Home > China Facts > Chinese Culture and History > Chinese Ethnic Groups

Chinese Ethnic Groups

Last updated by david at 2014/9/12

The majority of people in China belong to an ethnic group the Chinese state calls Han. For the rest, the population divides up between some 55 ethnic minorities. The Chinese term for these ethnic groups is shaoshu minzu, which means literally “minority nationalities”.

During the 1st century BC, Han emperors widened their influence westward and in the South of the country, making of China a multiethnic nation.

China Minority Tours

From this time, the Chinese culture was going to grow rich of numerous foreign fundamentals. During the Tang dynasty (618-907), China assimilated influences coming from all Asia and even Mediterranean countries. The capital Changan (Xi'an) was the biggest city of the world. In the North, the various ethnic groups united gradually during two millenniums. Traditionally, the Chinese recognized no geographical border and were deprived of any racial prejudice. They accepted as being Chinese whoever had adopted the Chinese culture and the Confucian rules of conduct. People did not fit in the Chinese Empire for ethnic or historic reasons but by a cultural identity, by a way of thinking and behaviour to the others.

With the succession of the modern Chinese nation, the attitude to “the foreigner” was modified. The Han had to decide if ethnic minorities must be assimilate or handled in independent peoples. It was a question of granting them the right to form their own republic, connected to the State by a federal system, or of immortalizing the traditional Chinese concept of a powerful centralized authority.

In the first half of the 20th-century, China tried a policy of assimilation. The Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek (1928 to 1948) considered minorities as being components of the Chinese people which, sooner or later, would be a part of a unified nation. Some minorities however tried to obtain their independence. Their fight became a reality by the proclamation of an East Turkestan Republic (ETR), in the 40s and by the existence of the independent Tibet between 1911 and 1951.

One of the most important points to remember about China’s ethnic minorities is their diversity.  Some have highly distinctive cultures, languages and religions very different from those from the Han Chinese. For these and other reasons, the minorities are actually considerably more important to China than the small proportion of their population would suggest. The government has a similar, identical policy towards all of them and apply a “positive discrimination ", to protect the culture and the language of the "non-Han" peoples.

Related Topics:

 

Most Recommended Topics

Chinese Food

Chinese Food

Overview Chinese food owning a long history…>> details

Chinese Kung Fu

Chinese Kung Fu

Kung Fu (an Anglicization of >gongfu> [功夫]), me…>> details

Chinese Taiji Quan

Chinese Taiji Quan

Overview Millions of people practice Taiji …>> details

Shaolin Kung Fu

Shaolin Kung Fu

China is a country of much greatness. It is a l…>> details

China National Day

China National Day

October 1st is Chinese National Day. National D…>> details

Recommended Tours

Yabuli Skiing Tour

4-Days Yabuli Skiing Tour

Visit Harbin, Yabuli

from USD $ 539

Xi'an Quick and Easy Tour

2-Days Xi'an Quick and Easy Tour

Visit Xian

from USD $ 209

Shanghai Highlights from Beijing

2-Days Shanghai Highlights from Beijing

Visit Beijing, Shanghai

from USD $ 279

Interesting to Know

Why Group Travel? Early Bird Deals Tailor-making China Tours

Travel Confidently with Us

Customers

10,000 Satisfied Customers

Customers

50 Years in China Travel Industry

Customers

Quick Response within 24 hours

Customers

Secured Online Payment

Customers

Group Tours with Solo Adventure

Customers

No Hidden Fees and No Traps