Journal of International Affairs

Culture, "Race" and Nation: The Formation of National Identity in Twentieth Century China

By Frank Dikötter

Nationalism in the post-Tiananmen era is a worrying phenomenon that may be better understood when seen from a historical perspective. Before we examine the formation of national identity in twentieth century China, however, it may be instructive to clarify what is understood by the term nationalism. Nationalism, in its broadest sense, endows the members of a national population, variously referred to as nation, people, nationality or even "race," with an identity which is thought to be unique and distinct from other population groups. A nation, however defined, is thus thought to be a relatively homogeneous entity with shared characteristics which transcend internal divisions of class, status and region. The criteria of membership of the nation, however, can vary enormously, and the very elusive nature of nationalism is perhaps one of its greatest appeals, as it can be adapted to a great variety of different circumstances. Given the multifarious nature of nationalism, it would be futile to try to define it by way of one or another objective factor. As Liah Greenfeld underlines, there are as many different forms of nationalism as there are definitions of what constitutes a nation: territory, language, culture, religion, history or "race," all are possible but not necessary factors in the creation of national identity. 1

Rather than attempting to find a definition of the nation on the basis of its constitutive elements, the different organizing strategies of nationalism can be more usefully distinguished. The sociologist John Hutchinson has highlighted two types of nationalism. 2 Political nationalism, or civic nationalism, explicitly concerned with the individual rights of equal citizens, is based on a cosmopolitan and rationalist conception of the nation in which educated individuals are united by common laws and mores. Civic nationalism anticipates a common humanity which transcends cultural differences, but in the meantime accepts the division of the world in different political communities. Its objective is the construction of a representative state for the community in order to participate as an equal nation in a developing cosmopolitan civilization based on reason. Cultural nationalism, in contrast, imagines the nation to have a distinctive civilization based on a unique history, culture and territory. Nations, according to cultural nationalists, are not merely rational political units, but organic beings that have been endowed with a unique individuality which should be treasured by all its members: Nature and history, rather than mere consent or law, are the passions which bind the individual to the nation. Cultural nationalism rejects the ideal of universal citizenship rights and insists that the presumed natural divisions between nations and within the nation be respected. As such, cultural nationalists see the nation as an organic entity only in a metaphoric sense.

In addition to these two typologies of nationalism, I would add a third one which can be called racial nationalism. Although racial nationalists also represent the nation as a unique entity endowed by cosmology with a particular history and culture, they portray it above all as a pseudo-biological entity united by ties of blood. 3 In their conflation of race and culture, racial nationalists represent cultural features as secondary to and derivative of an imagined biological specificity. The individual is first ascribed a membership to the community by virtue of a real or imagined congenital endowment, and only secondly on the basis of cultural features: National culture is perceived to be the product of a racial essence. Cultural nationalists seek to integrate and harmonize notions of tradition and modernity in an evolutionary vision of the community. In contrast, the positing of an immutable biological essence, based on a patrilineal line of descent, allows racial nationalists to explicitly reject tradition and culture and embrace a vision of modernity in an iconoclastic attack on the past while preserving a sense of national uniqueness.

These three different organizing strategies of nationalism can overlap considerably and even alternate from one into the other. Since its inception in the late nineteenth century to its more recent manifestations in the post-Tiananmen era, however, cultural and racial nationalism have very much dominated the cultural and political domains in China. This article argues that a discourse of patrilineal descent has emerged as a very powerful and cohesive form of national identity in China which has been capable of transcending the extreme diversity of religious practices, family structures, spoken languages and regional cultures of population groups that all define themselves as "Chinese." "Chineseness," in Taiwan, Singapore or mainland China, is primarily defined as a matter of blood and descent. One does not become Chinese like one becomes Swiss or Dutch, since cultural integration (language) or political adoption (passport) are both excluded as means of becoming "Chinese." 4 Racial nationalism, of course, has undergone numerous permutations, reorientations and rearticulations since the end of the nineteenth century. Its flexibility and variability is part of its enduring appeal, as it constantly adapts to different political and social contexts, from the racial ideology of an economically successful city-state like Singapore to the eugenic policies of the Communist party in mainland China. It is not suggested here that racialized senses of belonging were the only significant forms of national identity available in China: It should be emphasized, however, that notions of culture, race and nation have consistently been conflated throughout the twentieth century in efforts to portray cultural features as secondary to an imagined biological specificity. Far from being a mere copy or a "derivative discourse" of a more "authentic" form of nationalism in the West, narratives of blood and descent in China have always been based on the active reconfiguration of indigenous modes of representation. National identity has been actively reconstructed and endowed with indigenous meanings that are specific to China. Modernizing intellectuals in China drew inspiration from foreign cultural repertoires, appropriated the language of nationalism, invested new ideas with native meanings and nuances, reinterpreted modern political ideologies, reconstructed their cultural heritage, and finally, actively invented their own versions of identity and modernity. Finally, this article contends that racial nationalism thrived largely thanks to, and not in spite of, folk models of identity, based on patrilineal descent and common stock. Instead of crude generalizations about the role of the state in the spread of nationalism, which would have been disseminated from top to bottom, or the popular "cloud to dust" theory of cultural change, a degree of circularity, or reciprocal interaction, between popular culture and officially sponsored discourses of the nation is posited. More stable folk notions of patrilineal descent, which were widespread in late imperial China, were reconfigured from the late nineteenth century onwards. Indigenous notions of identity were reinforced and enriched by the use of new vocabularies, as nationalist intellectuals selectively appropriated elements from the language of science. Lineage discourse was perhaps one of the most prominent elements in the construction of symbolic boundaries between population groups defined as nations. 5

The Yellow Emperor and the Nation-Race  

In a recent definition of "Chineseness," the prominent intellectual Su Xiaokang affirmed: "This yellow river, it so happens, bred a nation identified by its yellow skin pigment. Moreover, this nation also refers to its earliest ancestor as the Yellow Emperor. Today, on the face of the earth, of every five human beings there is one that is a descendant of the Yellow Emperor." 6 In Su Xiaokang's definition, "Chineseness" is primarily interpreted as a matter of blood and descent. Cultural features, such as "Chinese civilization" or "Confucianism," are thought to be the product of that imagined biological group; they are secondary and can be changed, reformed or even eradicated. Confucian scholar or socialist cadre, Hunanese peasant or Hong Kong entrepreneur, one will always be "Chinese" by virtue of one's blood, according to Su Xiaokang. The conflation of "race," descent and nation has been expressed throughout the twentieth century by the term minzu, signifying both a descent group and a cultural community. Although the term minzu has been deployed in a diversity of contexts, it is most often used as something roughly equivalent to "nation-race" when used to describe "Chineseness." Distinctions between "race" (zhongzu) and "nation-race" (minzu) have clearly been important: The term race refers to the presumed biological and genetic features of a population groups which generally transcend the level of nation-race. In the racial taxonomies which have been variously deployed in twentieth century China, the "yellow race" (huangzhong) is often seen to be endowed with superior attributes in comparison to the "black race" (heizhong) and the "brown race" (zongzhong). "Nation-race" is seen as a sub-branch of a broader "race" distinguished by unique cultural features. Typically, "the Chinese" are seen as the core "nation-race" (zhonghua minzu) within a larger group defined as the "yellow race." Often, however, notions of race and nation-race are collapsed and "yellow" simply signifies "Chinese." As Sun Yat-sen (1866 to 1925), the principal proponent of a Chinese nation-race, put it in his famous Three Principles of the People, "The greatest force is common blood. The Chinese belong to the yellow race because they come from the blood stock of the yellow race. The blood of ancestors is transmitted by heredity down through the race, making blood kinship a powerful force." 7 A textbook used in primary schools in the beginning of the 1920s explained to its readers that:

Mankind is divided into five races. The yellow and white races are relatively strong and intelligent. Because the other races are feeble and stupid, they are being exterminated by the white race. Only the yellow race competes with the white race. This is so-called evolution....Among the contemporary races that could be called superior, there are only the yellow and the white races. China is [i.e., belongs to] the yellow race. 8

The great appeal of the notion of nation-race in China is no doubt due to its indigenous nature, as it has been largely constructed on the basis of the lineage institution. The Qing era (1644 to 1911) in particular was marked by a consolidation of the cult of patrilineal descent, which was the center of a broad movement of social reform that had emphasized the family and the lineage (zu) since the collapse of the Ming in 1644. 9 Considerable friction arose between lineages throughout the nineteenth century in response to heightened competition over natural resources, the need to control market towns, the gradual erosion of social order and organizational disorders caused by demographic pressures. Lineage feuds, as well as interethnic conflicts, prevailed throughout the empire, but were more common in the Southeast, where the institution of the lineage had grown more powerful than in the North. 10 The militarization of powerful lineages reinforced folk models of kinship solidarity, forcing in turn more loosely organized associations to form a unified descent group under the leadership of the gentry. At court level too, ideologies of descent became increasingly important, in particular with the erosion of a sense of cultural identity among Manchu aristocrats. Racial identity through patrilineal descent became important in the Qianlong period (1736 to 1795), when the court progressively turned towards a rigid taxonomy of distinct descent lines (zu) to distinguish between Han, Manchu, Mongol or Tibetan. 11 Within three distinct social levels, namely popular culture, gentry society and court politics, more stable folk notions of patrilineal descent came to be used on a widespread scale in the creation and maintenance of group boundaries.

The construction of national identity during the last decade of the nineteenth century was mainly the work of the 1898 reformers, who championed a radical transformation of imperial institutions and orthodox ideology. In contrast to their precursors, they promoted an alternative body of knowledge which derived its legitimacy independently from the official examination system. The product of a fusion between different indigenous strains of knowledge and foreign discursive repertoires, the reformers promoted a racialized vision of the lineage institution. Modernizing reformers like Liang Qichao and Kang Youwei selectively appropriated scientific knowledge and actively manipulated evolutionary theories to bolster theories of pure origins; they reconfigured folk notions of patrilineal descent into a national identity which represented all inhabitants of China as the descendants of the Yellow Emperor. The semantic similarity between zu as lineage and zu as race was rearticulated in a new identity called huangzu, meaning both "lineage of the Yellow Emperor" and "yellow race." Thriving on its affinity with lineage discourse, the notion of a nation-race thus gradually emerged as the most common symbol of national cohesion, permanently replacing more conventional emblems of cultural identity.

The myth of blood was further sealed by the turn of the century when the revolutionaries created a national symbol out of the Yellow Emperor. Liu Shipei, one of the most influential nationalist intellectuals, to take but one example, advocated the introduction of a calendar in which the foundation year corresponded to the birth of the Yellow Emperor. "They [the reformers] see the preservation of religion as a handle, so they use the birth of Confucius as the starting date of the calendar; the purpose of our generation is the preservation of the race, so we use the birth of the Yellow Emperor as a founding date." 12 Early twentieth century revolutionaries like Chen Tianhua infused kin terms, previously used in lineage discourse, into racial frames of reference to foster the much needed bonds of national loyalty: "The racial feeling comes from birth onwards. For the members of one's own race, there is surely mutual intimacy and love; for the members of a foreign race, there is surely mutual savagery and killing." 13 The idea of nation-race integrated both the notion of people (min) and the fiction of descent (zu), and was seen by many nationalists in China as the only concept capable of transcending gender, class and region to integrate the nation's subjects into a powerful community. After the fall of the last dynasty in 1911, a growing number of nationalist intellectuals increasingly invoked scientific categories of analysis in their search for national wealth and power. If the empire's prosperity was previously defined in terms of grain or silver, the nation-race was now valued as the main source of social and economic wealth, a force of great potential which should be properly measured and managed by the state. 14 Although it is clear that individual writers, political groups and academic institutions had different ideas about the meanings of nationalism, many people in China had come to identify themselves and others in terms of "nation-race" by the end of the Republican period. The success of nationalism in China, in other words, was the result of a significant degree of convergence between popular culture and officially sponsored discourses of race and of the reconfiguration of more stable notions of descent, lineage and genealogy. Its fundamental role in the construction of racialized boundaries between self and other, its powerful appeal to a cultural sense of belonging based on presumed immutable links of blood, its authoritative worldview in which different peoples could be ranked into nation-races (each with its own ancestor, territory and culture), all these different aspects endowed nationalism with a singular resilience: It shaped the identity of millions of people in Republican China, as it had done for people in Europe and the United States.

Racial frames of reference never disappeared from the People's Republic of China: Although the idea of "nation-race" was officially extended to include all the so-called "national minorities" living within the political boundaries of the country, in practice it has remained confined to the "Han" only. Similar to the racial taxonomies used by the reformers at the end of the nineteenth century, as the only concept capable of transcending gender, class and region"national minorities" are represented as less evolved branches of people who need the moral and political guidance of the "Han" in order to ascend on the scales of civilization. The representation of the "Han" as a more highly evolved and better endowed nation-race has generally increased within popular culture, scientific circles and government publications in the Deng Xiaoping era.

University students, in opposition to the government, have been the most prominent social group involved in one of the more recent attempts to promote skin color as a marker of social status. Physical attacks and demonstrations against African students on the university campuses of the People's Republic of China throughout the 1980s have been the most widely publicized feature of these racialized practices. 15 Far from being a manifestation of a vestigial form of xenophobia, these events are an intrinsic part of racial nationalism which have been diversely used in China since the end of the nineteenth century. Articulated in a distinct cultural site (university campuses) by a specific social group (university students) in the political context of the reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping since 1978, campus racism demonstrates how contradictory discourses of "race" and "human rights" can be harnessed together in politicized oppositions to the state. Six months after their mass demonstrations against Africans in Nanjing, alleged to have violated the purity of Chinese girls ("daughters" of the "race"), students were occupying Tiananmen square in the name of the nation. Scientists, more recently, have also contributed to the promotion of racial definitions of national identity. 16 In their representation of folk notions of patrilineage as "science," many have represented Beijing Man at Zhoukoudian as the "ancestor" of the "mongoloid race." A great number of hominid teeth, skull fragments and fossil apes have been discovered from different sites scattered over China since 1949, and these finds have been used to support the view that the "Han" nation-race today is in a direct line of descent from its hominid ancestor in China. Serological studies are invoked to underline that the "Han" are the main branch of all the different population groups in China and that all "minority" groups ultimately belong to the "yellow race": The political boundaries of the People's Republic of China, in other words, are claimed to be founded on clear biological markers of genetic distance. Even Outer Mongolia has recently been portrayed as an "organic and integral part" of the "Chinese race" in a propaganda book called The Inside Story of Outer Mongolia's Independence. 17 Within both intellectual circles and government publications, the people of China are increasingly represented as the descendants of the Yellow Emperor. Contemporary China, in short, is not so much a "civilization pretending to be a state," in the words of Lucien Pye, but rather an empire claiming to be a nation-race. 18

The Nationalist Intelligentsia and the Regeneration of the Nation-Race  

As with the formulation of a historicist ideology in many types of cultural nationalism, racial nationalism in China has principally been articulated by modernizing intellectuals. 19 Posing as the moral regenerators of the nation-race and the very embodiment of its spirit, they have been instrumental in constructing new national identities in times of social crisis, from the Reform Movement in 1898 and the New Culture Movement in 1915 to the demonstrations on Tiananmen square in 1989. Occasionally a focus of opposition to the state in times of political crisis, sometimes forced to participate in its policies in order to implement their vision of national revival, nationalist intellectuals are more concerned with the revival of national culture than with the construction of an autonomous state. The very essence of the nation is thought to be located in the racial and cultural uniqueness of the people, which should be resurrected from the bottom up, rather than constructed like a state from above. A profound sense of contempt for bureaucrats in particular, and the state in general, has pervaded the attitudes of modernizing intellectuals: Since the nation-race is claimed to have its own distinctive national culture, characterized by a long and uninterrupted history, only intellectuals are entitled to revive and maintain that common heritage. The imperial reformers in the 1890s, the new intelligentsia in the 1910s and intellectual circles in the Deng Xiaoping era typically established study societies, published cultural journals, founded publishing houses and organized institutions of learning to spread the national culture, educate the people to the history of the nation and warn the country against the imminent extinction of the nation-race. The self-identification of intellectuals with the cause of the country was so intense that Zhang Binglin, a fervent nationalist active in the first two decades of this century, even suggested that "Chinese culture" would disappear with his own death. A sense of national mission, messianic aspirations and an inflated ego on the part of nationalist intellectuals has often clashed with the reality of their own alienated position in society, leading to even more fervent nationalist claims of moral regeneration. Modernizing intellectuals, from the imperial reformers to today's dissidents, have been crusaders animated by a grandiose vision of self-importance: They have represented themselves as the repositories of culture and the saviors of the nation. Self-criticism and self-loathing, from Chen Duxiu's indictment of Confucianism to the Taiwanese intellectual Bo Yang's more recent book entitled The Ugly Chinese, has also been common to many nationalist movements. 20 Public admission of national weakness and sensitivity are considered to be clear proof of the nation's own moral superiority. Feelings of self-deprecation, complaints about an exaggerated sensitivity and a sense of internal vengefulness have characterized cultural nationalism: Other nations are always thought to be more united and free from complexes, as well as from any finesses of character and the burdens of over-intelligence.

Condescension has not only marked the nationalists' attitude towards other peoples: It has also figured prominently in their approach towards the community, always represented as uneducated "masses," coarse "peasants" or insincere "petty people." Like their imperial predecessors, the intellectual elite in Republican China (1911 to 1949) firmly believed that the scholar should operate on behalf of the whole of society. They were convinced that national reconstruction was the responsibility of a select few. China, wrote the celebrated intellectual Hu Shi in 1915, needed a form of government that would "enable the enlightened class of people to utilize their knowledge and talents for the education and betterment of the ignorant and indifferent." Jiang Menglin, a prominent nationalist and educator, commented that "our motto is government of the people, for the people, and by the educated class." 21 From benevolent Confucian scholar to activist nationalist was only a small step.

More important historically, this specialized elite has been instrumental in the formation of national identity. They have delimited national culture, redefined group membership, recreated social hierarchy and rewritten history. The history of the nation-race, in their view, has been a long series of humiliating encounters that demand to be redressed. Half a century before the emergence of nationalism in China, the scholar-official Feng Guifen (1809 to 1874) wrote about the intrusion of foreign powers: "We are shamefully humiliated by the four [Western] nations, not because our climate, soil, or products are inferior, but actually because our people are inferior....Our inferiority is not due to nature, it is inferiority due to ourselves. If it were inborn, it would be a shame, but a shame we could not do anything about. Since the inferiority is due to ourselves, it is still a greater shame, but a shame we can do something about." 22 One of the first nationalists to propose the cultural regeneration of the country, Kang Youwei, even sent a memorandum to the throne in June 1898, invoking the sense of national humiliation: "Foreigners have for some time taken photographs to circulate among themselves and to laugh and sneer at our barbaric ways. But the most appalling and the most humiliating is the binding of women's feet, for which your servant feels deeply ashamed." 23 His pupil and fellow reformer Liang Qichao, in the preface to his Travel Notes on the New Continent, could only "sigh and weep when I compare our nation with theirs [America]." 24 Nationalism extends the sense of shame to every subject of the nation-race, mobilizing all around the fate of the nation. The theme of humiliation, still pervasive in China today, emerged as a consciously constructed emotion during the second half of the nineteenth century, and was given an emotional content through a long and complex process of internalization and habituation. Humiliation implied a sense of collective responsibility. The causes of failure could be attributed to the nation's lack of effort or ability, not to external factors independent of human will. It promoted voluntarist strategies of national revenge. Self-accusation completed the idea of causal attribution. The nation-race exacerbated the feeling of humiliation by accusing itself of failure: "We Chinese are less than black slaves" was a common expression. Once infused with an emotional content, the feeling of humiliation was used as a catalyst. It mobilized patriotism, promoted national solidarity, and addressed the sense of collective responsibility; it fostered outrage and created resentment favorable to voluntarist action. National humiliation was consecrated by government officials as a national event during the first decades of this century, and the Ministry of Education had it written in textbooks to "instil humiliation into the pupils mind" in order to arouse patriotism. 25 A few decades later, Mao Zedong proclaimed that "national consciousness, national self-respect and national self-confidence are not sufficiently developed among the broad masses." 26 Communist propaganda made sure that national identity figured at the top of the political agenda for decades after 1949.

If China's national history was a long series of humiliations that should instil a sense of outrage in all national subjects, the nation-race clearly had its enemies. Constitutive outsiders have been essential in the formation of national identity in twentieth century China. Without the constant threat of national extinction at the hands of evil-minded outsiders, where indeed would be the impulse to national union? Yan Fu, one of the most noted social reformers and a translator of English political philosophers, was the first to raise the threat of racial extinction by the end of the nineteenth century: "They will enslave us and hinder the development of our spirit and body....The brown and black races constantly waver between life and death, why not the 400 million of yellows?" 27 Whether a "white peril" leading to permanent enslavement in the 1890s, an imperialist plot to carve the country up like a melon in the 1910s, a bourgeois capitalist attempt at "spiritual pollution" in the 1980s or a sinister ploy towards "peaceful evolution" in the 1990s, "the West" has been constructed as the main enemy which the nation-race should resolutely combat. Here too, it would be wrong to see anti-imperialist discourse as a political strategy initiated by the state only: Recently, even opponents to the regime have been eager to deploy racial categories of analysis as a unifying concept against the threat of "Western culture." To take but one example, Yuan Hongbing, a lawyer at Beijing University who was briefly detained in February 1994 and has become a well-known figure in the public dissident movement, recently called for a "new heroicism" in order to save "the fate of the race" and for a "totalitarian" regime which would "fuse the weak, ignorant and selfish individuals of the race into a powerful whole." According to Yuan, only purification through blood and fire would provide a solution to China's problems: "on the battlefield of racial competition the most moving clarion call is the concept of racial superiority....Only the fresh blood of others can prove the strength of one race." 28 A vision of national superiority was thus asserted against an imagined enemy called "the West." Through a process of polarization, "the West" has constantly been forced into an artificial relationship of opposites with another construct called "China."

"The West," however, was also harnessed in the struggle against the enemy within, namely all the elements of "tradition" which were judged to be unfit for survival in an age of "modernity." Unambivalently characterized as either "Confucianism" or "feudalism," ideologies of the past had to be abandoned, if not systematically destroyed, in order to propel the nation-race forward from its backwardness into the vanguard of civilization. In the Occidentalist discourse of the New Culture Movement (1915 to 1924), which openly sought to introduce science and democracy into China, for instance, iconoclastic ideas have been projected onto the West, constructed as a homogeneous category which can be manipulated as an external source of authority in the cultural demolition of the past. The enemy within has thus been opposed with ideological tools appropriated from the West. "Science," "democracy" or "communism," selected elements from the West have often been erected as a totem (figuratively or literally, as with the Goddess of Democracy on Tiananmen Square). They have encapsulated all frustrated ideals, incorporated visions of the future and sanctioned the message of change. The relationship to the West has thus been indirect and oblique, as much a product of cultural discourse as a result of social encounter. The very tension between these contradictory representations of "the West" as a source of good and evil has been at the roots of national identity in China throughout the twentieth century.

Nationalist sentiments have found a wider audience both within state circles and within relatively independent intellectual spheres, particularly since the erosion of communist authority after the Tiananmen incident. Racial nationalism arising in a potentially unstable empire with an embattled Communist party could have grave consequences for regional stability in that vital part of the world, as it reinforces the portrayal of outer China, from Taiwan to Tibet, as "organic" parts of the sacred territory of the descendants of the Yellow Emperor that should be defended by military power if necessary. Similar to the first decades of this century, moreover, the multiplication of regional identities and the emergence of cultural diversity could prompt a number of political figures to appeal to racialized senses of belonging in order to supersede internal divisions. In contrast, multiple identities, free choice of ethnicity, ambiguity in group membership are not likely to appear as viable alternatives to more essentialist models of group definition. National identity, it should also be stressed, has often led to the rejection of hybridity, fluidity and heterogeneity in contemporary China. Racial and cultural nationalism, as was noted in the introductory comments, can nonetheless alternate and even lead to new forms of civic nationalism, as may be the case with Taiwan today. For such a political movement to succeed on the mainland, however, would require a commitment to democratic goals which may well be incompatible with the more narrow concerns of nationalist intellectuals and government circles alike.

Note 1: Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity  (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992) pp. 7-9. Back.

Note 2: John Hutchinson, The Dynamics of Cultural Nationalism  (London: Allen and Unwin, 1987) pp. 12-13. Back.

Note 3: I first proposed the term of racial nationalism in Frank Dikötter, "Racial Nationalisms in East Asia," The ASEN Bulletin , 7 (Summer 1994) pp. 8-10. Back.

Note 4: By "Chinese" and "Chineseness," I only refer to population groups who consider themselves to be "Han." There are many other population groups in the People's Republic of China who do not consider themselves to belong to the "Han," such as the Tibetans and the Uighurs. These different population groups are officially referred to as "national minorities," a term uncritically replicated by social scientists outside China. It should be clear, however, that many of these population groups were a "majority" on the territory they occupied until their forceful integration or colonization by the Ming and Qing empires. The political boundaries of the People's Republic of China today still approximately correspond to the boundaries achieved by the Qing empire in the nineteenth century. The term Zhongguoren, "people of the Middle Kingdom," theoretically refers to all people living inside China but is also limited in practice to the "Han," and cannot be imposed upon these different population groups either, despite official efforts by the government, since very few of them have voluntarily elected to be part of that country. Back.

Note 5: The following sections are discussed in much greater detail in Frank Dikötter, The Discourse of Race in Modern China , (London: C. Hurst; Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press; Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1992). Back.

Note 6: Su Xiaokang, "River Elegy," Chinese Sociology and Anthropology , 24, no. 2 (Winter 1991-1992) p. 9. Back.

Note 7: Sun Yat-sen, Sanminzhuyi (Three Principles of the People)  (Shanghai: Shangwu Yinshuguan, 1927) pp. 4-5.
Mankind is divided into five races. The yellow and white races are relatively strong and intelligent. Because the other races are feeble and stupid, they are being exterminated by the white race. Only the yellow race competes with the white race. This is so-called evolution....Among the contemporary races that could be called superior, there are only the yellow and the white races. China is [i.e., belongs to] the yellow race.8 Back.

Note 8: L. Wieger, Moralisme Officiel des Ecoles , en 1920, Hien-hien, 1921, p. 180, original Chinese text. Back.

Note 9: See Chow Kai-wing, The Rise of Confucian Ritualism in Late Imperial China: Ethics, Classics, and Lineage Discourse  (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994). Back.

Note 10: See H.J. Lamley, "Hsieh-tou: The Pathology of Violence in South-Eastern China," Ch'ing-shih Wen-t'i , 3, no. 7 (Nov. 1977) pp. 1-39. Back.

Note 11: Pamela Kyle Crossley, "The Qianlong Retrospect on the Chinese-Martial (Hanjun )
Banners," Late Imperial China , 10, no. 1 (June 1989) pp. 63-107, and "Thinking about Ethnicity in Early Modern China," Late Imperial China , 11, no. 1 (June 1990) p. 20. Back.

Note 12: Liu Shipei, " Huangdi Jinian Zhuo (About a Calendar Based on the Yellow Emperor)," Huangdi Hun (The Soul of the Yellow Emperor)  1904, p. 1. Reprint. Taipei: Zhonghua Minguo Shiliao Congbian, 1968. Back.

Note 13: Chen Tianhua, Chen Tianhua Ji (Collected Works of Chen Tianhua)  (Changsha: Hunan Renmin Chubanshe, 1982) p. 81. Back.

Note 14: On the intersection of nationalism and sexuality in China, see Frank Dikötter, Sex, Culture and Modernity in China  (London: Hurst and Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995). Back.

Note 15: See mini-symposium on "Racism in China," including Frank Dikötter, "Racial Identities in China: Context and Meaning"; Barry Sautman, "Anti-Black Racism in Post-Mao China"; and Michael J. Sullivan, "The 1988-89 Nanjing Anti-African Protests: Racial Nationalism or National Racism?" in The China Quarterly , no. 138 (June 1994) pp. 404-447. Back.

Note 16: See Frank Dikötter, "Racial Discourse in China: Permutations and Continuities" in Frank Dikötter, ed., The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan  (London: Hurst and Ithaca: Cornell University Press, forthcoming). Back.

Note 17: William J.F. Jenner, "Past and Present Political Futures for China," paper delivered at the 19th National Conference of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (Sydney: 9 October 1993) p. 13 Back.

Note 18: Lucien W. Pye, "China: Erratic State, Frustrated Society," Foreign Affairs , 69, no. 4 (Fall 1994) p. 58. Back.

Note 19: For an excellent sociological analysis of comparable features of cultural nationalism in other countries, see John Hutchinson, The Dynamics of Cultural Nationalism  (London: Allen and Unwin, 1987) chapter 1. Back.

Note 20: Bo Yang, Choulou de Zhongguoren (The Ugly Chinese)  (Taipei: Linbai Chubanshe, 1985). Back.

Note 21: Both quotations are taken from C.W. Hayford, To the People: James Yen and Village China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990) p. 12. Back.

Note 22: Feng Guifen, "Zhi Yangqi Yi" (Views Concerning the Manufacture of Foreign Instruments) in Jiaobinlu Kangyi (Protests from the Jiaobin Studio)  (Taipei: Wenhai Chubanshe, 1971) pp. 58b-59a. Back.

Note 23: Kang Youwei, Kang Youwei Shiwen Xuan (Selected Poems and Writings of Kang Youwei) (Beijing: Renmin Wenxue Chubanshe, 1990) p. 95. Back.

Note 24: Liang Qichao, "Xin Dalu Youji" (Travel Notes on the New Continent) in Liang Qichao, Yinbingshi Zhuanji (Writings of Liang Qichao)  (Shanghai: Zhonghua Shuju, 1941) Back.

Note 25: Luo Zhitian, "National Humiliation and National Assertion: The Chinese Response to the Twenty-One Demands," Modern Asian Studies,  27, no. 2 (May 1993) pp. 309-11. Back.

Note 26: Mao Zedong, Selected Works,  2 (Beijing: Foreign Language Press , 1977) p. 197. Back.

Note 27: Yan Fu, Yan Fu Shiwen Xuan (Selected Poems and Writings of Yan Fu)  (Beijing: Renmin Wenxue Chubanshe, 1959) p. 22. Back.

Note 28: Yuan Hongbing, Huangyuan Feng (Winds on the Plain)  (Beijing: Xiandai Chubanshe, 1990) p. 193, quoted in Geremie BarmJ, "To Screw Foreigners is Patriotic: China's Avant-garde Nationalists," The China Journal,  34 (July 1995) pp. 229-230. Back.