More Than a Category: Han Supremacism on the Chinese Internet
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 September 2010
Using the October 2008 slapping incident of historian Yan Chongnian 阎崇年 as a case study, this article attempts to contextualize and critically examine the articulation of Han supremacism on the Chinese internet. It demonstrates how an informal group of non-elite, urban youth are mobilizing the ancient Han ethnonym to challenge the Chinese Communist Party's official policy of multiculturalism, while seeking to promote pride and self-identification with the Han race (han minzu 汉民族) to the exclusion of the non-Han minorities. In contrast to most of the Anglophone literature on Chinese nationalism, this article seeks to employ “Han” as a “boundary-spanner,” a category that turns our analysis of Chinese national identity formation on its head, side-stepping the “usual suspects” (intellectuals, dissidents and the state itself) and the prominent role of the “foreign other” in Chinese ethnogenesis, and instead probing the unstable plurality of the self/othering process in modern China and the role of the internet in opening up new spaces for non-mainstream identity articulation.
- The China Quarterly , Volume 203 , September 2010 , pp. 539 - 559
- Copyright © The China Quarterly 2010
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2 Dahan zhi feng, “Wo weishenme zhangguo Yan Chongnian” (“Why I slapped Yan Chongnian”), Hanwang, 21 October 2008, http://www.hanminzu.com/bbs/viewthread.php?tid=234794&extra=page%3D1. According to Hanwang statistics, as of 24 March 2010, this thread had been viewed over 34 million times; see http://www.hanminzu.com/bbs/stats.php?type=threadsrank. Please note that unfettered access to Hanwang and other Hanist websites is highly variable. I note where threads on Hanwang and elsewhere on the Chinese internet are no longer available (or at least, not under the original URL), but still provide the URL where I originally accessed the information.
3 “Tianya zatan: Guonei zhuming Manxuejia Yan Chongnian xiansheng Wuxi qianming shou shu bei xi” (“Rambling talk from the four corners: the surprise attack on famous Manchu scholar Mr Yan Chongnian at a Wuxi book signing”), Tianya, 5 October 2008, at http://cache.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/free/1/1437253.shtml.
4 See the screenshot posted in reply to Dahan zhi feng, “Why I slapped Yan Chongnian.” As of March 2010, the tide had turned slightly against Huang Haiqing, with 43.8% agreeing that Yan Chongnian deserved to be slapped, 48.7% opposing the slapping but agreeing that people should have the right to express their viewpoints and 7.5% supporting Yan Chongnian, from over 2.5 million votes cast in the same poll. See “Wangyou reyi: ‘Yan Chongnian aida’ dongkou buru dongshou?” (“Netizen hot topic: ‘The beating of Yan Chongnian’: is moving one's mouth inferior to moving one's hand?”), Renmin wang, 15 October 2008, at http://opinion.people.com.cn/GB/8174455.html.
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33 Shi Yi and Dong Yiran, “Women weishenma jiaru Hanfu yundong” (“Why we joined the Hanfu movement”), Beijing kejibao, 27 July 2005, as reposted http://www.hanminzu.com/Article/mtbd/200906/713.html.
34 Qinhuang Hanwu, “Women weishenme jiao Hanren?” (“Why are we called Han?”), Hanzu wang, 25 June 2006, at http://www.han5000.com/viewthread.php?tid=384&extra=page%3D1 (no longer available).
35 Hu Xinliang, “Meiyou Hanxin, jiu meiyou huifu” (“There is no Han clothing without a Han heart”), Sanyuefeng, spring 2007, as reposted at http://qkzz.net/Announce/announce.asp?BoardID=16500&ID=529409.
36 Zhang Congxing, “Hanfu chongxian jietou” (“Han clothing reappears on the street corner”), Lianhe zaobao, 29 November 2003, as reposted at http://www.hanminzu.net/Article/mtbd/200901/299.html.
37 On the history of the Hanfu movement and the founding of Hanwang, see Wugen qingjing, “Hanwang biannian jianshi (zhengqiu yijian gao)” (“Concise chronological history of Hanwang [draft seeking others' opinions]”), Jixia luntan, 22 November 2008, at http://www.jixiawh.com/bbs/viewthread.php?tid=12699&page=1#pid141427; Luo Xuehua, “Hanfu zhuantibao” (“Special report on Han clothing”), Zhongguo xinwen zhoubao, 5 September 2005, as reposted at http://firstname.lastname@example.org; Shi Yi and Dong Yiran, “Why we joined the Hanfu movement”; Satsuki Shizuka, “A brief of actual results from Chinese culture renaissance mvt”; Satsuki Shizuka, “Rethinking the Hanfu movement, Oct. '08 (Pt 1: Temporality),” Accounts of the “Lutenist” from Beaver Creek @ U of T, 6 October 2008, at http://torguqin.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/rethinking-the-hanfu-movement-oct-08/; Satsuki Shizuka, “Rethinking the Hanfu Movement, Nov. 08 (Pt. 2 Organization & Politics),” Accounts of the “Lutenist” from Beaver Creek @ U of T, 7 November 2008, at http://torguqin.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/rethinking-the-hanfu-movement-nov-08-pt2-organization-politics/.
38 Wugen qingjing, “Concise chronological history of Hanwang.” For a bibliography of media coverage on the Hanfu movement see Tianchao zhi min, “Sannian lai meiti dui Hanfu yundong xuanchuan de zongjie” (“Summary of three years worth of media converge on the Hanfu movement”), Baidu tieba, 20 February 2007, at http://tieba.baidu.com/f?kz=174688971.
39 Zhao Wengang, “Zhengxie weiyuan tiyi queli Hanfu wei guofu” (“CPPCC member proposes Hanfu as national costume”), Sina, 11 March 2007, at http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2007-03-11/105012486706.shtml.
40 dhws, “Gonggao: Hanwang shi Hanminzu wang” (“Public announcement: Hanwang is the Han race's network”), Hanwang, 8 December 2005, at http://www.hanminzu.com/Article/xhzd/200906/665.html.
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46 See “Luntan tongji – jiben gaikuang” (“Bulletin board statistics – basic situation”), Hanwang, at http://www.hanminzu.com/bbs/stats.php.
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48 Tianyou Huanghan, “Guanxi dao Hanzu qieshen liyi de wenti” (“On a question that directly affects the interests of the Han race”), Hanwang, 24 Nov 2008, at http://www.hanminzu.net/Article/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=21.
49 Lantian, “Yan Chongnian bei da shijian dui Hanfu yundong you he yinxiang? (“What effect will the Yan Chongnian slapping incident have on the Hanfu movement?”), Tianhan, 9 October 2008, at http://www.tianhan.com.cn/bbs/viewthread.php?tid=34693&highlight=%D1%D6%B3%E7%C4%EA.
50 Wuyingdian, “Yan shi zongqinhui jiang Yan Chongnian cong zuji jiapu shang chuming” (“The Yan surname clan association seeks to remove Yan Chongnian from their ancestral genealogy”), Hanwang, 27 November 2005, at http://www.hanminzu.com/bbs/dispbbs.asp?boardid=9&replyid=132198&id=77484&page=1&skin=0&Star=1 (no longer available).
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52 Zhao Fengnian, “Lun manqing canyu shili de qianzai weihai bing buyuayu taidu shili” (“Discussion of how the latent danger of the remaining forces of the Qing is no less serious than the forces of Taiwan independence”), Hanwang, 23 June 2009, at http://www.hanminzu.com/Article/ssyw/200906/703_5.html; kingsreturn, “A difficult choice: the rise of Hanism and what it warns us.”
53 “Yan Chongnian yulu” (“Yan Chongnian quotes”), Tianya, 5 October 2008 at http://cache.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/free/1/1437253.shtml.
54 Li Yang, “Da Yan Chongnian yi zuiba suan qing de” (“It was too light to only slap Yan Chongnian on a single cheek”), 10 October 2008, reposted at http://www.wyzxsx.com/Article/Class22/200810/53652.html.
55 Wumaodang, “Guanyu ‘Dahan zhi feng’ xiji Yan Chongnian” (“Concerning the ‘Great Wind of Han's’ surprise attack on Yan Chongnian”), Tianya, 8 October 2008, at http://cache.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/free/1/1438680.shtml.
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57 Wumaodang, “Concerning the ‘Great Wind of Han's’ surprise attack on Yan Chongnian.”
58 Yidao shandian, “Jingti ‘Mandu’ shili zaidu xingqi gei Zhonghua minzu dailai xin de zainan” (“Guarding against another rise in the forces of ‘Manchu independence’ causing renewed calamity for the Chinese nation”), Hanwang, 12 December 2008, at http://hanminzu.com/Article/jsdt/200812/78.html.
59 Zhao Fengnian, “Discussion of how the latent danger of the remaining forces of the Qing is no less serious than the forces of Taiwan independence.”
60 See for but one example, Zhao Fengnian, “Tantan wo ruhe congcong Zhonghua zhuyizhe biancheng han minzu zhuyizhe” (“Why I changed from a Chinese nationalist to a Han nationalist”), Hanwang, 20 October 2004, at http://www.hanminzu.com/Article/xhzd/200907/730_7.html.
61 kingsreturn, “A difficult choice: the rise of Hanism and what it warns us.”
62 mcbfaa, “Nanyuanbeizhe de minzu zhengce” (“The cross-purposes of the nationalities policies”), Hanwang, 24 November 2008, at http://www.hanminzu.net/Article/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=20.
63 Wumaodang, “Concerning the ‘Great Wind of Han's’ surprise attack on Yan Chongnian.”
64 Han independent blog, “Zhongguo gongmin dengji ruxia” (“The status of Chinese citizens is like this”), 25 November 2008, at http://indyblog-han.blogspot.com/2008/11/national-treatment-in-china-is-below.html (no longer available).
65 Yueqiu, “Zu renkou qian nian yi hui” (“The destruction of our race's population in a single century”), Hanzu wang, 7 October 2007, at http://www.han5000.com/viewthread.php?tid=5173&extra=page%3D1 (no longer available).
66 Anon, “Qiya shaoshu minzu? Zhongguo shifou you gouda Hanzuzhuyi” (“Riding roughshod over the ethnic minorities? Does China possess Han chauvinism?”), Fenghuangwang, 16 September 2008, at http://culture.ifeng.com/guoxue/200809/0916_4087_785721_1.shtml.
67 mcbfaa, “The cross-purposes of the nationalities policies.”
68 Xuanyuan bingrou, “Guanyu ‘minzu youlie’ wenti” (“Concerning the question of ‘superior and inferior races’”), Hanzu wang, 22 March 2008, at http://www.han5000.com/viewthread.php?tid=11466&sid=HLS5Gz (no longer available).
69 Qingping jushi, “Han minzu jiangde jiu shi xuetong chuancheng” (“The Han race that we talk about is the product of blood inheritance”), Hanwang, 18 December 2008, at http://hanminzu.com/Article/jsdt/200812/114.html.
70 Xuanyuan bingrou, “Concerning the question of ‘superior and inferior races’.”
71 HolySinoEm, “Huang Han minzu shi xuetong xiangdui chuzheng de minzu” (“The imperial Han race is a relatively pure race”), Hanzu wang, 11 July 2007, at http://www.han5000.com/viewthread.php?tid=828&extra=page%3D1 (no longer available).
73 Lanshui, “Guanyu minzu youlie de jidian kanfa” (“Several views on the superiority and inferiority of races”), Hanzu wang, 11 December 2008, at http://www.han5000.com/viewthread.php?tid=18057&sid=HLS5Gz (no longer available).
74 Reply by Jiguang yiyue on 8 August 08 to the original posting Qinhuang Hanwu, “Women weishenmo jiao Hanren” (“Why are we called Han people?”), Hanzu wang, 25 June 2006, at http://www.han5000.com/viewthread.php?tid=384&extra=page%3D1 (no longer available).
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76 “Dahan zhi feng zuoke tianya zatan da wangyou wen” (“The Great Wind of Han answers Netizen's questions as a guest on rambling talk from the four corners”), Tianya, 24 October 2008, as reposted at http://www.wyzxsx.com/Article/Class18/200810/55941.html.
77 Pye, Lucian, “How China's nationalism was Shanghaied,” in Unger, Jonathan (ed.), Chinese Nationalism (Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 1996), p. 87Google Scholar. See also Suisheng, Zhao, “A state-led nationalism,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 31, No. 3 (1998), pp. 287–302Google Scholar.
78 The literature here is vast. But for representative examples see Gries, China's New Nationalism; Hughes, Christopher, Chinese Nationalism in the Global Era (London: Routledge, 2006)Google Scholar; Yingjie, Guo, Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary China (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004)Google Scholar; Suisheng, Zhao, A Nation-state by Construction (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004)Google Scholar; Wu, Xu, Chinese Cyber Nationalism (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2007)Google Scholar; Callahan, William, China: The Pessoptimist Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)Google Scholar.
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84 For more on the ethnic tensions within Chinese Olympic discourse and practice see Leibold, James, “The Beijing Olympics and China's conflicted national form,” The China Journal, No. 63 (2010), pp. 1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar.