U.S. News & World Report in the 2012 rankings....

, using extensive reading of primary sources noted that because "Chinese" or Zhonghua minzu as a conscious national identity (zijue de minzu shiti) only arose in the 19th century, since nationalism in the modern sense only appeared with the emergence of the nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

 system (Westphalian system) in Europe. Although the Chinese empire stretched back two millennia, it was largely a universalistic empire and not a nation-state before the 19th century.

The boundaries of Zhonghua minzu are fuzzy and controversial, but most Chinese today use the term to include all peoples within the territorial boundaries of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 integrated as one nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

al, political, and cultural group. It is sometimes also extended to overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

.

Zhonghua refers to the concept of "China" and is the term used in the formal names for both the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

. (See: Names of China
Names of China
In China, common names for China include Zhonghua and Zhongguo , while Han and Tang are common names given for the Chinese ethnicity. Other names include Huaxia, Shenzhou and Jiuzhou...

) Minzu can be translated as "nationality", "people", or "ethnic groups".

Confusion can arise because the term "Chinese" in Western languages is often used to refer both to Zhonghua minzu and to the Han
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 ethnicity, two concepts which are usually kept distinct among modern Chinese speakers.

History



The immediate roots of the Zhonghua minzu lie in the Qing dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 founded by the Manchu
Manchu
The Manchu people or Man are an ethnic minority of China who originated in Manchuria . During their rise in the 17th century, with the help of the Ming dynasty rebels , they came to power in China and founded the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which...

 clan Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro
Aisin Gioro was the family name of the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty. The House of Aisin Gioro ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which established a republican government in its place. The word aisin means gold in the Manchu language, and "gioro" is the name of the place in...

 in what is today northeast China
Northeast China
Northeast China, historically known in English as Manchuria, is a geographical region of China, consisting of the three provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang. The region is sometimes called the Three Northeast Provinces...

. The Qing Emperors sought to portray themselves as ideal Confucian rulers for the Han Chinese, Grand khans for the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

, and Chakravartin
Chakravartin
Chakravartin , is a term used in Indian religions for an ideal universal ruler, who rules ethically and benevolently over the entire world. Such a ruler's reign is called sarvabhauma. It is a bahuvrīhi, literally meaning "whose wheels are moving", in the sense of "whose chariot is rolling...

 kings for Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

an Buddhists. Before the rise of nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 people were generally loyal to the city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

, the feudal fief and its lord or, in the case of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, to the dynastic state. The French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 and subsequent developments in Europe paved the way for the modern nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

 and nationalism has become one of the most significant political and social forces in history. Nationalism spread in the early 19th century to central Europe and from there to eastern and southeastern Europe and in the early 20th century nationalism began to appear in China.

While Qing rulers adopted the Han Chinese imperial model and considered their state as Zhongguo ("中國", the term for "China" in modern Chinese
Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese, or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or Putonghua, is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China , and is one of the four official languages of Singapore....

), and the name "China" was commonly used in international communications and treaties
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 (such as Treaty of Nanking), domestically however, some Chinese nationalists
Chinese nationalism
Chinese nationalism , sometimes synonymous with Chinese patriotism refers to cultural, historiographical, and political theories, movements and beliefs that assert the idea of a cohesive, unified Chinese people and culture in a unified country known as China...

 such as Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen was a Chinese doctor, revolutionary and political leader. As the foremost pioneer of Nationalist China, Sun is frequently referred to as the "Father of the Nation" , a view agreed upon by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China...

 initially described the Manchus as "foreign invaders" to be expelled, and planned to establish a Chinese nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

 modelled closely after Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. Fearing, however, that this restrictive view of the ethnic nation-state would result in the loss of large parts of imperial territory, Chinese nationalists discarded this concept. The abdication of the Qing emperor inevitably led to controversy about the status of territories in Tibet and Mongolia. While the emperor formally bequeathed all the Qing territories to the new republic, it was the position of Mongols and Tibetans that their allegiance had been to the Qing monarch; with the abdication of the Qing, they owed no allegiance to the new Chinese state. This was rejected by the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 and subsequently the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

.

This development in Chinese thinking was mirrored in the expansion of the meaning of the term Zhonghua minzu. Originally coined by the late Qing philologist Liang Qichao
Liang Qichao
Liang Qichao |Styled]] Zhuoru, ; Pseudonym: Rengong) was a Chinese scholar, journalist, philosopher and reformist during the Qing Dynasty , who inspired Chinese scholars with his writings and reform movements...

, Zhonghua minzu initially referred only to the Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

. It was then expanded to include the Five Races Under One Union
Five Races Under One Union
Five races under one union was one of the major principles upon which the Republic of China was originally founded in 1911 at the time of the Xinhai Revolution.-Description:...

, based on the ethnic categories of the Qing. Sun Yatsen further expanded this concept when he wrote,
The concept of Zhonghua minzu was first publicly espoused by President Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai
Yuan Shikai was an important Chinese general and politician famous for his influence during the late Qing Dynasty, his role in the events leading up to the abdication of the last Qing Emperor of China, his autocratic rule as the second President of the Republic of China , and his short-lived...

 in 1912, shortly after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 and the founding of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

. Facing the imminent independence of Outer Mongolia
Outer Mongolia
Outer Mongolia was a territory of the Qing Dynasty = the Manchu Empire. Its area was roughly equivalent to that of the modern state of Mongolia, which is sometimes informally called "Outer Mongolia" today...

 from China, Yuan Shikai stated, "Outer Mongolia is part of Zhonghua minzu [the Chinese nation] and has been of one family for centuries" (外蒙同為中華民族,數百年來儼如一家).

After the founding of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, the concept of Zhonghua minzu became influenced by Soviet nationalities policy
Soviet people
Soviet people or Soviet nation was an umbrella demonym for the population of the Soviet Union. Initially used as a nonspecific reference to the Soviet population, it was eventually declared to be a "new historical, social and international unity of people".-Nationality politics in early Soviet...

. Officially, the PRC is a unitary state
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

 composed of 56 ethnic groups, of which the Han ethnic group
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 is by far the largest. The concept of Zhonghua minzu is seen as an all-encompassing category consisting of people within the borders of the PRC.

This term has continued to be invoked and remains a powerful concept in China into the 21st century. In mainland China, it continues to hold use as the leaders of China need to unify into one political entity a highly diverse set of ethnic and social groups as well as to mobilize the support of overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

 in developing China.

In Taiwan it has been invoked by President Ma as a unifying concept that includes the people of both Taiwan and mainland China without a possible interpretation that Taiwan is part the People's Republic of China, whereas terms such as "Chinese people" can be, given that the PRC is commonly known as "China".

Implications


The adoption of the Zhonghua minzu concept may give rise to the reinterpretation of Chinese history. For example, the Manchu-founded Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 was originally sometimes characterized as a "conquering regime" or a "non-Han" regime. Following the adoption of the Zhonghua minzu ideology, which regards the Manchus as a member of the Zhonghua minzu, dynasties founded by ethnic minorities are no longer stigmatized.

The concept of Zhonghua minzu nevertheless also leads to the reassessment of the role of many traditional hero figures. Heroes such as Yue Fei
Yue Fei
Yue Fei , style name Pengju, was a military general of the Southern Song Dynasty. His ancestral home was in Xiaoti, Yonghe Village, Tangyin, Xiangzhou, Henan...

 and Koxinga
Koxinga
Koxinga is the customary Western spelling of the popular appellation of Zheng Chenggong , a military leader who was born in 1624 in Hirado, Japan to Zheng Zhilong, a Chinese merchant/pirate, and his Japanese wife and died in 1662 on the island of Formosa .A Ming loyalist and the arch commander of...

, who were originally often considered to have fought for China against barbarian incursions, have been recharacterized by some as minzu yingxiong (ethnic heroes) who fought not against barbarians but against other members of the Zhonghua minzu (the Jurchens
Jurchens
The Jurchens were a Tungusic people who inhabited the region of Manchuria until the 17th century, when they adopted the name Manchu...

 and Manchus respectively). At the same time, China exemplified heroes such as Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

, who became a "national hero" as a member of the Zhonghua minzu.

The Zhonghua Minzu concept in practice gives Chinese nationals who are not of the ethnic Han majority preferential university entry status, favorable tax laws, non-compliance with the one-child policy
One-child policy
The one-child policy refers to the one-child limitation applying to a minority of families in the population control policy of the People's Republic of China . The Chinese government refers to it under the official translation of family planning policy...

, among other preferential conditions under Chinese law for ethnic minorities. This has in fact led to a tremendous surge in the population of ethnic minorities in China, which number about 5% of the total Chinese population in the 1950s, to about 10% in 2006 of the total in the year 2007; a birth rate about three times that of the ethnic Han majority group in the last half-century.

Ambiguity



The theory behind the ideology of Zhonghua minzu is that it includes not only the Han but also other minority ethnic groups within China, such as the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

, Manchu
Manchu
The Manchu people or Man are an ethnic minority of China who originated in Manchuria . During their rise in the 17th century, with the help of the Ming dynasty rebels , they came to power in China and founded the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which...

s, Hmong
Hmong people
The Hmong , are an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Hmong are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China...

, Tibetans, Tuvan
Tuvan
Tuvan can refer to:*Of or pertaining to Tuva*The Tuvans*The Tuvan language*Tuvan Syndrome, a fictional Star Trek malady that afflicts Vulcans, Romulans and Rigellians....

s, etc. An ethnic Korean from China living and working in Korea or a ethnic Mongol from China living and working in the Mongolia would both be considered members of the Zhonghua Minzu, which can give rise to potential issues (including contemporary loyalty to contemporary states, the proper boundary lines between states/subnational entities, and the modern categorization of historical states) of identity.

Whether ethnic Han Chinese living overseas
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

 and not having Chinese citizenship are considered part of this Chinese nationality depends on the speaker and the context. More often than not, overseas Chinese in Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, Malaysia and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 make a clear distinction between being Chinese in a political sense and being Chinese in an ethnic sense, making it unclear whether or not they belong to such a group that contains both political and ethnic connotations.

The conceptual boundaries of the Zhonghua minzu may be complicated by the politics of neighboring countries such as Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 and Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, who exclusively claim regional historical peoples and states. For instance, the idea of Chinggis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 as a "national hero" is contested by Mongolia, which since the fall of socialism has explicitly positioned Chinggis Khan as the father of the Mongolian state. In opposition to this, it is common to point out that there are more ethnic Mongolians in China than in the state of Mongolia.

A dispute of a similar nature has arisen over the status of the state of Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 in ancient history, with China claiming it as Chinese on the grounds that much of it existed within the current borders of China as well as the ancient borders of China. On that basis Chinese nationalists maintain that these territories belong to the heterogeneous origin of the Chinese nation. This view is generally rejected by historians from South Korea and North Korea, as well as experts on Goguryeo history from various countries such as the United States, Russia, Mongolia, and Australia. It has also received criticism from certain domestic scholars, such as a senior scholar from Peking University
Peking University
Peking University , colloquially known in Chinese as Beida , is a major research university located in Beijing, China, and a member of the C9 League. It is the first established modern national university of China. It was founded as Imperial University of Peking in 1898 as a replacement of the...

 who likewise considered Goguryeo as a part of Korean history and denied Chinese connections.

See also

  • Bangsa Malaysia
    Bangsa Malaysia
    The Bangsa Malaysia policy was introduced by Mahathir Mohamad, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, to create an inclusive national identity for all inhabitants of Malaysia, thus abandoning the National Culture Policy that asserted a Malay ethnic national identity...

  • Pan-European identity
    Pan-European identity
    Pan-European identity refers to the sense of personal identification with Europe. The most concrete examples of pan-europeanism are the European Union and the older Council of Europe...

  • Three Principles of the People
    Three Principles of the People
    The Three Principles of the People, also translated as Three People's Principles, or collectively San-min Doctrine, is a political philosophy developed by Sun Yat-sen as part of a philosophy to make China a free, prosperous, and powerful nation...

  • China proper
    China proper
    China proper or Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the Qing Dynasty to express a distinction between the core and frontier regions of China. There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultural, and linguistic shifts have occurred in Chinese history...

  • Sinocentrism
    Sinocentrism
    Sinocentrism is an ethnocentric perspective that regards China to be the center of civilization and superior to all other nations. The related but distinct concept of the superiority of the Han Chinese ethnicity both within and without China is known as Han chauvinism.- Overview and context...

  • Sinicization
    Sinicization
    Sinicization, Sinicisation or Sinification, is the linguistic assimilation or cultural assimilation of terms and concepts of the language and culture of China...


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