Are Ethnic Han Chinese of Mixed Origin?

May 12, 2008 Updated: May 12, 2008

Ethnic Han Chinese is the largest population in the world, accounting for 19 percent. A recent study discovered that there are no pure Han ethnic Chinese and even the concept of ethnic Hans no longer exists according to DNA analysis.

According to Shanghai Evening Post, Xie Xiaodong, assistant professor of the College of Life Science of Lanzhou University, just completed the DNA analysis of minority demographic changes in northwest China.

Xie said, “Ethnic Hans comprise the population living in a specific area and this ethnic does not have a distinctive definition. The name was assigned to differentiate from those in the surrounding area.”

“We generally think that Han people belong to the middle part of China (Zhongyuan).” In Chinese history, Zhongyuan contained what is now Henan Province, south of Sanxi Province, west of Jiangshu Province and Northwest of Anhui Province.

“Yet in the Shang Dynasty (1600 B.C. – 1100 B.C.) and Zhou Dynasties (1122 B.C. – 256 B.C.), Xizhou (West Zhou) had its capital city in Xian (capital city of Sha'anxi Province) and was definitely part of the Han area. In addition, in the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States eras, Qin also originated in Sha'anxi Province, but was instead defined as Rong, a minority.” Xie Xiaodong said.

Another interesting phenomenon is that although Chinese people often regard themselves as the “descendants of Yanhuang,” research indicates that the Huang Emperor originated from the region near Qinyang and Tianshui in Gansu Province, whereas the Yan Emperor originated from Longdong in the Loess Highlands of Sha'anxi province. These areas were not parts of Zhongyuan. (They were called “Beidi” for a long time.).

As history moved on, even the residents, who once were accurately defined as Hans, also migrated. Because of factors, such as compulsory military service, war turmoil and expatriation, Han ethnic people have never stopped migrating toward the south from the Zhongyuan area.

According to the study, “The fact that no pure ethnic Hans live in China has something to do with long-term, large-scale migration. Over a long time, the surrounding minorities, even people from surrounding countries, have been mixing with Han people.”

In addition, it says that “the Kejia people have inherited a very pure culture that used to belong to the Zhongyuan people in ancient history, such as their language and customs which left a strong historical influence. They are the true Zhongyuan people, but they are now existing only as ethnic minority groups.”