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?

  • 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? Jul 22 '20 at 4:54
  • @WayneCheah 族裔?
    – Mou某
    Jul 22 '20 at 8:28
  • Thanks. I suppose so. Jul 22 '20 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
    Jul 22 '20 at 17:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.