I think 中国人 only refers to people having Chinese nationality while 华人 can be referred to any Chinese-descent people.

If one person is China-born and has Chinese nationality, should I always use 中国人? Is 华人 less common, or in the worst case, rude?

  • 2
    华人/華人 represent people with Chinese lineage (all over the world, include TW, HK, Macau, Indonesia, Malaysia, US, etc) from anywhere, they may speak Chinese or not. 中国人/中國人 represent mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas from these regions in general, or only people with PRC nationality in narrowest sense.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 3:00
  • @賈可Jacky up-voted.
    – Kevman
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 15:05

4 Answers 4


You're correct - 中国人 is specific for nationality with People's Republic of China.
华人 can refer to anyone from China / Taiwan / Hong Kong / Macau / etc.

In situation where nationality matters, one can use 中国人 for China-born + Chinese nationality.

EDIT: I've a few suggestions on the above line; People from the "华人" group can be refer to as 中国人 too. The line above suggest that, say when you're going through customs (where nationality matters), 中国人 = Chinese nationality. There's no contradiction arise.

华人 is usually used while identifying group of people (mentioned above) when they're in a foreign country. It's not rude at all.

  • Thanks. Isn't 华人 also used to refer to American or Canadian (or other countries) who are Chinese descents? It is strange to use 华人 for China-born people with Chinese nationality?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 17:35
  • 1
    Hi, for American or Canadian (or other countries) who are Chinese descents, the best word is 华裔 Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 18:35
  • 5
    I think many users have spotted the error. However, nobody likes to touch the political issues. Since it has been selected as the correct answer, it is necessary to make it correct. Otherwise, it will mislead the readers. Most people in the R.O.C. cannot deny that they are 華人, because their ancestors did come from the mainland. But, many of them don't think they are 中國人 (Chinese) due to the political situation.
    – young99
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 2:43
  • 华裔/華裔 is also 华人/華人
    – xenophōn
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 7:33
  • @young99 Could you point out the error in the answer? I don't think there's an error.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 14:27
  • 中国人: usally it refers to people who have PRC nationality. In Mainland China, this may also refer to citizens of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
  • 华人: Chinese (race) people with the nationality of another country.
  • 华侨: 中国人 living abroad.
  • 华裔: the decendants of 华人 or 华侨.

中國人refers to the people who live in 大中華地區,which includes Republic of China 中華民國 (Taiwan and China Mainland), Hong Kong, and Macau.

中國人may also refer to the ancestor or the Chinese generation who live oversea.

狹義:中國人=中國大陸人 廣義:黃皮膚,五族人士,即漢、回、滿、藏、蒙


中国人you must call zhongguoren ,this is the right one

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