Why didn't the Chinese Communists try creating separate ethnic groups/"nations" for the speakers of various Chinese-language variants?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,247
SoCal
I sometimes hear Russian nationalists complaining about how the Soviet Communists allegedly divided the "Russian people" by fostering separate Ukrainian, Belorussian (Belarusian), and Russian identities and about how China was smart not to try dividing its Chinese-speaking population into separate nations (for instance, by creating a Fujianese Republic or even an Autonomous Fujianese Region within China for China's Min speakers):



In turn, this does raise an interesting question--why didn't Communist China embrace ethnic nationalism and one might even say ethnic Balkanization to the same extent that the Soviet Union did? In the Soviet Union, obviously things were very centralized on a political level--with it being a totalitarian dictatorship and all that. However, the Soviet Union also took great care to promote various ethnic nationalisms within its territory--for instance, by promoting minority languages, minority cultures, et cetera--even for Soviet ethnic groups, such as Belorussians (Belarusians), who historically didn't have much sense of a national identity. Now, Communist China obviously granted nominal autonomy to groups such as Uyghurs and Tibetans, but it never actually created autonomous regions or autonomous republics in the parts of China where Chinese speak various minority languages--such as the Ping, Yue, Hakka, Min, Xiang, Gan, Hui, and Wu languages. Why exactly was this the case?

Any thoughts on this?
 
Jan 2016
603
United States, MO
This has to do with the conception and expansion of the Han ethnicity. The term Han as an ethnonym saw some use during the Song dynasty, but never really caught on until the late Qing when it was used by the state to describe more typical culturally chinese populations in ethnically diverse regions and served to distinguish these groups from peoples like the Hui. Eventually, this term expanded into more homogenous zones and, with the decline of the Qing, nationalists used the term Han to refer to a group that exhibited more “traditional” chinese traits and specifically excluded the manchus, and groups like hakka rested in some ambiguous middle zone. By the time the PRC came to power, the Han ethnonym had already become a strong unifying sense identity across many different populations. Also, the PRC actively avoids separatism and encourages felling of unity among the citizenry. All nations do this to an extant, but china cracks down on any hint of separatism with extreme prejudice when compared to many other nations.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,247
SoCal
This has to do with the conception and expansion of the Han ethnicity. The term Han as an ethnonym saw some use during the Song dynasty, but never really caught on until the late Qing when it was used by the state to describe more typical culturally chinese populations in ethnically diverse regions and served to distinguish these groups from peoples like the Hui. Eventually, this term expanded into more homogenous zones and, with the decline of the Qing, nationalists used the term Han to refer to a group that exhibited more “traditional” chinese traits and specifically excluded the manchus, and groups like hakka rested in some ambiguous middle zone. By the time the PRC came to power, the Han ethnonym had already become a strong unifying sense identity across many different populations.
Interesting. So, basically, Chinese nationalists sought to adopt a big-tent Han Chinese identity that would include the speakers of all traditionally Chinese languages (Mandarian, Hakka, Min, Wu, Yue, Xiang, et cetera). That makes sense. I guess that Tsarist Russia tried to do something similar by creating a Pan-Russian identity for its (Great) Russians, Ukrainians (aka Little Russians), and Belarusians (Belorussians). Tsarist Russia got overthrown before it could actually finish the job in regards to this, though.

Also, the PRC actively avoids separatism and encourages felling of unity among the citizenry. All nations do this to an extant, but china cracks down on any hint of separatism with extreme prejudice when compared to many other nations.
The USSR was also extremely hostile towards separatism until Gorbachev but it also promoted ethnic minority languages, ethnic minority cultures, et cetera. That's why it was called the Affirmative Action Empire. AFAIK, China doesn't really appear to do that with the southern Chinese languages such as Wu, Hakka, Min, Xiang, and Yue. China does provide nominal autonomy to Tibetans and Uyghurs but not to the linguistically unique regions (as in, non-Mandarin regions) of southern China.
 
Jul 2019
39
hongkong
china tried the answer but it failed.

donot have many Chinese Language. Cantonese, Xiang and Minnan, these are just dialects, the words are the same. The only people with independent writing are Tibetans and Uighurs.

The Han nationality is not a nation in the traditional sense. It is more like a nationality. There are many intermarriage between different races. They are related to each other and the difference is getting smaller and smaller. People agree that they are Han.

Westerners may have difficulty understanding the integration of specific races. It has been in China for 2000 years. This is voluntary. Just as the emperor of the Qing Dynasty was a Manchu, no one could force him to change the nation, but he voluntarily gave up the Manchu language and proposed the concept of the Han. After 200 years, there was no difference between the Manchu and the Han.
 
Nov 2019
20
Solar System
The Tibetans and Uighurs aren't the only ones with independent writings. Manchus and Mongols all had independent writings. In the south, the Dai people have their own writing based on the Indic script. And other Tai-Kadai peoples, such as the Zhuang, created their writing based on Chinese characters. The Shui, another Tai-Kadai people, have a unique logo-graphic script that is very hard to decipher. But a lot of these unique writings have been replaced by the Latin alphabet, since it's much widespread and much easier to understand. The so-called "dialects" are Sinitic languages and do share many common words with Mandarin, however there are quite a few dialect specific words that are not found in Mandarin, and the southerners either created new characters or somehow used existing characters to represent these words.
 
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Jul 2019
39
hongkong
Both Manchu and Mongolian are derived from Chinese. When they ruled China, they gave up their language. Other minorities have many languages, but there are too few people who use them, and they have no influence.

Regrettably, Chinese dialects are disappearing rapidly. Many young people only speak Mandarin.
 
Jul 2019
39
hongkong
False. Manchu and Mongolian scripts are derived from Uyghur writing, which in turn is distant descendant of Phoenician. No relation to Chinese writing at all, except for the borrowing of writing direction.
The Mongolian is a collection of nomadic people. They use ancient Uyghur 、Cyrillic、 Chinese.