What Is The Difference Between The Manchu And Han People?

Han People

China has a history of over 5,000 years. This history can be confusing, especially when looking at the many people who make up present-day China.

The Manchu people are the people who lived for centuries in what is known as Manchurian or Northeast China. They were the rulers during the Chinese Qing Dynasty. China categorizes the Manchu as an ethnic minority in China. Over 92% of everyone in China considers themselves Han Chinese. Han Chinese is the majority group in China.

The Manchu People

The Manchu people, also known as Manchurian, lived for many centuries in Manchuria. Manchuria is also called the northeast of China, and it consists of the modern-day provinces of Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jilin, and even some parts of northeastern Inner Mongolia. The Manchurian territory borders Russia and North Korea.

The term Manchu dates from the 16th Century, so it is not a term that was always used in China to describe this group of people. Here are some of the Manchu names used in China’s history.

Period of Time Name Used For Manchu People
Early Chinese Records Donghui or Eastern Barbarians
3rd Century Sushen or Yilou
4th to 7th CenturyWuji or Momo
10th Century Juchen
16th Century Onward Manchu, Manchurian
Names Used to Call Manchu People

The Manchu are a group of people who have been around for a while, but different names are used throughout Chinese history.

The Manchu are most widely known to be the rulers of China under the Qing Dynasty from 1644 to about 1911. They are descendants of the Juchen tribes that ruled China in the Jin Dynasty in the 12th Century.

During the Ming Dynasty, the Manchu paid tribute to the Ming Dynasty. Still, more importantly, they started to get to know any soldiers and military people on the China- Manchurian border areas. Many of these Chinese soldiers mingled with the Manchu military and started to take on Manchu names and their tribal customs.

Other Chinese became bondservants who worked the land to help manage the trade of ginseng roots, precious stones, and furs with China, Manchuria, and Korea. Later many of these same bonded servants became influential leaders under the Manchurian Qing Dynasty.

In China today, there are just over 10 million people who identify themselves as Manchu. Most of them do not speak the Manchu language but speak Mandarin Chinese.

Manchu is considered an ethnic group in China. Most of the Manchu still live in the northeast part of China.

The Han People

The majority of people in China are considered Han Chinese. The Han Chinese make up about 92% of all the Chinese that live in Mainland China or the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

When you think of China or Chinese people, the Han Chinese is what most people think about China or Chinese people. Chinese culture is Han Culture, and Han Culture is Chinese culture. The Han are Chinese are the same.

The Han Chinese are also the world’s largest ethnic group; 18% of all people on the earth are considered Han Chinese.

The name Han comes from the Han Dynasty that ruled China from 292 BC to 220 AD. Though the Han Dynasty did not unite China, it is the one dynasty romanticized through Chinese literature and the arts.

The homeland for the Han people is essentially almost all of China. This is because the Han are the majority group within China. Any Chinese people you meet will more than likely be Han Chinese.

Today Mandarin Chinese is known as Han Zi, which means the language of the Han people.

Han People Vs. Manchu People

Even though the Han and Manchu people both come from China, they are technically not the same people, nor do they have the same history.

China categorizes both of them as Ethnic minorities within China but technically speaking, Han Chinese is not a minority. It is the majority in China. Most Chinese people are Han Chinese.

Manchu or Manchurian is an ethnic minority with just over 10 million people identifying as Manchu or Manchurians. But unlike many other Chinese minorities, most Manchu people have assimilated into the Han culture and do not even speak the Manchu language.

At one time, the differences between the Han and Manchu people were more pronounced. They would have seen themselves as two very distinct groups of people with very different cultures and languages.

But over the years, the line has been blurred, and a lot of this has to do with the language. United Nations Cultural Organization or UNESCO has rated Manchu as one language at imminent threat of complete extinction. Very few Manchu people in China can even speak Manchuarian anymore.

The extinctions of the Manchu language happened very quickly after the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Manchu was once the official language for the Qing dynasty as it was spoken at the Chinese royal court and in the government.

At A Bus On A Dusty Road, we talk about all things to do with travel, life, and ex-pat living. We are all about “Living Life As A Global Citizen.” We explore social, cultural, and economic issues and travel.

We would love to have you be part of our community. Sign up for our newsletter to keep up-to-date by clicking here. If you have any questions, you can contact me, Anita, by clicking here.

Listen to our Podcast called Dusty Roads. You can find it on all major podcast platforms. Try out to listen to one of our podcasts by clicking here.

Subscribe to our A Bus On A Dusty Road YouTube Channel filled with great videos and information by clicking here.

Related Questions

Manchu VS. Ming, Differences Explained

The Manchu is a group of people who are also known as Manchurians. They ruled China from 1644 to 1911 and are considered China’s last dynasty. Ming is not a group of people but is a dynasty of China led by Han Chinese. The Ming Dynasty ruled China from 1368 to 1644.

You can learn more by reading Manchu VS. Ming, Differences Explained by clicking here.

What Happened To The Manchu People In China?

After the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the Manchu people continued to live in China. The Chinese government categorizes the Manchu people as a Chinese ethnic group. It is estimated that just over 10 million Manchu ethnic minorities live mainly in the Northeastern area of China.

To learn more, you can read our blog on What Happened To The Manchu People In China? by clicking here.

Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

Recent Posts

Difference Between The Manchu And Han People