Ancient China, Chinese nation, nationalism, Foreign barbarians


The modern concept of Chinese Nationality is a rather recent construct. During China's early Republican (1912-27) and Nationalist (1928-49) periods, leaders like Sun Yat-sen and Yuan Shikai embraced the idea of Zhonghua minzu, translated as "Chinese nation" or "Chinese races." The inclusive term helped unify the Han Chinese people and four other major non-Han ethnic groups that comprised most of the Chinese population: The Man (Manchus), the Meng (Mongolians), the Hui (Uighurs and groups of Muslims in northwestern China), and the Zang (Tibetans). The term was later expanded in 1978 after the death of Mao Zedong to include fifty-one other recognized minority ethnic groups in China. Although not officially recognized as Chinese until the twentieth century, these ethnic groups, as well as other non-Chinese, have been influencing the course of Chinese history for centuries. They have helped China avoid exclusive isolationism through frequent trade and by conquering and ruling China at various times. During these periods of non-Han rule, particularly up to Mongol rule in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, China experienced incredible technological and cultural advancements. Non-Chinese left an indelible impact by helping expand China's worldwide influence and even its current boundaries.