I'm revising vocabulary for HSK4 and I found many words with similar meanings. A pair I found today was: 国籍 and 民族. What's the difference between them?

3 Answers 3

  • 国籍 = nationality (as based on what nation you are from)
  • 民族 = ethnic group

For the majority of Chinese people their:

  • 国籍 = 中国 (Chinese)
  • 民族 = 汉 (Han)
  • As a matter of interest, how would 华人 be classified? Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 4:54
  • @WayneCheah 族裔?
    – Mou某
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 8:28
  • Thanks. I suppose so. Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 8:52


... establish[es a] person as a subject, a national, of a sovereign state

A "nation":

... is a stable community of humans formed on the basis of a common language, territory, history, ethnicity, or psychological make-up manifested in a common culture

I think this is where the confusion comes in between the two Chinese terms.

  • 民族 is sometimes confusingly translated as "nationality" in the sense of belonging to a nation in that broader sense (though the usual English word for this is actual "ethnicity" or "ethnic group").
  • 国籍 is what's usually referred to as "nationality" in English - being a national of a country or territory. This has legal meaning and would be written on passports and other official documents.


  • 2
    – blackgreen
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 17:06

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