Ethnic identification in China
HOW MANy nationalities are there in China?
When Dr. Sun yat-sen founded the Republic of China in 1912, he defined it as a “Republic of Five Nationalities,” meaning the Hans, the Manchus, the Mongolians, the Huis and the Tibetans. The declaration was disavowed by the Chiang Kai-shek government, which asserted that all minorities were but offshoots of the Hans. Ethnologists thought otherwise, but no ethnic identification was possible under the circumstances.
The People’s Republic of China, founded in 1949, committed itself to ethnic equality as a basic tenet. But the principle would have been meaningless without proper recognition of existing nationalities. For how could a People’s Congress allocate its seats to deputies from different nationalities without knowing what nationalities there were? And how could the nation effect regional autonomy for the nationalities without a clear idea of their geographical distribution?