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China proper, Inner China or the Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the
Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
-led
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
to express a distinction between the core and frontier regions of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
. There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultural, and linguistic shifts have occurred in
Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...

Chinese history
. One definition refers to the original area of Chinese civilization, the
Central Plain
Central Plain
(in the
North China Plain 200px, The North China Plain is shown in dark. The Yellow River is shown as "Río Amarillo". The North China Plain () is a large-scale downfaulted rift basin formed in the late Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; ...
); another to the "Eighteen Provinces" system of the Qing dynasty. There is no direct translation for "China proper" in the
Chinese language Chinese ( or also , especially for the written language) is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...
due to differences in terminology used by the Qing to refer to the regions and the expression is controversial among scholars, particularly in China, due to national territorial claims.


Origin of the concept

It is not clear when the concept of "China proper" in the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
appeared. However, it is plausible that historians during the age of empires and the fast-changing borders in the eighteenth century, applied it to distinguish China's 18-provinces from its newly acquired properties. This would also apply to
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

Great Britain
proper versus the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
, which would encompass vast lands overseas. The same would apply to
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...

France
proper in contrast to the
French Empire#REDIRECT French Empire {{Redirect shell , {{R from ambiguous page {{R from other capitalisation ...
of the time, which
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
managed to expand all the way to
Moscow Moscow ( , American English, US chiefly ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐˈskva, a=Москва.ogg) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Russia by population, largest city of Russia. The city stands on the ...

Moscow
. According to Harry Harding, the concept can date back to 1827. But as early as in 1795,
William Winterbotham Rev. William Winterbotham (15 December 1763 – 31 March 1829) was a British Baptist Baptists form a major branch of Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against w ...
adopted this concept in his book. When describing the Chinese Empire under the Qing dynasty, Winterbotham divided it into three parts: China proper,
Chinese Tartary Chinese Tartary (see also Tartary) is an archaic geographical term used especially during the time of the Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Imperial China, imperial Dynasties in Chine ...
, and the states tributary to China. He adopted the opinions of
Du Halde Jean-Baptiste Du Halde (; 1 February 1674 – 18 August 1743) was a France, French Jesuit historian specializing in China. He did not travel to China, but collected seventeen Jesuit missionaries' reports and provided an encyclopedic survey of the ...
and Grosier and suspected that the name of "China" came from
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th ...

Qin dynasty
. He then said: "China, properly so called,... comprehends from north to south eighteen degrees; its extent from east to west being somewhat less..." However, to introduce China proper, Winterbotham still used the outdated 15-province system of the
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming dynasty
, which the Qing dynasty used until 1662. Although Ming dynasty also had 15 basic local divisions, Winterbotham uses the name of Kiang-nan (, Jiāngnán) province, which had been called
South Zhili South Zhili, formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and mode ...
(, Nán-Zhílì) during the Ming dynasty and was renamed to Kiang-nan (i.e., Jiangnan) in 1645, the second year after the Manchu Qing dynasty overthrew the Ming. This 15-province system was gradually replaced by the 18-province system between 1662 and 1667. Using the 15-province system and the name of Kiang-nan Province indicates that the concept of China proper probably had appeared between 1645 and 1662 and this concept may reflect the idea that identifies China as the territory of the former Ming dynasty after the
Qing conquest of the Ming The transition from Ming to Qing, Ming–Qing transition, or Manchu invasion of China from 1618 to 1683 saw the transition between two major Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasties in Chinese history. It was the decades-long conflict between th ...
. The concept of "China proper" also appeared before this 1795 book. It can be found in ''The Gentleman's Magazine'', published in 1790, and ''The Monthly Review'', published in 1749. In the nineteenth century, the term "China proper" was sometimes used by Chinese officials when they were communicating in foreign languages. For instance, the Qing ambassador to Britain
Zeng Jize Marquis Zeng Jize ( zh, 曾紀澤, s=曾纪泽; pinyin : Zēng Jìzé; Wade Giles, Tseng Chi-tse) (1839 – April 12, 1890) was a Qing dynasty Chinese diplomat. As one of China's earliest ministers to London, Paris and Saint Petersburg, he played an ...

Zeng Jize
used it in an English language article, which he published in 1887. Dulimbai Gurun is the Manchu name for China (, Zhongguo; "Middle Kingdom"). After conquering the Ming, the Manchu Qing identified their state as "China" (Zhongguo), and referred to it as "Dulimbai Gurun" in Manchu. The Manchu Qing Emperors equated the lands of the Qing state (including both "China proper" and present day Manchuria, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Tibet and other areas as "China" in both the Chinese and Manchu languages, defining China as a multi ethnic state, rejecting the idea that China only meant Han areas in "China proper", proclaiming that both Han and non-Han peoples were part of "China", using "China" to refer to the Qing in official documents, international treaties, and foreign affairs, and the "Chinese language" (Dulimbai gurun i bithe) referred to Chinese, Manchu, and Mongol languages, and the term "Chinese people" (, Zhongguo ren; Manchu: Dulimbai gurun i niyalma) referred to all Han, Manchus, and Mongol subjects of the Qing. When the Qing conquered Dzungaria in 1759, they proclaimed that the new land was absorbed into "China" (Dulimbai Gurun) in a Manchu language memorial. The Qing expounded on their ideology that they were bringing together the "outer" non-Han Chinese like the Manchus, Mongols, Uighurs and Tibetans together with the "inner" Han Chinese, into "one family" united in the Qing state, showing that the diverse subjects of the Qing were all part of one family, the Qing used the phrase "Zhong Wai Yi Jia" () or "Nei Wai Yi Jia" (, "interior and exterior as one family"), to convey this idea of "unification" of the different peoples. A Manchu language version of a treaty with the Russian Empire concerning criminal jurisdiction over bandits called people from the Qing as "people of the Central Kingdom (Dulimbai Gurun)" In the Manchu official Tulisen's Manchu language account of his meeting with the Torghut Mongol leader
Ayuki Khan
Ayuki Khan
, it was mentioned that while the Torghuts were unlike the Russians, the "people of the Central Kingdom" (dulimba-i gurun; , Zhongguo) were like the Torghut Mongols, and the "people of the Central Kingdom" referred to the Manchus. While the Manchu Qing used China (Zhongguo) to describe non-Han areas, some Han scholar-officials opposed the Qing Manchu Emperor's use of Zhongguo to refer to non-Han areas, using instead Zhongguo to mark a distinction between the culturally Han Chinese areas and the territory newly brought into the Manchu Qing empire. In the early 19th century,
Wei Yuan Wei Yuan (; April23, 1794March26, 1857), born Wei Yuanda (), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere ...

Wei Yuan
’s ''Shengwuji'' (Military History of the Qing Dynasty) calls the inner Asian polities ''guo'', while the seventeen provinces of the traditional heartland, that is, "China proper," and three eastern provinces of Manchuria are called "''Zhongguo''." Some Han Chinese Ming loyalists refused to use Zhongguo to refer to areas outside the borders of the Ming Empire such as outer Mongolia, in effect refusing to acknowledge the Qing state. The Manchu Qing referred to the Han Chinese inhabited 18 provinces as "nèidì shíbā shěng" (), which meant the "interior region eighteen provinces", or abbreviated it as "nèidì" (), "interior region" and also as "jùnxiàn" (), while they referred to the non-Han areas of China such as the
Northeast The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity ...

Northeast
, Outer Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet as "wàifān" () which means "outer feudatories" or "outer vassals", or as "fānbù" (, "feudatory region"). These waifan were fully subject to and governed by the Qing government and were considered part of the China (Zhongguo), unlike wàiguó (, "outer/foreign countries") like Korea, Vietnam, the Ryukyus and Japan, who paid tribute to the Qing China or were
vassal states A vassal state is any state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...
of China but were not part of China.


Political use

In the early 20th century, a series of Sino-Japanese conflicts had raised Chinese people's concern for national unity, and the concept of a unified, undivided Chinese nation became more popular among Chinese scholars. On Jan 1, 1939,
Gu Jiegang Gu Jiegang (8 May 189325 December 1980) was a Chinese historian best known for his seven-volume work '' Gushi Bian'' (, or ''Debates on Ancient History''). He was a co-founder and the leading force of the Doubting Antiquity School, and was highl ...
published his article "The term 'China proper' should be abolished immediately", which argued that the widely accepted area covered by "China proper" is not the actual territory of any of the
Chinese dynasties Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were Hereditary monarchy, hereditary Monarchy, monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of History of China, its history. From the inauguration of dynastic rule by Yu the Great in ...
. Gu further theorized that " 中国本部", the Chinese and Japanese term equal to "China proper" at the time, actually originated from Japan and was translated into "China proper", hence the concept of "China proper" was developed by Japanese people, and it had become a tool to divide Chinese people, making way for the Japanese invasion of Mongolia,
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...
, and all parts of China. Gu's article sparked a heated debate on the definition and origin of "Zhonghua minzu" (the Chinese Nation), which contributed to unifying the Chinese people in the Second Sino-Japanese war, and to an extent shaped the later established concept of Zhonghua minzu.


Modern

Today, China proper is a controversial concept in China itself, since the current official paradigm does not contrast the core and the periphery of China. There is no single widely used term corresponding to it in the
Chinese language Chinese ( or also , especially for the written language) is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...
. The separation of China into a "China proper" dominated by
Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
and one or more "Other Chinas" of ethnic minorities impugns on the legitimacy of China's current borders, which is based on the
succession of states Succession is the act or process of following in order or sequence. Governance and politics *Order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when it becomes vacated ...
principle. According to
Sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's ...
Colin Mackerras Colin Patrick Mackerras (; born 26 August 1939 Sydney, Australia) is an Australian sinologist, Emeritus Professor at Griffith University, and specialist in Chinese culture. He has published on Chinese drama, national minorities of China, Australi ...
, foreign governments have generally accepted Chinese claims over its minority areas, because to redefine a country's territory every time it underwent a change of regime would cause endless instability and warfare. Also, he asks, "if the boundaries of the Qing were considered illegitimate, why should it go back to the much smaller Ming in preference to the quite extensive
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
boundaries?"


Extent

There is no fixed extent for China proper, as it is used to express the contrast between the core and frontier regions of China from multiple perspectives: historical, administrative, cultural, and linguistic.


Historical perspective

One way of thinking about China proper is to refer to ancient Han Chinese
dynasties A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). Th ...
. Chinese civilization developed from a core region in the North China Plain, and expanded outwards over several millennia, conquering and assimilating surrounding peoples, or being conquered and influenced in turn. Some dynasties, such as the Han and Tang dynasties, were particularly expansionist, extending far into Central Asia, while others, such as the Jin and
Song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called s ...
dynasties, were forced to relinquish the North China Plain itself to rivals from Northeastern and Central Asia. The Ming Dynasty was the last Han Chinese dynasty and second-last imperial dynasty to rule China. It governed fifteen administrative entities, which included thirteen provinces () and two "directly-governed" areas. After the Manchu-founded Qing Dynasty succeeded the Ming Dynasty, the Qing court decided to continue to use the Ming administrative system to rule over former Ming lands, without applying it to other domains within the Qing Dynasty, namely Manchuria, Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet. The 15 administrative units of the Ming Dynasty underwent minor reforms to become the Eighteen Provinces (, or ) of China proper under the Qing Dynasty. It was these eighteen provinces that early Western sources referred to as China proper. There are some minor differences between the extent of Ming China and the extent of the eighteen provinces of Qing China: for example, some parts of Manchuria were a Ming possession belonging to the Ming province of Liaodong (now
Liaoning Liaoning (), is a coastal province in Northeast China Northeast China, is a geographical region of China. It usually corresponds specifically to the three province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country ...
); however, the Qing conquered it before the rest of China and did not put the region back into the provinces of China proper. On the other hand, Taiwan was a new acquisition of the Qing Dynasty, and it was put into
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
, one of the provinces of China proper. Eastern
Kham Kham (; ) is one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the others being Amdo in the northeast, and Ü-Tsang in central Tibet. The original residents of Kham are called Khampas (), and were governed locally by chieftains and monasteries. K ...

Kham
in Greater Tibet was added to
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
, while much of what now constitutes northern
Burma Myanmar (; my, မြန်မာ ) or Burma ( my, ဗမာ ), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos a ...

Burma
was added to
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
. Near the end of the Qing Dynasty, there was an effort to extend the province system of China proper to the rest of the empire. Taiwan was made into a separate province in 1885, but was ceded to Japan in 1895.
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
was reorganized into a province in 1884. Manchuria was split into the three provinces of
Fengtian
Fengtian
,
Jilin Jilin (; alternately romanized as Kirin or Chilin) is one of the three provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrat ...

Jilin
and
Heilongjiang Heilongjiang, formerly romanized as Heilungkiang, is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and a ...

Heilongjiang
in 1907. There was discussion to do the same in Tibet,
Kokonor
Kokonor
, Inner Mongolia, and Outer Mongolia, but these proposals were not put to practice, and these areas were outside the province system of China proper when the Qing Dynasty fell in 1912. The Provinces of the Qing Dynasty were: Some of the revolutionaries who sought to overthrow Qing rule desired to establish a state independent of the Qing Dynasty within the bounds of the Eighteen Provinces, as evinced by the Eighteen-Star Flag they used. Others favoured the replacement of the entire Qing Dynasty by a new republic, as evinced by the Five-Striped Flag they used. Some revolutionaries, such as
Zou Rong Zou Rong (; 1885 – 1905) was a China, Chinese nationalist, racialist and revolutionary martyr of the anti-Qing movement. He was born in Chongqing, Sichuan Province, his ancestors having moved there from Meizhou, Guangdong area. Zou was sent ...

Zou Rong
, used the term ''Zhongguo Benbu'' () which roughly identifies the Eighteen Provinces. When the Qing Dynasty fell, the abdication decree of the Qing Emperor bequeathed the entire Empire to the newborn
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
, and the latter idea was therefore adopted by the new republic as the principle of
Five Races Under One Union Five Races Under One Union was one of the major principles upon which the Republic of China Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Ear ...
, with Five Races referring to the Han Chinese, Manchus, Mongols, Muslims (Uyghurs, Hui etc.) and Tibetans. The Five-Striped Flag was adopted as the national flag, and the Republic of China viewed itself as a single state encompassing all five regions handed down by the Qing Dynasty. The People's Republic of China, which was founded in 1949 and replaced the Republic of China on the mainland, has continued to claim essentially the same borders, with the only major exception being the recognition of independent
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
. As a result, the concept of China proper fell out of favour in China. The Eighteen Provinces of the Qing Dynasty still exist, but their boundaries have changed.
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
and
Tianjin Tianjin (; ; Mandarin: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Tientsin, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality and a coastal metropolis in North China, Northern China on the shore of the Bohai Sea. It is ...

Tianjin
were eventually split from Hebei (renamed from Zhili),
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the sou ...

Shanghai
from Jiangsu,
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingu ...

Chongqing
from
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
,
Ningxia Ningxia (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Ninghsia), officially the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR), is a landlocked Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region in the Northwest China, northwest of the China, Pe ...

Ningxia
autonomous region from
Gansu Gansu (, ; alternately romanized as Kansu) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnatio ...

Gansu
, and
Hainan Hainan (, ; ) is the smallest and southernmost province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Hainan
from Guangdong. Guangxi is now an
autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country sub ...
. The provinces that the late Qing dynasty set up have also been kept:
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
became an autonomous region under the People's Republic of China, while the three provinces of Manchuria now have somewhat different borders, with Fengtian renamed as Liaoning. When the Qing Dynasty fell, Republican Chinese control of Qing territory, including of those generally considered to be in "China proper", was tenuous, and practically nonexistent in
Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, Monpa, Tamang people, Tamang, Qia ...
and
Outer Mongolia Outer Mongolia (Mongolian script: or , Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet, Mongolian Cyrillic: or , romanization: ''Gadaad Mongol'' or ''Alr Mongol''; Manchu language, Manchu: ''Tülergi Monggo''; )Huhbator Borjigin. 2004. The history an ...

Outer Mongolia
(since 1922), which were controlled by governments that declared independence. The Republic of China subdivided Inner Mongolia in its time on the mainland, although the People's Republic of China later joined Mongol-inhabited territory into a single autonomous region. The PRC joined the Qamdo area into the Tibet area (later the
Tibet Autonomous Region The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) or Xizang Autonomous Region, often shortened to Tibet or Xizang, is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , count ...
). Nationalist China was forced to acknowledge the independence of Mongolia (former Outer Mongolia) and
Tannu Uriankhai Tannu Uriankhai ( tyv, Таңды Урянхай, ; mn, Тагна Урианхай, ''Tagna Urianhai''; russian: Урянхайский край, ''Urjanchajskij kraj'', ; ) is a historic region of the Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of th ...
(now part of Russia as The Tyva Republic), in 1945.


Ethnic perspective

China proper is often associated with the Han Chinese, the majority ethnic group of China and with the extent of the Chinese languages, an important unifying element of the Han Chinese ethnicity. However, Han Chinese areas in the present day do not correspond well to the Eighteen Provinces of the Qing Dynasty. Much of southwestern China, such as areas in the provinces of
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
,
Guangxi Guangxi (; alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, uni ...

Guangxi
, and
Guizhou Guizhou (; alternately Kweichow) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Guizhou
, was part of successive Han Chinese dynasties, including the Ming Dynasty and the Eighteen Provinces of the Qing Dynasty. However, these areas were and continue to be populated by various non-Han Chinese minority groups, such as the
ZhuangZhuang may refer to: *Zhuang people (or Bouxcuengh people), ethnic group in China *Zhuang languages *Zhuang logogram *Zhuang Zhou, ancient Chinese philosopher *Zhuang (surname) (庄/莊), a Chinese surname {{disambiguation Language and nationality ...
, the
Miao people The Miao are a group of linguistically-related peoples living in Southern China and Southeast Asia, which are recognized by the government of China as one of the 56 List of ethnic groups in China, official ethnic groups. The Miao live primarily i ...
, and the
Bouyei Bouyei can refer to: *Bouyei language *Bouyei people {{disambig Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
. Conversely, today Han Chinese form the majority in most of Manchuria, much of Inner Mongolia, many areas in Xinjiang and scattered parts of Tibet, not least due to the expansion of Han Chinese settlement encouraged by the late Qing dynasty, the Republic of China, and the People's Republic of China. Ethnic Han Chinese is not synonymous with speakers of the Chinese language. Many non-Han Chinese ethnicities, such as the
Hui The Hui people ( zh, c=, p=Huízú, w=Hui2-tsu2, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the origina ...
and Manchu, are essentially monolingual in Chinese, but do not identify as Han Chinese. The Chinese language itself is also a complex entity, and should be described as a family of related languages rather than a single language if the criterion of
mutual intelligibility In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
is used to classify its subdivisions. In polls a slim majority of the people of Taiwan call themselves "Taiwanese" only with the rest identifying as "Taiwanese and Chinese" or "Chinese" only. 98% of the people of Taiwan are descendants of immigrants from China since the 1600s, but the inclusion of Taiwan in China, or in the China proper, is still a controversial subject. See
History of Taiwan The history of the island of Taiwan dates back tens of thousands of years to the earliest known evidence of human habitation. The sudden appearance of a culture based on agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivat ...

History of Taiwan
and
Political status of Taiwan The controversy regarding the political status of Taiwan, sometimes referred to as the ''Taiwan Issue'' or ''Taiwan Strait Issue'' or, from a Taiwanese perspective, as the ''mainland Issue'', is a result of the Chinese Civil War The Chines ...
for more information. File:Ethnolinguistic_map_of_China_1983.png, The approximate extent of the Han Chinese ethnicity, denoted in brown. Scattered distribution is denoted by circles. Although Han Chinese also live elsewhere, only China is shown.


See also

*
Names of China The names of China include the many contemporary and historical appellations given in various languages for the East Asian country known as ''Zhōngguó'' (/, "central state") in its official language An official language, also called state lang ...
* Annam * Chinese world **
Greater China "Greater China" is an informal geographical area that shares commercial and cultural ties with the Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal di ...

Greater China
*
Mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies ...

Mainland China
*
Metropole The metropole (from the Greek ''metropolis in the background A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation which is a significant economic, political, and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or int ...

Metropole
*
North China Plain 200px, The North China Plain is shown in dark. The Yellow River is shown as "Río Amarillo". The North China Plain () is a large-scale downfaulted rift basin formed in the late Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; ...
*
Inner Asia Inner Asia refers to landlocked regions within East Asia and North Asia that are part of today's Western China, Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongolian: , Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: ') is a landlocked country in ...
** Qing dynasty in Inner Asia *
Outer Mongolia Outer Mongolia (Mongolian script The classical or traditional Mongolian script, also known as the , was the first writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from ...
*
Outer Manchuria Outer Manchuria (russian: Приаму́рье, translit=Priamurye; zh, t=外東北, p=Wài Dōngběi, l=Outer Northeast) or Russian Manchuria is a term for a territory in Northeast Asia that is part of Russia Russia (russian: link=no, ...
*
Sinocentrism Sinocentrism refers to the worldview that China is the cultural, political or economic center of the world. It may be considered analogous to Eurocentrism Eurocentrism (also Eurocentricity or Western-centrism) is a worldview that is centered ...
*
Zhonghua Minzu ''Zhonghua minzu'' (; "Chinese nation") is a key political term in modern Chinese nationalism The current Flag of China, national flag of the China, People's Republic of China (1949–present), representing a variety of Chinese national ...
* Chinese macro-regions—Socio-economic divisions of China proper *
Willow Palisade Willow Palisade (; mnc, m=, v=Biregen Jase, ᠠ=Biregen Jase) was a system of ditches and embankments planted with willows intended to restrict movement into Manchuria, built by the Qing dynasty during the later 17th century. It is often convenien ...
*
Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China () is a series of fortifications that were built across the historical northern borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China as protection against Eurasian nomads, various nomadic groups from the Eurasian Step ...

Great Wall of China
*
Serbia proper Central Serbia ( sr, централна Србија, centralna Srbija), also referred to as Serbia proper ( sr, link=no, ужа Србија, uža Srbija), is the region of Serbia lying outside the provinces of Vojvodina to the north and the disput ...


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * Du Halde, Jean-Baptiste (1736). ''The General History of China. Containing a geographical, historical, chronological, political and physical description of the empire of China, Chinese-Tartary, Corea and Thibet...'', London: J. Watts. * Grosier, Jean-Baptiste (1788). ''A General Description of China. Containing the topography of the fifteen provinces which compose this vast empire, that of Tartary, the isles, and other tributary countries...'', London: G.G.J. and J. Robinson. * Darby, William (1827). ''Darby's Universal Gazetteer, or, A New Geographical Dictionary. ... Illustrated by a ... Map of the United States'' (p. 154),. Philadelphia: Bennett and Walton. * * * * * * *


External links


China
The Catholic Encyclopedia

{{DEFAULTSORT:China Proper Historical regions Geography of China Metropolitan or continental parts of states