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Sinicization, sinicisation, sinofication, or sinification, (Chinese: 汉化; pinyin: Hànhuà), also called chinalization (Chinese: 中国化; pinyin: Zhōngguóhuà), is a process whereby non-Han Chinese societies come under the influence of Han Chinese state and society. Areas of influence include alphabet, diet, economics, industry, language, law, lifestyle, politics, religion, sartorial choices, technology, culture, and cultural values. More broadly, "Sinicization" may refer to policies of acculturation, assimilation, or cultural imperialism of neighbouring cultures to China, depending on historical political relations. This is reflected in the histories of Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan in the East Asian cultural sphere, for example, in the adoption of the Chinese writing system.


  • Integration 1
  • Historical examples of sinicization 2
    • Austronesian peoples 2.1
    • Turkic peoples 2.2
    • Tang dynasty 2.3
    • Yuan dynasty 2.4
    • Ming dynasty 2.5
    • Qing dynasty 2.6
  • Modern examples of sinicization 3
    • Kuomintang 3.1
    • Ma Clique 3.2
    • Xinjiang 3.3
    • Taiwan 3.4
    • Tibet 3.5
  • In popular culture 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The integration policy is a type of nationalism aimed at strengthening of the Chinese identity among population. Proponents believe integration will help to develop shared values, pride in being the country’s citizen, respect and acceptance towards cultural differences among citizens of China. Critics argue that integration destroys ethnic diversity, language diversity, and cultural diversity. Analogous to North America with approximately 300 Native American languages and distinct ethnic groups, in China there are 292 non-Mandarin languages spoken by native peoples of the region. [1] There are also a number of immigrant languages, such as Khmer, Portuguese, English, etc.

Historical examples of sinicization

Austronesian peoples

Before sinicization, Austronesian speakers spread down the coast of southern China past Taiwan as far as Gulf of Tonkin. In times, the southward spread of Han Chinese led to the sinicization of all Austronesian speakers population that remained on the mainland, whether in the Yangzi Valley or in coastal areas from the mouth of the Yangzi to the gulf of Tonkin (a process that continue today in Taiwan).[1]

Turkic peoples

Descendants of Uyghurs who migrated to Taoyuan County, Hunan, have largely assimilated into the Han Chinese and Hui population and practice Chinese customs, speaking Chinese as their language.

Tang dynasty

During the 8th and 9th centuries in the Tang dynasty, Chinese soldiers moved into Guizhou (Kweichow) and married native women, their descendants being known as Lao-han-jen (original Chinese), in contrast to new Chinese people who colonized Guizhou at later times. They still speak an archaic dialect.[2] Many immigrants to Guizhou were descended from these soldiers in garrisons who married non-Chinese women.[3]

Yuan dynasty

The Mongol Yuan dynasty appointed a Muslim from Bukhara, Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar, as governor of Yunnan after conquering the Kingdom of Dali. Sayyid Ajjall then promoted Sinicization and Confucianization of the non-Han Chinese peoples in Yunnan during his reign. Sayyid Ajjal founded a "Chinese style" city where modern Kunming is today, called Zhongjing Cheng. He ordered that a Buddhist temple, a Confucian temple, and two mosques be built in the city.[4] Advocating Confucianism was part of his policy. The Confucian temple that Sayyid Ajjall built in 1274, which also doubled as a school, was the first Confucian temple ever to be built in Yunnan.[5]

Both Confucianism and Islam were promoted by Sayyid Ajall in his "civilizing mission" during his time in Yunnan.[6] Sayyid Ajall viewed Yunnan as "backward and barbarian" and utilized Confucianism, Islam, and Buddhism for "civilizing" the area.[7]

In Yunnan, the widespread presence of Islam is credited to Sayyid Ajjal's work.[8]

Sayyid Ajjal was first to bring Islam to Yunnan. He promoted Confucianism and Islam by ordering construction of mosques and temples of Confucianism.[9] Sayyid Ajjal also introduced Confucian education into Yunnan.[10][11] He was described as making 'the orangutans and butcherbirds became unicorns and phonixes and their felts and furs were exchanged for gowns and caps', and praised by the Regional Superintendent of Confucian studies, He Hongzuo.[12]

Shams al-Din constructed numerous Confucian temples in Yunnan, and promoted Confucian education. He is best known among Chinese for helping sinicize Yunnan province.[13] He also built multiple mosques in Yunnan as well.

Confucian rituals and traditions were introduced to Yunnan by Sayyid Ajall.[14] Several Confucian temples and schools were founded by him. Chinese social structures, and Chinese style funeral and marriage customs were spread to the natives by Sayyid Ajall.[7][15]

The aim of Sayyid Ajall's policy of promoting Confucianism and education in Yunnan was to "civilize" the native "barbarians". Confucian rituals were taught to students in newly founded schools by Sichuanese scholars, and Confucian temples were built.[16][17] The natives of Yunnan were instructed in Confucian ceremonies like weddings, matchmaking, funerals, ancestor worship, and kowtow by Sayyid Ajall. The native leaders has their "barbarian" clothing replaced by clothing given to them by Sayyid Ajall.[17][18]

Both Marco Polo and Rashid al-Din recorded that Yunnan was heavily populated by Muslims during the Yuan Dynasty, with Rashid naming a city with all Muslim inhabitants as the 'great city of Yachi'.[19] It has been suggested that Yachi was Dali City (Ta-li). Dali had many Hui people.[20]

His son Nasir al-Din became Governor of Yunnan in 1279 after sayyid Ajjal died.[21][22]

The historian Jacqueline Armijo-Hussein has written on Sayyid Ajall's Confucianization and Sinicization policies, in her dissertation Sayyid 'Ajall Shams al-Din: A Muslim from Central Asia, serving the Mongols in China, and bringing 'civilization' to Yunnan,[23] the paper The Origins of Confucian and Islamic Education in Southwest China: Yunnan in the Yuan Period,[24] and The Sinicization and Confucianization in Chinese and Western Historiography of a Muslim from Bukhara Serving Under the Mongols in China.[25]

Ming dynasty

Massive military campaigns were launched by the Ming dynasty during the Miao Rebellions against the southern aboriginal Miao, Yao, and other tribes, settled thousands of Han and Hui in their land after crushing and killing the aboriginals.

During the Ming conquest of Yunnan Chinese military soldiers were settled in Yunnan, and many married the native women.

Qing dynasty

The Manchu people became the rulers during the Qing dynasty. The "orthodox" historical view emphasized the power of Han Chinese to "sinicize" their conquerors, although more recent research such as the New Qing History school revealed Manchu rulers were savvy in their manipulation of their subjects and from the 1630s through at least the 18th century, the emperors developed a sense of Manchu identity and used Central Asian models of rule as much as Confucian ones. There is however evidence of sinicization. For example, Manchus originally had their own separate style of naming from the Han Chinese, but eventually adopted Han Chinese naming practices.

Manchu names consisted of more than the two or one syllable Chinese names, and when phonetically transcribed into Chinese, they made no sense at all.[26] The meaning of the names that Manchus used were also very different from the meanings of Chinese names.[27] The Manchus also gave numbers as personal names.[28]

They gave their children Chinese names, which were separate from the Manchu names, and even adopted the Chinese practice of generation names, although its usage was inconsistent and error ridden, eventually they stopped using Manchu names.[29]

The Niohuru family of the Manchu changed their family name to Lang, which sounded like "wolf" in Chinese, since wolf in Manchu was Niohuru.[30]

Although the Manchus replaced their Manchu names with Chinese personal names, the Manchu bannermen followed their traditional practice in typically used their first/personal name to address themselves and not their last name, while Han Chinese bannermen used their last name and first in normal Chinese style.[31][32]

Usage of surnames was not traditional to the Manchu while it was to the Han Chinese.[33]

Modern examples of sinicization


The Kuomintang pursued a sinicization policy, it was stated that "the time had come to set about the business of making all natives either turn Chinese or get out." by foreign observers on the Kuomintang policy. It was noted that "Chinese colonization" of "Mongolia and Manchuria" led to the conclusion "to a conviction that the day of the barbarian was finally over."[34][35][36]

Ma Clique

Hui Muslim General Ma Fuxiang created an assimilationist group and encouraged the integration of Muslims into Chinese society.[37] Ma Fuxiang was a hardcore assimilationist and said that Hui should assimilate into Han.[38]


The Hui Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) governed southern Xinjiang in 1934–1937. The administration that was set up was colonial in nature, putting up street signs and names in Chinese, which used to be in only Uighur language. They lived much like Han Chinese, importing Han cooks and baths.[39] The Hui also switched carpet patterns from Uyghur to Han in state owned carpet factories.[40]


After the Republic of China took control of Taiwan in 1945 and relocated its capital to Taipei in 1949, the intention of Chiang Kai-shek was to eventually go back to mainland China and retake control of it. Chiang believed that to retake mainland China, it would be necessary to re-Sinicize Taiwan's inhabitants who had undergone assimilation under Japanese rule. Examples of this policy included the renaming of streets with mainland geographical names, use of Mandarin Chinese in schools and punishments for using other regional languages, and teaching students to revere traditional ethics, develop pan-Chinese nationalism, and view Taiwan from the perspective of China.[41][42] Other reasons for the policy were to combat the Japanese influences on the culture that had occurred in the previous 50 years, and to help unite the recent immigrants from mainland China that had come to Taiwan with the KMT and among whom there was a tendency to be more loyal to one's city, country or province than to China as a nation.[43]

The process of re-asserting non-Chinese identity, as in the case of ethnic groups in Taiwan, is sometimes known as desinicization.


The sinicization of Tibet is the change of Tibetan society to Han Chinese standards, by means of cultural assimilation, immigration, and political reform.[44][45]

In popular culture

In some forms of fiction, due to China's communist statehood, Soviet-themed characters are de-Sovietized and switched over to become Chinese to fit modern (post-Cold War) times. The original cut of the 2012 Red Dawn remake depicted a Chinese invasion before having said information leaked to the Global Times, sparking controversy in China and threatening its airing in the country (the invaders were changed to North Koreans).[46] In 2006, Chinese versions of the Crimson Dynamo and the Abomination were created and made members of the Liberators in Marvel Comics.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ (English)
  3. ^ (English)
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Atwood, Christopher P. "Sayyid Ajall 'Umar Shams-ud-Din". Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc. (accessed July 29, 2014).
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^ (Original from the University of Virginia)
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Hui ethnic minority
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^
  19. ^ (Original from the University of Virginia)
  20. ^ (Original from the University of Virginia)
  21. ^ ( )
  22. ^ (Original from the University of Virginia)
  23. ^ Dissertations in Central Eurasian Studies
  24. ^ Session 8: Individual Papers: New Work on Confucianism, Buddhism, and Islam from Han to Yuan
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ Burbu, Dawa (2001) China's Tibet Policy, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-7007-0474-3, pp. 100–124
  45. ^ Samdup, Tseten (1993) Chinese population—Threat to Tibetan identity
  46. ^

External links

  • Sinicization vs. Manchuness (by Xiaowei Zheng).
  • Sinisation: à la limite de trois provinces de Chine, une minorité de plus en plus chinoise: les locuteurs kam, officiellement appelés Dong (in French)/ Sinicization: at the crossing of three China regions, an ethnic minority becoming increasingly more Chinese: the Kam People, officially called Dong People, Jean Berlie, Guy Trédaniel editor, Paris, France, published in 1998.
  • Sinisation d'une minorité de Chine, les Kam (Dong) (in French)/ Sinicization of the Kam (Dong People), a China minority, Jean Berlie, s.n. editor, published in 1994.
  • Islam in China, Hui and Uyghurs: between modernization and sinicization, the study of the Hui and Uyghurs of China, Jean A. Berlie, White Lotus Press editor, Bangkok, Thailand, published in 2004. ISBN 974-480-062-3, ISBN 978-974-480-062-6.
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