Multiple ethnic groups populate China, where “China” is taken to mean areas controlled by either of the two states using “China” in their formal names, the People’s Republic of China (China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group, where (as of 2010) some 91.51% of the population was classified as Han Chinese (~1.2 billion). Besides the Han majority, 55 other ethnic groups are recognised in China by the PRC government, numbering approximately 105 million people, mostly concentrated in the northwest, north, northeast, south, and southwest but with some in central interior areas.
The major minority ethnic groups in China are Zhuang (16.9 million), Uyghur (11.5 million), Hui (10.5 million), Manchu (10.3 million), Miao (9.4 million), Yi (8.7 million), Tujia (8.3 million), Tibetan (6.2 million), Mongol (5.9 million), Dong (2.8 million), Buyei (2.8 million), Yao (2.7 million), Bai (1.9 million), Korean (1.8 million), Hani (1.6 million), Li (1.4 million), Kazakh (1.4 million), and Dai (1.2 million).Han Chinese.
The Han Chinese, Han people or simply Han (漢族; pinyin: Hànzú, literally “Han ethnicity” or “Han ethnic group”; or 漢人; pinyin: Hànrén, literally “Han people”) are an ethnic group native to East Asia. They constitute approximately 92% of the population of China, 95% of Taiwan (Han Taiwanese), 76% of Singapore,23% of Malaysia and about 18% of the global population. Han Chinese are the world’s largest ethnic group with over 1.3 billion people.
The name Han was derived from the Han dynasty, which succeeded the short-lived Qin dynasty, and is historically considered to be the first golden age of China’s Imperial era due to the power and influence it projected over much of Asia. As a result of the dynasty’s prominence in inter-ethnic and pre-modern international matters, many Chinese began identifying themselves as the “people of Han” (Chinese: 漢人; pinyin: Hàn Rén), a name that has been carried down to this day. Similarly, the Chinese language also came to be named the “Han language” (simplified Chinese: 汉语; traditional Chinese: 漢語) ever since. In the Oxford Dictionary, the Han are defined as “The dominant ethnic group in China”. In the Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania, the Han are called the dominant population in “China, as well as in Taiwan and Singapore.”According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the Han are “the Chinese peoples especially as distinguished from non-Chinese (as Mongolian) elements in the population.”
The Zhuang people (Chinese: 壮族; pinyin: Zhuàngzú; Zhuang: Bouxcuengh) are an ethnic group who mostly live in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China. Some also live in the Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hunan provinces. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China. With the Buyi, Tay–Nùng, and other northern Tai speakers, they are sometimes known as the Rau or Rao. Their population, estimated at 18 million people, makes them the largest minority in China.
The Chinese character used for the Zhuang people has changed several times. Their autonym, “Cuengh” in Standard Zhuang, was originally written with the graphic pejorative Zhuàng 獞 (or tóng, meaning “a variety of wild dog”). Chinese characters typically combine a semantic element or radical and a phonetic element. John DeFrancis calls Zhuàng 獞, with the “dog radical” 犭 and a tóng 童 phonetic, an ethnic slur and describes how the People’s Republic of China removed it. In 1949, after the Chinese civil war, the logograph 獞 was officially replaced with Zhuàng 僮 (or tóng “child; boy servant”), with the “human radical” 亻and the same phonetic. Later, during the standardization of simplified Chinese characters, Zhuàng 僮 was changed to a completely different character Zhuàng 壮 (meaning “strong; robust”).
Most Zhuang follow a traditional animist faith known as Shigongism or Moism, which include elements of ancestor worship. The Mo have their own sutra and professional priests known as bu mo who traditionally use chicken bones for divination. In Moism, the creator is known as Bu Luotuo and the universe is tripartite, with all things composed from the three elements of heaven, earth, and water.
There are also a number of Buddhists, Taoists, and Christians among the Zhuang.
The Manchu (Manchu: ᠮᠠᠨᠵᡠ; Möllendorff: manju; Abkai: manju; simplified Chinese: 满族; traditional Chinese: 滿族; pinyin: Mǎnzú; Wade–Giles: Man3-tsu2) are an ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria derives its name. They are sometimes called “red-tasseled Manchus”, a reference to the ornamentation on traditional Manchu hats. The Later Jin (1616-1636), and Qing dynasty (1636–1912) are established by Manchus, who are descended from the Jurchen people who earlier established the Jin dynasty (1115–1234) in China.
Manchus form the largest branch of the Tungusic peoples and are distributed throughout China, forming the fourth largest ethnic group in the country.They can be found in 31 Chinese provincial regions. They also form the largest minority group in China without an autonomous region. Among them, Liaoning has the largest population and Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Beijing have over 100,000 Manchu residents. About half of the population live in Liaoning and one-fifth in Hebei. There are a number of Manchu autonomous counties in China, such as Xinbin, Xiuyan, Qinglong, Fengning, Yitong, Qingyuan, Weichang, Kuancheng, Benxi, Kuandian, Huanren, Fengcheng, Beizhen and over 300 Manchu towns and townships.
The actual etymology of the ethnic name “Manju” is debatable. According to the Qing dynasty’s official historical record, the Researches on Manchu Origins, the ethnic name came from Mañjuśrī. The Qianlong Emperor also supported the point of view and even wrote several poems on the subject.
Meng Sen, a famous scholar of the Qing dynasty, agreed, too. On the other hand, he thought the name “Manchu” was also related to Li Manzhu, the chieftain of the Jianzhou Jurchens. It was just the most respectful appellation in the society of the Jianzhou Jurchens in Meng’s mind.
Another scholar, Chang Shan, thinks Manju is a compound word. “Man” was from the word “mangga” (ᠮᠠᠩᡤᠠ) which means strong and “ju” (ᠵᡠ) means arrow. So Manju actually means “intrepid arrow”.
There are other hypotheses, such as Fu Sinian’s “etymology of Jianzhou”; Zhang Binglin‘s “etymology of Jianzhou”; Isamura Sanjiro’s “etymology of Wuji and Mohe”; Sun Wenliang’s “etymology of Manzhe”; “etymology of mangu(n) river” and so on.
The Jiu Manzhou Dang contains the earliest use of Manchu.