Sinicization, sinofication, sinification, or sinonization (from the prefix , 'Chinese, relating to China') is the process by which non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture, particularly Han-Chinese culture, language, societal norms, and ethnic identity. Areas of influence include diet,
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, science and technology, value systems, and Lifestyle (sociology), lifestyle. More broadly, ''sinicization'' may refer to processes or policies of acculturation, Cultural assimilation, assimilation, or cultural imperialism of norms from China on neighboring East Asian cultural sphere, East Asian societies, or on Ethnic minorities in China, minority ethnic groups within China. Evidence of this process is reflected in the histories of Chinese influence on Korean culture, Korea, Chinese influence on Japanese culture, Japan, and Sinicization of Vietnam, Vietnam in the adoption of Chinese literary culture, adoption of the Chinese writing system, which has long been a unifying feature in the Sinosphere as the vehicle for exporting Chinese culture to these Asian countries.


The integration or assimilation policy is a type of Chinese nationalism, nationalism aimed at strengthening the Chinese identity (''Zhonghua minzu'') among the 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 Indigenous languages of the Americas, Native American languages and distinct ethnic groups; in China there are 292 non-Mandarin Languages of China, languages spoken by native peoples of the region. There are also a number of Immigration to China, immigrant languages, such as Khmer language, Khmer, Portuguese language, Portuguese, English language, English, etc.

Historical examples

Proto Austronesian peoples

Before sinicization, non-Chinese indigenous peoples of South China, Southern China, collectively termed by the Chinese as ''Baiyue'' inhabited the coastline of China from as far north as the Yangtze, Yangtze River to as far south as the Gulf of Tonkin. Analysis of DNA recovered from human remains shows high frequencies of Haplogroup O1 in Liangzhu culture linking this culture to modern Austronesian peoples, Austronesian populations. It is believed that Liangzhu culture was the ancestral homeland of Proto-Austronesian populations before they Austronesian hypothesis, spread to Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Over time, the southward spread of Han Chinese led to the sinicization of most of the Baiyue populations that remained in Southern China, whether in the Yangtze River valley, Yangtze Valley or in coastal areas from the mouth of the Yangtze to the Gulf of Tonkin. The remnants of these peoples who were not fully sinicized are now recognized officially as the Ethnic minorities in China, ethnic minorities of the Peoples Republic of China, People's Republic of China.

Turkic peoples

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

Han, Jin, and Sixteen Kingdoms period

From the late Han Dynasty to the early Jin dynasty (265–420), large numbers of non-Chinese peoples living along China's northern periphery settled in northern China. Some of these migrants such as the Xiongnu and Xianbei had been pastoralist nomads from the northern steppes. Others such as the Di (Five Barbarians), Di and Qiang (historical people), Qiang were farmers and herders from the mountains of western Sichuan of southwest China. As migrants, they lived among ethnic Chinese and were sinified to varying degrees. Many worked as farm laborers. Some attained official positions in the court and military. The numerous tribal groups in the north and northwest who had been heavily drafted into the military then exploited the chaos to seize power by local Chinese warlords. During Three Kingdoms period, Cao Cao initiated the policy of settling Xiongnu nomads away from the frontier near Taiyuan in modern Shanxi province, where they would be less likely to rebel. The Xiongnu abandoned nomadism and the elite were educated in Chinese-Confucian literate culture. The migrant of Northern Chinese people to the south further settled China as a multi-ethnic empire.

Northern and Southern dynasties

The Northern and Southern dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 386 to 589, following the tumultuous era of the Sixteen Kingdoms period. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spread of Mahayana, Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism, Daoism. The period saw large-scale migration of Han Chinese to the lands south of the Yangtze. The period came to an end with the unification of all of China proper by Emperor Wen of Sui, Emperor Wen of the Sui dynasty. During this period, the process of Sinicization accelerated among the non-Han arrivals in the north and among the indigenous people in the south. This process was also accompanied by the increasing popularity of Buddhism (Chinese Buddhism#History, introduced into China in the 1st century) and Daoism in both northern and southern China.

Tang dynasty

During the 8th and 9th centuries in the Tang dynasty, Chinese male soldiers moved into Guizhou (Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanized as Kweichow) and married native non-Chinese 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 spoke an archaic dialect as of 1929. Many immigrants to Guizhou were descended from these soldiers in garrisons who married non-Chinese women.

Yuan dynasty

The Mongol Yuan dynasty appointed a Muslims, Muslim from Bukhara, ''Sayyid'' Ajall Shams al-Din Omar, as governor of Yunnan after conquering the Bai people, Bai Kingdom of Dali. Sayyid Ajall is best known among Chinese for helping sinicize the Yunnan province; the promotion of Islam in China, Islam, Confucianism, and Buddhism would be part of his 'civilizing mission' upon the non-Han Chinese peoples in Yunnan, who he viewed as "backward and barbarian." He founded a "Chinese style" city called Zhongjing Cheng, where modern Kunming is today, and ordered that a Buddhist temple, two mosques, and a Confucian Temple, Confucian temple be built in the city. The latter temple, built in 1274 and doubled as a school, was the first Confucian temple ever to be built in Yunnan. As such, Sayyid Ajall would be the one to introduce Confucian education, Confucian ritual religion, rituals, and traditions into Yunnan, including Chinese social structures, Chinese funeral rituals, funeral rituals, and Traditional Chinese marriage, marriage customs. He would go on to construct numerous Confucian temples throughout his reign. Confucian rituals were taught to students in newly founded schools by Sichuanese people, Sichuanese scholars. The natives of Yunnan were instructed by Sayyid Ajall in such Confucian ceremonies as weddings, matchmaking, funerals, ancestor worship, and kowtow. The native leaders had their "barbarian" clothing replaced by clothing given to them by Sayyid Ajall as well. The governor was praised and described as making "the orangutans and butcherbirds become unicorns and phoenixes and their felts and furs were exchanged for gowns and caps" by He Hongzuo, the Regional Superintendent of Confucian studies. Sayyid Ajall would also be the first to bring Islam to the area, and thus the widespread presence of Islam in Yunnan is credited to his work. Both Marco Polo and Rashid al-Din Vatvat 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." It has been suggested that Yachi was Dali City (''Ta-li''), which had many Hui people, Hui Muslim people. Sayyid Ajall's son Nasr al-Din (Yunnan), Nasir al-Din became Governor of Yunnan in 1279 after his death. Historian Jacqueline Armijo-Hussein has written on Sayyid Ajall's confucianization and sinicization policies in various papers, including in her dissertation "Sayyid 'Ajall Shams al-Din: A Muslim from Central Asia, serving the Mongols in China, and bringing 'civilization' to Yunnan" (1997); and in "The Origins of Confucian and Islamic Education in Southwest China: Yunnan in the Yuan Period" (n.d.) and "The Sinicization and Confucianization in Chinese and Western Historiography of a Muslim from Bukhara Serving Under the Mongols in China" (1989).

Ming dynasty

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

Qing dynasty

The rulers of the Qing dynasty were Manchu people, ethnic Manchus who adopted the norms of the Mandate of Heaven to justify their rules. 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 Confucianism, Confucian ones. There is also evidence of sinicization, however. 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. The meaning of the names that Manchus used were also very different from the meanings of Chinese names. The Manchus also gave numbers as personal names. Eventually, the Qing royal family (the Aisin Gioro) 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. The Niohuru family of the Manchu changed their family name to Lang (surname), Lang, which sounded like "wolf" in Chinese, since wolf in Manchu was Niohuru; thus forming a translation. Although the Manchus replaced their Manchu names with Chinese personal names, the Eight Banners, 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. Usage of surnames was not traditional to the Manchu while it was to the Han Chinese.

Nguyen dynasty (Vietnam)

The Vietnamese Nguyễn Emperor Minh Mạng sinicized ethnic minorities such as Cambodians, Chams and Montagnard (Vietnam), Montagnards, claimed the legacy of Vietnamese philosophy#Confucianism in Vietnam, Confucianism and China's Han dynasty for Vietnam. Directing his policies at the Khmer people, Khmer and hill tribes, Minh Mang declared that "We must hope that their barbarian habits will be subconsciously dissipated, and that they will daily become more infected by Han [Sino-Vietnamese] customs." Moreover, he would use the term ''Han'' () to refer to the Vietnamese people, and the name (中國, the same Chinese characters, hànzì as for 'China') to refer to Vietnam. Likewise, the lord Nguyễn Phúc Chu had referred to Vietnamese as ''Han'' people in 1712 when differentiating between Vietnamese and Chams. Chinese clothing was also adapted by the Vietnamese people under the Nguyễn dynasty.

Modern examples


The Kuomintang pursued a sinicization policy, which foreign observers understood as "the time had come to set about the business of making all natives either turn Chinese or get out." 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."

Ma Clique

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


The Hui Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) governed the southern region of East Turkestan (named Xinjiang by the Chinese government) in 1934–1937. The administration that was set up was colonial in nature, importing Han cooks and baths, changing the Uyghur language-only street names and signs to Chinese, as well as switching carpet patterns in state-owned carpet factories from Uyghur to Han. Strict surveillance and mass detentions of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang re-education camps is a part of the ongoing sinicization policy by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since 2015, it has been estimated that over a million Uyghurs have been detained in these camps. The camps were established under General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping's Xi Jinping Core Administration, administration with the main goal of ensuring adherence to national ideology. Critics of China's treatment of Uyghurs have accused the Chinese government of propagating a policy of sinicization in Xinjiang in the 21st century, calling this policy a cultural genocide, or ethnocide, of Uyghurs.


After the Republic of China took control of Taiwan in 1945 and Republic of China retreat to Taiwan, 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 Taiwan under Japanese rule, 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 (such as the wikt:fāngyán, fāngyán of Hakka Chinese, Hakka and Hokkien), and teaching students to revere traditional ethics, develop pan-Chinese nationalism, and view Taiwan from the perspective of China. 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 Ancestral home (Chinese), one's city, country or province than to China as a nation. The process of re-asserting non-Chinese identity, as in the case of ethnic groups in Taiwan, is sometimes known as desinicization. This is an issue in, for example, the Taiwan independence movement and Taiwanization, Taiwan localization movements.


The sinicization of Tibet is the change of Tibetan society to Han Chinese standards by means of state propaganda, police presence, cultural assimilation, religious persecution, immigration, population transfer, land development, land transfer, and political reform.Samdup, Tseten (1993
Chinese population—Threat to Tibetan identity
It has been underway since the Chinese regained control of Tibet in 1951. In present-day Tibet, traditional Tibetan festivals have "been turned into a platform for propaganda and political theater” where "government workers and retirees are barred from engaging in religious activities, and government workers and students in Tibetan schools are forbidden from visiting local monasteries.” According to president of the Central Tibetan Administration, Lobsang Sangay, with the ongoing expulsion of monks and nuns from monasteries and nunneries, and destruction of the Larung Gar monastery, Tibet's largest Buddhist institution, "unfortunately what is happening is that the Chinese government is reviving something akin to cultural revolution in Tibet."


In April 2016, CCP general secretary Xi Jinping declared that in order to “actively guide the adaptation of religions to socialist society, an important task is supporting China’s religions’ persistence in the direction of sinicization.” He later reiterated this plan to the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, 19th Communist Party Congress saying “We will fully implement the Party’s basic policy on religious affairs, insist on the sinicization of Chinese religions, and provide active guidance for religion and socialism to coexist.”


The Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) of Protestantism, Protestant churches in China has described the Boxer Rebellion and the anti-Christian movement of 1922-27 as early efforts to sinicize Christianity. The TSPM and China Christian Council arranged a conference in Shanghai on August 4–6, 2014, commemorating the anniversary of the TSPM. This conference included a seminar on the sinicizaton of Christianity, with Fu Xianwei, chairman of the TSPM, saying “churches in China will continue to explore the sinicization of Christianity [and] ensure Christianity takes root in the soil of Chinese culture, ethnicity, and society... To advance the sinicization of Christianity, churches will need guidance and support from government agencies in charge of religious affairs.” In 2019, TSPM chairman Xu Xiaohong made a pledge to eliminate any Western "imprint" from Chinese faith saying "[We] must recognise that Chinese churches are surnamed ‘China’, not ‘the West’" and "No matter how much effort or time it takes, our resolution in upholding the Sinicisation of Protestantism will never change, and our determination to walk a path that is adapted to a socialist society will never waver."


In December 2016, the Ninth National Congress of the Chinese Catholic Representatives reaffirmed their plan for the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association to uphold the principle of independence and self-governance, along with the promotion of sinicization. In March 2018, Archbishop Paul Gallagher (bishop), Paul Gallagher, Section for Relations with States (Roman Curia), Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See's Secretariat of State (Holy See), Secretariat of State, said that "two expressions or, more precisely, two principles stand out, which should interact with each other, namely “sinicization” and “inculturation.” I am convinced that an important intellectual and pastoral challenge arises in an almost natural way from the bringing together of these two terms, which indicate two real visions of the world." In June 2018, the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association issued a "Five-Year Plan on Carrying Forward the Catholic Church's Adherence to the Direction of Sinicization in Our Country". This document includes provisions forbidding worship outside of designated church structures and government-authorized times, as well as participation of minors under the age of 18 in any religious services. Churches in Hebei province and the Yibin Diocese of Sichuan province began holding training seminars immediately.


In 2015, paramount leader Xi Jinping first raised the issue of "Sinicization of Islam". In 2018, a confidential directive was issued ordering local officials to "prevent Islam from interfering with secular life and the state’s functions". Yang Faming, leader of the Islamic Association of China, said in a 2018 speech that "We must allow traditional Chinese culture to permeate Islam and jointly guard the spiritual homeland of the Chinese people." He encouraged Chinese characteristics to be present in religious ceremony, culture, and architecture. In 2018, over one million Chinese government workers began forcibly living in the homes of Uyghur Muslim families to monitor and assess resistance to assimilation, and to watch for frowned-upon religious or cultural practices. These government workers were trained to call themselves "relatives" and have been described in Chinese state media as being a key part of enhancing "ethnic unity". , it was estimated that Chinese authorities may have detained one and a half million people in secretive re-education camps. The vast majority of those forcibly interned are Muslim Uyghurs but others including Kazakhs in China, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz in China, Kyrgyz and other ethnic Turkic Islam in China, Muslims, Christianity in China, Christians as well as some foreign citizens such as Kazakhstanis, are being held in these secretive internment camps as well. In September 2020, sinicization policies targeted Muslim Utsuls in the Hainan province. Restrictions included limiting the size of mosques, requiring a Communist Party member on mosque management committees, forbidding the use of Arabic words on food stalls (such as "halal"), and forbidding the wearing of hijab.

In popular culture

In some forms of fiction, due to China's communist statehood, Soviet-themed characters are de-Sovietization, Sovietized and switched over to become Chinese to fit modern (post-Cold War) times. The original cut of the 2012 ''Red Dawn (2012 film), Red Dawn'' remake depicted a Chinese invasion before having said information leaked to ''Global Times'', sparking controversy in China and threatening its airing in the country (the invaders were changed to North Koreans). In 2006, Chinese versions of the Marvel Comics' Crimson Dynamo#Ultimate Crimson Dynamo, Crimson Dynamo and Chang Lam, Abomination were created and made members of Masters of Evil, The Liberators in ''The Ultimates 2''.

See also

* Sinocentrism * Desinicization * East Asian cultural sphere * East Asian Buddhism * Sinicization of Tibet * Taiwanization * Conquest dynasty * New Qing History * Arabization * Russification * Westernization * Japanization * Americanization * Korean Wave * Taiwanese Wave


External links

Sinicization vs. Manchuness
(by Xiaowei Zheng). *openlibrary:a/OL77645A/Jean Berlie, ''Sinicization: at the crossing of three China regions, an ethnic minority becoming increasingly more Chinese: the Kam People, officially called Dong People'' (in French)/ ''Sinisation: à la limite de trois provinces de Chine, une minorité de plus en plus chinoise: les locuteurs kam, officiellement appelés Dong'', Jean Berlie, Guy Trédaniel editor, Paris, France, published in 1998.
''Sinicization of the Kam (Dong People), a China minority'' (in French)/ ''Sinisation d'une minorité de Chine, les Kam (Dong)''
Jean Berlie, s.n. editor, published in 1994.
''Islam in China, Hui and Uyghurs: between modernization and sinicization''
the study of the Hui people, Hui and Uyghurs of China, Jean Berlie, Jean A. Berlie, White Lotus Press editor, Bangkok, Thailand, published in 2004. , . {{Cultural assimilation, sp=ize Chinese culture Chinese nationalism Cultural assimilation East Asian culture Japanese language Korean language Politics of the Republic of China Colonialism