This is a continuation of what I’ve been discussing in my previous post China and Tibet
The popular argument of being Chinese as being a multi ethnic identity that encompasses the 56 ethnic minorities of China is used by largely advocates of a “One China”. I agree with this use of this argument in the modern context where it is no different from the view of being American or Canadian. Therefore in this context the identity is one of a political nature where those who hold Chinese citizenship are therefore “Chinese”.
However the argument being used doesn’t only stop in the modern context, they argue that these various ethnic groups have always, or at least prior to the modern age, always been considered Chinese.
This is something I am not sold on.
Prior to modern times we didn’t have nationalism where people from whatever background are brought together under one national identity through the concept of a shared goal, struggle, or quality.
Therefore, prior to the modern age we don’t really see nationalism since the nationalist ideologies or sentiments are spread through modern inventions like mass media and modern communications. Instead, pre-modern people usually associated themselves under one title, group, or nation by means of a common language, ethnic identity, culture, or religion.
In China’s case the various ethnic groups never commonly shared any of these.
So if this argument of historical Chinese multi ethnic identity is true, then what was it about China that allowed it to be different in this aspect?
What was it that bound all these different ethnic groups together to view themselves as ‘Chinese’ or whatever other name they used to group themselves all together in?
I recognize that there could also be some political motivation behind the arguing of this view of China or being Chinese as encompassing those periphery peoples of China that many people don’t consider as “traditional China”. Then again, the same could be said about the opposite argument.