Are caucasians born in China Chinese?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Chew Toy McCoy, Jul 23, 2019.

  1. Chew Toy McCoy macrumors regular

    Chew Toy McCoy

    May 13, 2016
    Honest question. As an American if you are born in America (and I’m not going into the anchor baby debate) you are an American regardless of your ethnic heritage. Actually, let me paint with a broader stroke brush, is anybody born in an Asian country without Asian heritage still considered Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc?

    I’m really not trying to make a bigger point here. I just honestly don’t know the answer.
  2. Chew Toy McCoy thread starter macrumors regular

    Chew Toy McCoy

    May 13, 2016
    Thanks. I have never met or seen anybody of non Asian descent identify as an Asian. And if anybody is wondering, yes, I am talking obvious appearance. I’m not talking Elizebeth Warren Native American territory here.
  3. jkcerda macrumors 6502a


    Jun 10, 2013
    Criminal Mexi Midget
    that makes black people born here Americans.
  4. Peterkro macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2004
    Communard de Londres,Tiocfaidh ár lá
    I would have thought that was very obvious.
  5. chown33 Moderator

    Staff Member

    Aug 9, 2009
    I think the problem is there are two distinct meanings for the word "Chinese". One refers to a person's ethnicity, ancestry, or genealogy. The other refers to a person's nationality (citizen or denizen of ___).

    Obviously, a person can be both ethnically Chinese and a Chinese national. One can also be ethnically Chinese, but not a Chinese national. Conversely, one can be a Chinese national, but not ethnically Chinese.

    When the word "Chinese" appears in a sentence, it may not be clear which of these meanings is intended, or whether both are intended, or some admixture.

    I'm ignoring that "Han Chinese" might be a better term than "ethnically Chinese", because many people are unfamiliar with it.
  6. niji, Jul 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019

    niji Contributor


    Feb 9, 2003

    its a good and honest question.

    its actually complex. i think the previous poster referring to Han Chinese vs. Citizenship is spot on and correct way to answer.

    as you state, in the USA, almost any person born within the USA becomes a US citizen at birth, just as a consequence of being born on USAmerican soil. there are exceptions to this general law, the most notable is children born to recognized/accredited foreign officials.
    this law is enshrined in one of the greatest amendments to the US Constitution. the 14th Amendment.

    but in general, on a global level, the right to have citizenship of a country you are born in, no matter who, or from where your parents (either of them, or, both of them) were from, or have citizenship themselves, is called:
    Jus Soli. (soli in latin means "soil").
    Unrestricted ability to acquire citizenship, acquired only based on being born in that country, is not rare globally, but within SE Asia and S Asia, only Pakistan offers this.
    the USA is, of course, a Jus Soli country.

    (Thailand and Cambodia, have both modified their laws to require at least one parent to be merely a legal resident of that country for the child to receive citizenship of that country. note the difference between the mere need for the parents to be only a legal resident vs citizen of that country. so basically thailand and cambodia have a modified jus soli.)

    in general, the other way that citizenship is acquired, is through becoming a citizen of whatever country your parents (depending on the country, both of them, or, just one of them) are themselves citizens of.
    this general term is called: Jus Sanguines ( (sanguines in latin means "blood").
    in answer to yr basic question about countries within Asia, all countries except thailand and cambodia noted above, are jus sanguines countries, where citizenship is not gained by merely being born within it.
    depending on the country, the rules for how or if parents (might be able to) pass on citizenship to their children are very different by country. but in general, it can be said that Asia is predominantly jus sanguines.

    all of the above is about legal citizenship.

    your question is, however, phrased "can (they be) considered Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese".
    that needs a different type of response.
    my answer to yr question is: in general, no. being called Vietnamese or being called Japanese is not at all about citizenship. its mostly about ethnicity.

    take the immediately relevant case of womans tennis star Naomi Osaka.
    Naomi was born in Japan.
    Japan is a jus sanquines country, so it only transfers japanese citizenship if at least one of the parents holds japanese citizenship.
    but japan also does not allow dual nationality.
    the law in japan about nationality actually states that the child who qualifies (due to at least of the parents having Japanese citizenship) has until the child is fully reached an age of 21 to finally decide.
    in Naomi's case, due to her being a public figure, her case is being followed by a lot of Japanese.
    will she choose to retain japanese citizenship?
    (its unfortunate for naomi: she is a public figure; but millions of similar people in her situation actually have dual citizenship, and simply don't make a declaration at age 21).

    "(is Naomi) considered Japanese ?"
    japanese people themselves are resoundingly saying, "Yes!".
    the japanese people are proud of feeling kinship and identity with naomi.
    naomi's case is special. very special.
    it doesn't hold validity for non-famous people.
    in japan, "citizenship" and "ethnicity" are not identical.

    in the USA, "citizenship" has generally been the most relevant condition first.
    "ethnicity" in the USA has generally come secondarily to importance for how a person and those around him/her view that person.

    in the USA, "I am an American." comes first and foremost.
    'My parents originally come from xxx" comes after that.

    the great question in these times is whether the American concept of "American-ness" is strong enough to continue to create a unified American identity, in spite of non-white non-european migration to the USA.

    so far, in USA history up till the present, non-white non-european migration into the USA has not had a negative impact on American's ability to continue great American's traditions and its ways of pragmatic thinking.
    waves of chinese, japanese, philippino, mexican, and vietnamese immigrants into the USA have been able themselves to acquire the concepts of what it means to be an American. and continue American ways of thinking.

    i have no doubt that newer waves of immigrants from other countries will be able to do the same.
  7. dannyyankou macrumors G3


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
    Apply the same logic here. Are people who are ethnically Chinese born in the United States American? Yes...
  8. LizKat macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    As to the OP's broadened issue: maybe not. One key word would seem to be "considered". The other qualifier might be whether there's no Asian heritage or it's a matter of a mixed-race child, or the child of two different Asian countries having historical enmity.

    And are we just talking about birthright citizenship (jus soli), or about how someone self-identifies or perhaps more importantly is viewed when they're born in a particular country with largely homogenous population and their ethnicity is different?

    If the former, just scroll on past this post... I mean if you're "considered" Chinese if you were born in China, great. That probably works on the birth registry. After that, well... there's what the law says and then there's how life is and sometimes there's some daylight there no matter the country, all around the globe.

    But if we're talking about how someone views himself or is viewed in country of birth when he or she doesn't look like "most" of the rest of the people? Even in China, if you're not Han then you are "the other". Ask a Uighur from Xinjiang province sometime, but the same even goes for ethnic groups much more like the Han than not.

    If you've no Asian heritage but just happen to be born in an Asian country, then in most cases you're never really going to be "Asian" much less accepted as being of Vietnamese or Korean or whatever ethnicity is the majority in that Asian country. It doesn't always mean you're not accepted as a citizen, just not accepted as an Asian, but that in itself might mean limited access to good jobs or housing etc.

    In the USA: there's a fair amount of inter-Asian 'racism' or rather inter-ethnic condescension, much of it derived from old world enmities.

    That stuff is not dissimilar to what I came to understand among friends of different American-Caribbean ancestry during my long residence in the "upper upper" west side of NYC. That has ironically been mostly about perceived superiority of the culture of one or another group of islands variously colonized by French, Spanish, British etc interests... so it came to be about asserted superiority of the colonizers' respective cuisine, language, religion, etc. And yes, the younger generations were starting to think the parents' half-serious half-joking enmity (and the grandparents' entirely serious tribalism) pretty absurd considering the whole lot of the Caribbean islands were historically under the thumb of one or another of the slave owning European entities. "Today it should just be about the food, and of course ours is still better" is what one of my workmates confided one night, regarding Jamaican curried goat. :)
  9. Chew Toy McCoy thread starter macrumors regular

    Chew Toy McCoy

    May 13, 2016
    Thanks for these well thought out explanations. :)
  10. Zenithal, Jul 24, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019

    Zenithal macrumors G3

    Sep 10, 2009
    "American" is a nationality. Not an ethnicity. The closest you could get to an actual American by ethnicity would be an un-touched Native American. Most "Americans" are ethnic blends or to an extent, mutts.

    Outside the confines of America, and to an extent, Canada, I would laugh at the suggestion of say a Togolese Christian being born in Japan as Japanese. Nationality wise, they're considered Japanese on paper, but in reality? No.

    In the same manner, I would never consider a fourth or fifth generation German-Turk to be German outside of nationality and or citizenship. To me, they're still a Turk. Even if they've lost all cultural contact with their motherland five generations ago.

    It isn't racist to assume this. It's reality. There is no American ethnicity known outside Natives. The basic premise of America is that it's a melting pot of cultures. You're simply considered American because it's easier.

    Skip the text below if you don't want to be bored to death.

    Edit: This gets harder when you cross into ethno-religious groups like the Jewish people because they have various eidots. Though with my limited knowledge on genetics, I know that usually a genetic test could explain a person's heritage to some extent. Ashkenazi Jews for example tend to have health markers that are genetic dispositions making them susceptible to certain illnesses. These would show up. Something like Tay Sachs syndrome in the same manner doctors screen people who may have African heritage and wouldn't prescribe them certain hypertension prevention medication. Or Russians are at higher risk of sickle cell than other ethnic groups.

    Because of the Soviet inquisition of the Caucuses and other areas in the 1900s, the risks of disorders and illnesses have been diluted, but today as a result of mixing, there's a risk factor in anyone who's had genetics blended. When you're with child in America, you get tested for a variety of issues. I believe this is done a lot in Eastern Europe now as a result of the past.

    Though if we're being honest, the risks involving of inter-ethnic breeding are less in the west due to the variation of people's ethnic markup versus cultures like Poles or Russians preferring to marry and, to excuse myself for a vulgar word, breed with one another intensifying illness risks.

    Something like FMF affects a whole host of people because of, and I'm stretching here, the Ottoman Empire. Because it's inherited and no one really knows the root of its history, it's generally presumed it started somewhere as a genetic mutation and got passed down to various ethnic cultures through rape and pillaging. To my knowledge, far west European or even central European cultures aren't carriers, except maybe a very small portion of south Italians.

    Gout is another interesting disease. Its prevalence in Whites is low, presuming their background is mostly west European. East Europeans face a higher risk. Blacks have a considerable risk of developing the disease. And this last part is 13 year old info, but I believe at the time then, Arabs had a the highest risk of developing gout.

    Sorry for going off topic.

    Just wanted to say there's a lot of ways to determine someone's true ethnicity.

    Mr. Random Tangents,
  11. Zenithal macrumors G3

    Sep 10, 2009
    Think of it this way. There have been warriors in the past who did a lot of bad things and their genetic markers are present in some populations in the world. And you can get tested for this. But personally, just live your life.

    If you're bored as I am sometimes, go read books on genetics, specifically haplogroups. You'll be a hit at dinner parties, or a victim of a hit job. Haplogroups are very basic in terms of complexity, and they're but a very, very brief path towards learning about genetics. Like I said, if you're bored or hate your brain, read up.
  12. dogslobber macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2014
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    Depends if China has birthright citizenship like USA.
  13. sim667 macrumors 65816

    Dec 7, 2010
    I know that if you're white and born in Hong Kong you get some weird hybrid english chinese classification.

    Generally speaking it depends on the laws of the country. I have a friend born to a portugese father, a belgian mother in the (US) and now lives in the UK. She has a belgian, portugese, US and UK passport. So it depends on whether the country recognises you a citizen by birth, or heritage.
  14. kapolani macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2011
    Where you are born is your nationality.

    Your race is your ethnicity.

    But, if you're born in Hawaii, you're not really Hawaiian.

    My nationality is American, my ethnicity is Hawaiian.

    Some countries nation has the same name as the ethnicity.
  15. sim667 macrumors 65816

    Dec 7, 2010
    You know those people who were born in American, but their great great grandparents came from Scotland or Ireland on a boat..... just to clarify, they're American, they're not Scottish, or Irish.
  16. LizKat macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Everybody in the USA is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, it's some kind of unwritten law, or anyway an excuse to have a few in honor of [pick your myth or] St. Paddy having driven the snakes from Ireland.

    Americans who are of Scots-Irish descent will sometimes self-identify accordingly. It doesn't mean they don't think of themselves as Americans. I mean imo you probably don't want to go there in a discussion with some Scots-Irishman anywhere along the Appalachian chain...

    Anyway a lot of us whose ancestors came over here in the colonial times are by now pretty much mutts by now, e.g. mix of at least English, Scots, Irish and usually a couple other European ethnicities as time has gone on. I know in the wayback my family is of British Isles stock plus Dutch and French. In the later generations we are also of German, Mexican, Italian, Chinese and Malaysian heritage.

    So you know on balance the dude who wouldn't serve my suntanned hungry self a burger in Texas that day in 1960 was wrong about my being Mexican, but right about my being the "mix" he wouldn't serve either until I flashed an inch of pale stomach skin next to my brown arm. Thing is I'm older than the part of my family that brought Mexico on board. So as a "mix" I wouldn't pass muster in Mexico, nor even with the elders of Caribbean-American friends I hung out with back in my NYC residency: their grandmas didn't mind my being dragged home for dinner as a GF (and they even shared a close-to-honest recipe for what was on the table) but they sure God didn't want me marrying one of their precious grandsons on account of all whites were suspect of having ancestors who had one time "owned" my boyfriends' ancestors.

    All that is bottom line for why if someone who lives here just says they're "American" then sure just take their word for it, it probably saves time. :D
  17. Mousse macrumors 68020


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    This mainly applies to white 'Muricans. Blacks say they're black, Asians say they're not Chinese, unless they are Chinese. White say 10% Irish, 25% German, 25% French, 15% English, 20% Italian, 4% Ukranian, 1% Native American.o_O:p:D:D
  18. stylinexpat macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2009
    Very true, same goes for others like Japanese,Koreans,Thai,Saudi’s,Iranians,Germans,French,etc..

    This reminds me of one person in China in a taxi once told me about the people that live in Taiwan and Hong Kong. You can say that you live in Taiwan or Hong Kong but you can not say that you are not “Chinese”. In China even if you were born there they will always call you or refer to you as a foreigner. The same goes for other countries like Taiwan,South Korea,Thailand,etc..
    --- Post Merged, Jul 25, 2019 ---
    So when someone asks you “Where are you from..?” Does ethnicity apply? In Asia when they ask someone where they are from they almost always refer to ethnicity although that does not mean that is always the case though.
  19. Chew Toy McCoy thread starter macrumors regular

    Chew Toy McCoy

    May 13, 2016
    Part of what made me think of this question is the identity politics in the US and wondering if there were any snow white natural redheads out in the world going “Your assumptions are wrong, sir. I’m Chinese!”
  20. stylinexpat, Jul 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019

    stylinexpat macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2009
    A friend of mine is from Hong Kong. Her family immigrated to Canada. She spent some time studying there and got her Canadian Citizenship there. She then married a man from Taiwan and now lives in Asia. When people ask her where she is from she says Canada. Forgot to mention that she died her hair blonde
  21. Zenithal macrumors G3

    Sep 10, 2009
    That last breakdown is mostly if you can relate who's what in your ancestry to an ethnic origin. And it's only viable if you have a strong familial history that's been written down. Genetic test may help. Though I think something like "Half this, quarter that, one-eighth this," makes a lot more sense and easier to visualize. I would actually be interested in what the genetic markup for Blacks are. It would be a bit hard to track down specifically what country their lineage comes from, at least the countries of then.

    As far as Asians go, yeah, they don't like it when you're wrong about their ethnicity. I can usually tell East Asians apart, but I'm SOL when it comes to South or South East Asians. Per history, some Koreans and Chinese are deeply offended if you mistake them as Japanese or vice-versa. And sometimes you meet someone who's half-Japanese and half-Chinese or half-Korean and usually there's an interesting story of familial infighting due to history and how one treated the other.
  22. chown33 Moderator

    Staff Member

    Aug 9, 2009
    I usually just say "100% Troublemaker", in order to make the salient point quickly.
  23. Zenithal macrumors G3

    Sep 10, 2009
    It's funny you bring that up actually. There are Asians and Arabs with red hair. Natural ginger hair. It's a genetic mutation. It requires a specific gene to be in a person's genetic markup. Genetic mutations, and I use that word lightly because people take it the wrong way, happen and show up as a product (child) if genetics by parents link up somehow. There may be a few strains of "dormant" genetics and if a woman partners with a man who has the same, the off spring may look the part.

    In other words, two black haired white parents may produce a child with non black hair if somehow genetics in both their familial history have the correct lego-like structure and fail. In other words, it requires having the same specific gen, but it also requires that gene to "fail" and mutate during child development. That's the gist of it. I don't know how well traveled you are, but there are pockets of the world where the people look nothing close to the people around them. Sometimes they stick together by choice. Good examples of this are Yezidis or even the blond haired blue eyed people of Mexico, who are descendants from invaders from Europe. Having spoken to a few in Mexico and stateside, they have an intense dislike for your typical Mexican or even most Hispanics. Viewing them as "trash" for mixing with Natives.
  24. stylinexpat macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2009
    So true..
    If you walk into a Japanese restaurant and and as the chef where he is from the look on his face could go two ways.. If he is Japanese he will smile and tell you what part of Japan he is from in a proud way but if he is Korean there is very high chance he is not going to be a happy camper.

    In China and India just to name a couple food various hugely depending on where the chef and owner are from as methods of cooking are different and taste various a lot. For Chinese some food will be more oily,some less oily,some more salty,some less salty,some more spicy and some less spicy,etc..

    Taiwan for example is quite famous for their mangoes but not all mangoes out of all regions are as good as others so I used to always ask. After a while you can tell on some where they are from. The ones from Tainan and Pingtung are amongst the best mangoes one could have.

    In Asia some can tell how friendly some are depending on where they are from although this is not always the case.

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32 July 23, 2019