Why is China Han Chinese?
I have read various sources that seem to say there were other ethnic groups across most of China and that Han Chinese emerged in northern China. My question is what happened to everyone else? Apparently across China the genetics indicate a shared ethnic group, how? In Europe most people from Ireland to turkey are descended from the people living there 3000+ years ago. Why not in China?
[–]OrderingOlaf 8 *
I really am no expert and can not give a lengthy explanation but I recall it was the Han just being really politically dominant for a long time that did it. They were able to create their own dynasty very early on. Since then I guess they never truly lost their political dominance even when not being the ruling dynasty. That prominence and their position around the coast and big rivers probably helped them grow larger then other ethnic groups like for instance the Tibetans in the mountains or the nomadic people on the Chinese steppes/deserts.
Genetics are not what determines ethnicity. For example, Greeks and Turks are indistinguishable at the genetic level. The numbers of Han ethnicity is a bit of a statistical trick that uses the relative lack of ethnic nationalism to impose an idea of greater homogeneity. It includes hundreds of millions of people who speak languages unintelligible to each other. Functionally, it's closer to "American" than it is to a specific group like Flemish.
There are multiple things which can make up an ethnicity, genetics aren't the only determiner, but they definitely play a role. Greeks and Turks are indistinguishable at a genetic level. Turkish people are descended from a mix of the indigenous Anatolians and Turkic groups from the steppes to the East who migrated. Greeks are descended from peoples that originated in Europe and the Mediterranean. I don't see how they could possibly be genetically indistinguishable, considering their different origins. You can tell differences even between the French and English when you look at their genetics, in terms of haplogroups.
In ancient times, greek was more a cultural term than a ethnic one (there was no social darwinism back then). They assimilated people like macedonians, egyptians and west asians. They even got themselves assimilated into roman empire.
[–]leviathonlx 0 *
A lot of it depends on location. A Greek from the Peloponnese is going to be a bit less Turk than Greek living on Cyprus but they are pretty similar (though not indistinguishable). Most nomadic or migrating groups were vastly outnumbered by the group that already lived there so usually they just assimilated into the native population though there would still be some small differences. Being a 'Turk' also just meant being a citizen (Muslim) of Turkey/the Ottoman Empire so a lot of the 'Turks' in Turkey today are actually just descended from Greeks and Armenians that converted. For example a Turkish Cypriot is genetically the same as a Greek Cypriot.
Turkish people are descended from Anatolians, who were/include Greeks. They are also descended from migrating Central Asians, but to a smaller degree than native Anatolians. They are not literally indistinguishable. But it happens that the differences in average distribution of haplogroups between two ethnic groups with an extremely divisive history is about the same as that of people from two halves of Germany. That's not getting into the personal genetics, where it's more than likely that a random Greek or Turk shares the same haplogroup, and for many people, the difference between being Turkish or Greek was just the result of a distant ancestor converting to a different religion.
The genetic markers for nomadic turks in todays Turkish gene pool is laughably small.
[–]ConventionalizedPool 21 *
The concept of "Han" Chinese derives from the Han Dynasty period of China following unification of China by Qin dynasty. Also despite its name or appearance, it is not a singular cultural group either. As a dynasty which enjoyed great height of power and prestige, the name and concept of Han Chinese was adopted to differentiate themselves from other ethnicity of Chinese they deemed as less culturally developed or other foreign groups of people. In the beginning, being "Han Chinese" was a rather limited membership focused around group of people in central area of China referred as Zhongyuan. However, as time passed and growing sinification of people previously not considered Han Chinese made them largely indistinguishable, the membership of being "Han Chinese" grew as well. Groups such as Gan, Hakka, Jin and countless others became part of "Han Chinese" while some Han Chinese were actually expelled from the concept due to adoption of foreign culture like the Hui.
As per "descendant" thing, I believe you are largely mistaken. There were significant population migration which did not live in same place for thousands of years. For example, Ireland's celtiscization was due to arrival in immigration and invasion waves of Celts during the Iron age. In the island right next over, where Celts settled down as well, the Germanic tribes invaded and established the "Anglo-Saxon" dominance. In example of Turkey, the establishment of Seljurk Turk was done by group of nomads living in what is now Kazhakstan. There's very few groups in antiquity which lived in the very same areas their ancestors lived in thousands of years ago.
Not to be to nit-picky but hakkas and gan are genetically more zhong yuan and are not likely sinicized southern natives.
Painting with a broad brush, the Han could be described like a broad ethnic/cultural group like Germanic, Slav, Romance, etc. i.e. Russians, Ukrainians, and the Polish are slavs, but they are quite different from each other. There are 56 official ethnic groups in China, and some are very close to the Han, and some are very distinct like the Uzbeks, Uyghur, Mongols, etc. These groups never disappeared, but they got more or less assimilated by the dominant Han culture. It's a bit like why the Irish, Scottish and Welsh speak English.
Ethnical identities are not based on biological fact. There are no underlying races, even if that notion is defining for ethnics. The han Chinese identity has ca complex part, but the homogeneity over china is due to being united under one empire for most of its history. Imperial synergy causing a sharing of culture over the area controlled. Note how many European languages are ultimate derived from vulgate latin, yet there was no genocide of one population, being replaced by romans.There have been plenty of migration in europé the last 3000 years, btw.
Han chinese have assimilated multiple ethnic groups. The term itself indicate culture, not necessarily ethnic groups. The term could be considered like roman or greek.
评论6：汉族吸收同化了很多个民族。 “汉族”这个词本身表示的是一种文化，不一定是必需用来表示“民族”。 这个词可以被认为是像罗马人或希腊人那样的词。
The simplest answer is that we generally divide ethnicities by language, and although many forms of Chinese are mutually unintelligible in their spoken form, the fact that they're highly intelligible in the written form makes division hard to justify. They also have a long history of political unity that has prevented very sharp divergences from happening. For comparison, imagine if the Roman Empire had survived down to today and although French, Italians, Portuguese and others all spoke differently, they still had a standardized form of writing they all shared. In that case I think we'd lonely see all these nations as regional variations of a single Roman ethnicity.
That seems like an overly wide way of defining an ethnicity. Ancient Koreans, Japanese, and Vietnamese used Classical Chinese writing to communicate as well. Classical Chinese was a nonregional lingua franca between many states and peoples in East Asia.
That's a separate issue- Classical Chinese was an acquired language even for native Chinese speakers, understood only by the educated even if read out loud. In the same way medi monks didn't become ethnic Romans when they learned to read Latin.
这是一个单独的问题 - 古典汉语即使对于母语为汉语的人来说，也是一种后天习得性的语言，也只能被受过教育的人理解，没受过教育的人，即使你读得再大声，他也听不懂。同样，中世纪的僧侣在学会读拉丁文后也没有变成罗马人。
[–]sparky_sparky_boom 1 *
My point is that language and writing system is too broad for defining what the Han ethnicity is. Also, all the forms of Chinese were only intelligible in written form if written in a way that has many mismatches with the spoken language, resulting in the written form being a whole other language that has to be learned. In the past that was Classical Chinese, today it's Mandarin.