I have found myself using the word 非中国人 to express what Chinese people would call 外国人 or 老外.

How do Chinese people feel about this word ?

Just to confirm I am using it with Chinese people.

Here are some examples of 非中国人 in place of 外国人 just to give you a feel for it in use.



你有非中国的朋友吗 ?

  • 1
    Could you put it in a sentence? Or add a context?
    – dan
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 0:53
  • 2
    Those sentences are bit odd but grammatical. The oddity leads to a bit racism or segregation. It seems that you deliberately make it odd to isolate Chinese from non-Chinese. But that's probably just me.
    – dan
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 1:06
  • 1
    "are you Chinese" is English, which sounds a question about English.
    – dan
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 1:31
  • 2
    I feel this term is neutral and has a technical feel to it. Actually I personally quite like this term, but perhaps that's because I'm a nerd. :)
    – Betty
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 10:38
  • 2
    @Kantura Yes I am.
    – Betty
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 9:26

4 Answers 4


In my opinion, 非中国人 sounds more exclusive. stresses 'are not' (they are not Chinese)

外国人 sounds more neutral. 外国 indicates 'where ones came from ( they are from outside of this country)'

  • 我族类(其心也异) is not a friendly phrase

  • 賓 is a welcoming term

To me, 非中国人 (non-Chinese) VS. 外国人 (foreigner) is like 非会员 (non-member) VS. 访客 (visitor/ guest)

老外 is an informal nickname for 外国人. Sounds casual and friendly.

  • +1 for giving the example of 非我族类. I'm a native mainlander, 非中国人 gives me a sense of a nationalist undertone as it emphasises the 'NOT' part. To me, '住在北京的非中国人越来越多' gives a similar vibe to a statement like 'There is an increasing non-local population in the neighbourhood' Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 2:45
  • Quote:- "In my opinion, 非中国人 sounds more exclusive", and also with a subtle undertone of "us and them"? Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 3:50
  • @Wayne Cheah Yes." 中国人, 非中国人" does carry a subtle undertone of "us and them"
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 4:07

As a Chinese, I feel that this person ( who make this term:非中国人) is not Chinese.

外宾: very friendly.

老外: friendly

外国人: (中性词) not good, not bad.

非中国人: No Chinese would say like this.

  • "洋人" is another way to call the foreigners, especially Western people. It's often not friendly, especially in "洋鬼子". It means the person who says it out think that foreigner is aggressor.
    – T-Pioneer
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 10:05
  • the term 洋人 mostly refers to the westerners
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 10:31
  • 1
    the term 洋人 is dead, it's spoken by people 100 years ago.
    – Siwei
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 22:19
  • 2
    it is alive and well on TV. and movies
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 11:01

I've never heard of the term 非中国人 before. It sounds very unnatural.

It is syntactically and semantically correct, though. We just don't say that.


In my opinion, 非中国人 is the same as 外国人.

非 is a very formal word for negative without any motion behinds.

So if you want to rationally argue in some topics, it's safe to use both 非中国人 and 外国人.

On the opposite, 不 is much more oral, it can be very motional.

Like 不是中国人 can means both neutral and negative: "You are not qualified to be a Chinese (shame on you)". This is more complicate and you have to judge with the contents or tone.

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