Chinese people are the various individuals or ethnic groups associated with China, usually through ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, or other affiliation.
The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group in China, comprising roughly 92% of its mainland population. Han Chinese people also comprise roughly 95% of the population of Taiwan, roughly 92% of the population of Hong Kong, and roughly 89% of the population of Macau. They are also the world's largest ethnic group, comprising about 18% of the global human population.
Outside of China, the terms "Han Chinese" and "Chinese" are often conflated since the Han Chinese are the most populous ethnic group in China. In fact, there are 55 officially-recognized ethnic minorities in China who may also identify as "Chinese".
Although Hong Kong and Macau are both under Chinese sovereignty, both regions are highly autonomous. Hong Kong and Macau are respectively governed by international treaties known as the "Sino-British Joint Declaration" and the "Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration". Residents of both regions can possess various nationalities.
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.
Ethnic groups in China and associated territories
Ethnic groups in China
Han Chinese people, the largest ethnic group in China, are often referred to as "Chinese" or "ethnic Chinese" in English. The Han Chinese also form a majority or notable minority in other countries, and they comprise roughly 18% of the global human population.
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 roughly 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 subjects of the empire, including Han, Manchu, and Mongols.
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). The term zhonghua minzu was used during the Republic of China from 1911–1949 to refer to a subset of five ethnic groups in China. 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.
Ethnic groups in Taiwan
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 China and Southeast Asia). Of the 17 native Taiwanese ethnic groups, 16 are considered to be indigenous (Taiwanese indigenous peoples), whereas one is considered to be a colonizing population (Han Taiwanese). 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 Mainlanders (Taiwanese) (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 roughly 70% of Taiwan's total population and the Hakkas comprise roughly 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 roughly 14% of Taiwan's total population.
Collectively, the various Taiwanese indigenous peoples comprise roughly 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
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. 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.
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.
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. People with one or more Chinese ancestors may consider themselves overseas Chinese. 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 Chinese ancestry.
In Southeast Asia, Chinese people call themselves 華人 (Huárén), which is distinguished from (中國人 Zhōngguórén) or the citizens of the People's Republic of China or the Republic of China. 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.
For countries with significant populations
For countries with noteworthy populations
Other countries with Chinese populations
- Chinese American
- Chinese Indonesian
- Chinese Vietnamese
- Chinese Cambodian
- Chinese Russian
- Chinese Italian
- British Chinese
- Chinese Caribbean
- Chinese Cuban
- Chinese Guyanese
- Chinese Jamaican
- Chinese Trinidadian and Tobagonian
- Chinese Surinamese
- Chinese Puerto Rican
- Chinese Brazilian
- Chinese Argentine
- Chinese Mexican
- Chinese Peruvian
- Chinese Venezuelan
Related topics of interest
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