Some people in the east asia (such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, etc) are called 中国系 because their ancestors came from China centuries ago. And the native ones are not called 中国系. Is the word 中国系 misused (or even offensive) in this case?

How about Japanese (and Korean)? According to the history I read, Japanese (and Korean) people come from China as well, so can we say 「ほとんどの日本人と韓国人も中国系である。」?

Disclaimer: Without any intent to offend, the point of this question is actually what the word 中国系 means.

  • 例えばここ(シンガポール)は「Ethnic groups 74.1% Chinese 13.4% Malay 9.2% Indian 3.3% others」だけどここ(日本)は「 Ethnic groups 98.5% Japanese 0.5% Korean 0.4% Chinese...」になってるし・・・
    – chocolate
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 6:48
  • 1
    「もっともの」ではなく「ほとんどの」がいいと思います (most って意味で)
    – chocolate
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 7:34
  • @Schokolade: Thank you very much for your useful comment. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 7:37

1 Answer 1


At least to laypeople, the word 中国系 only means someone who are directly related to People's Republic of China in the last few decades. I have never regarded ordinary Malaysians and Singaporeans as 中国系 (edit: this was misleading considering the fact that Singapore is ethnically quite heterogeneous). The same is true for Koreans and Japanese, and calling them 中国系 can be offending. アジア系 vaguely includes Asian people in general.

In pure archaeological/biological contexts, 中国系 might mean something different, but perhaps such a topic does not belong to this site.

EDIT: Let me elaborate... Unsurprisingly, saying 日本人と韓国人は中国系だ basically means "All Japanese and Korean people are 中国系", and that's a bit puzzling sentence. I would assume you are talking about the origin of Japanese people (who actually came from Asian Continent more than 10,000 ago during the ice age) in an archaeological context. But when you refer to this fact, it's better to say 中国が起源だ, 日本人の起源は中国大陸だ or something like that to avoid confusion. I'm not really sure how the word 中国系 is usable by experts in such a context.

10,000 years is very long, and most Japanese people regard themselves simply as "native" 日本人 or 日本民族, not as 中国系. Japan has very often been described as 単一民族国家 which consists of "native" Japanese race (i.e., ignoring Ainu, which are small in number). Therefore, at least in non-archaeological contexts, 日本人は中国系だ sounds puzzling, or it can be even offending (perhaps like saying "Canadians are Americans" out of nowhere). If you say 日本人の〇%は中国系だ or 日本人の一部は中国系だ, that would mean something totally different and reasonable. Such a sentence safely refers to a group of people who have moved from China to Japan relatively recently after the Meiji period and have Japanese nationality.

  • What do you mean by "some"? Yes, some Japanese people are called 中国系日本人, which refers to people who have moved from China relatively recently (say, 30 years ago) and have Japanese nationality.
    – naruto
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 6:34
  • 1
    @SingleFighter In that sense, yes, there are many 中国系日本人 living in Japan (most of them moved to Japan no more than 100 years ago). But saying 日本人は中国系である would mean something totally different. So did you want to say 現在日本国籍を有する人のうち〇%は中国系である, which makes sense to me?
    – naruto
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 6:46
  • @SingleFighter You are wrong in the point that the native Japanese is Ainu who were established around the 12th century through invasion by みしはせ (Okhotsk people, 15% of Ainu) to descendant of Jomon people (85% of Ainu, 40% of Japanese), which caused billiard invasion to the mainland Japan. (To Hokkaido, Japanese were the invader but, to the mainland, it's Hokkaido Jomon (not Ainu per se)). Actually, the logic for 中国系 or whatever is meaningless when you consider entire human race is Ethiopian in that sense.
    – user4092
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 7:53
  • @Single Fighter We don't call the native Japanese Ainu. Ainu is the aborigines live in Hokkaido. We usually call the native Japanese 大和民族. And we don't call the majority people in Japanese 中国系 because It is said that Japanese ancestor came from various places. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 8:03
  • Yes, we use the word when we indicate we are Asian people. 黄色人種 is also used as the meaning. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 8:13

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