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What makes Chinese people Chinese By extension, can a non-Chinese person become Chinese

龙腾网/freemimo 2018-05-11 17:32:29 外国人中国人内涵
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I was born in America, so I'm an American citizen.

My mother was raised in Taiwan. 

My father was raised in Thailand.

My Grandparents were born in Yunnan, China. They fought for the Republic of China against Mao Zedong's insurrection. Afterwards my paternal Grandfather took his army to Thailand where he defended it from Communist insurgents so the King of Thailand granted him the right to found a village for his people. When I was looking up the history of my grandparents I found some CIA guy had a chapter about them in his memoirs, calling their Chinese village in northern Thailand a 'pure'representation of pre-Communist Chinese culture.

If my parents told told me I was only Thai or Taiwanese, I would be Thai or Taiwanese. But they identified as Chinese along with other identities, and so I am Chinese*. I identify with my family lineage, what's more Chinese than that?

*Culturally. You don't have to be a citizen of the PRC or RoC to say you're of Chinese culture.







2.Eric Miller, Ph.D. in Cultural anthropology, research professor and applied anthropologist 


There is not really a simple answer.  The more one thinks about it, the harder it is to give a clear answer.  

On one hand, to be Chinese is an ethnicity.  It is based on race and language.  Of course race is never really a clearly marked thing, and people in the north might be genetically more similar to non-Chinese neighbors than to southern Chinese.  The Han Chinese are an ethnic group, but are all Han Chinese and all non-Han not Chinese?  It isn't entirely clear, even if we could clearly decide who is Han and who is not.  

While the spoken language varies, the written language is more universal.  Still, even the illiterate can be Chinese, so that is not perfect either.  

Within China, people can shift ethnicity a bit.  If a Han person discovers they have Manchu ancestors, they can officially shift their nationality to Manchu, while continuing to be a Chinese citizen. 





Another way to define it would be by citizenship.  Citizens of China are Chinese, even if they are Korean minority or Russian minority, and other people are not.  But then, there are Chinese Americans, Taiwanese who hold a different passport, Chinese Malaysians and so forth.

Ethnically, a person cannot so easily become Chinese.  If I am a white American in America, then it seems kind of silly to think I could become Chinese.  I could move to China and become a Chinese citizen, and then would be Chinese.  In reality, that is very, very difficult.  Even then, no one would consider me to be ethnically Chinese. 



China continues to claim overseas Chinese as Chinese, and treats them differently from non-Chinese foreigners in some cases.    

Historically as new groups were brought into the fold of the Chinese nation, it was the performance of Chinese rituals and especially the Chinese funeral that marked them as Chinese--along with paying tribute to the Emperor.  

One way or another, the simplest way to identify who is Chinese is whoever identifies themselves as Chinese and are accepted as such by others.




3,Aaron Shang, Born Chinese. Lived in China 88-95, 00-09 for 17 years. Rest in BE, DE, 

USA 88-95年及00-09年这17年住在中国,其余时间住在英国、德国和美国

Can a non-Chinese person become Chinese? Yes and No.

For other Chinese to recognize you as “Chinese” 中国人, well that is a very tall order. You cannot do nothing for China and wants to be part of it. Even Admiral Nelson hoisted “England expects that every man will do his duty”



Post-WWII world order made most humans think it’s easy to join a nation and become a citizen. Even the UN enshrines it. But that is not true with the Chinese people, to join our ranks one must prove it. Are you ready to devote your life’s work? China was not, is not, and never will be a “Xenophile” country (Xenophile literally “foreign-love”). It is 2017 and China remains one of the toughest country to immigrate to. If you have not contributed, it will not recognize you as “Chinese” no matter what skin you’re born in.


The modern Chinese identity is very much forged from it’s 150 years of struggles against Domestic and Foreign Feudalism, Colonialism, Imperialism, and Fascism etc. Everyone who lives in China today is still struggling towards the building of a better country and the eventual peaceful rise of the new Chinese state. Each and every one of our ancestors survived fighting that whole shabang thrown at them in history and they earned their place and ours. The Syrian civil war raged for six years and people believed that country is finished. WELL, did you know the Chinese endured 38 years(1911–1949) of civil war and countless of invasions since 1895? As a popular phrase puts it “Us Han did not submit to family planing(one child policy) to make place for immigrants”



In a Chinese mind there is something fundamentally different from the western mentality. We have trusted our own skin to painstakingly hold the country together and protect ourselves. Most Chinese will find it hard to believe that the US Army in WWII had tons of German and Italian immigrants who see themselves as Americans. And those new Americans fought valiantly against their German and Italian brethren. The worst name you can possibly get in Chinese history 汉奸(literally “traitor to the Han”) are reserved for those Chinese who do similar things. For example, this guy: Kurt Chew-Een Lee - Wikipedia


The worst name the Chinese people reserve for a objectively speaking brave, cunning, and loyal marine is “fake foreign devil”假洋鬼子. Too bad but it’s the truth, once your loyalties shifted, betrayed your blood, you are no longer considered one of our own. That term “devil” is reserved for foreigners only, we never ever used it on Mongolian Chinese, Muslim Chinese or Zangzu/tibetan Chinese, said term is for non-chinese only.

But what if you are just born non-Chinese, and you live like“Chinese” through and through? Like this popular comedian and host Mark Rowswell Dashan - Wikipedia



NOPE, just ask any Chinese around you if they think Dashan is Chinese. We all love him but we don’t call him Zhongguoren 中国人

OKAY, so we’ve established that the Chinese won’t call you one of their own even if you are:

1)A foreign citizen born to ethnic Chinese parents overseas 华人华侨

2)Mixed heritage, born to one chinese parent 混血

3)Ethnic Chinese but got a foreign passport 华人

4)Not ethnic Chinese but lived in China for most your life, lives and breathes the Chinese language and celebrate our festivals, follows our customs, married to Chinese and have mixed kids







Who do the people think deserve the earned title of “Chinese”? Foreigners who devoted their life’s work and unwavering support in making China a better place. The things they have sacrificed for China and it’s people will bring any Chinese on the verge of tears! I won’t take up any more of your time, just read their bios yourself, I’m honored to mention their names:

马海德 Ma Haide - Wikipedia George Hatem 生平

柯棣华 Dwarkanath Kotnis - Wikipedia

傅莱 Richard Frey - Wikipedia

沙博里 Sidney Shapiro - Wikipedia

魏璐诗 Ruth Weiss - Wikipedia

陈必娣 生平 Betty Chandler – Wikipedia

爱泼斯坦 Israel Epstein - Wikipedia


All those great people came to China when they’re young. Stayed all their life, married and had kids, then chose to be buried in China. If you can do this, congratulations, the Chinese people will remember you as Zhongguoren中国人

That’s what it means to be Chinese. You love the land, you don’t betray the family and the people, you speak the language and enjoys our festivals and customs, when you die you choose to be buried on Chinese soil.