Chinese Racial Hierarchy

Racial hierarchy is defined as the ranking of different races or ethnic groups in the society. In this ranking, some racial groups stand higher than the other groups,depending upon the various factors such as physical properties and established legal & political policies, the role that they play in society and the professional responsibilities that they undertake.

The other factors that define the position of a particular race in the hierarchy are the developmental levels, the religion, past history and the value of civilization. In this particular journal, we are going to discuss in details about the Chinese racial hierarchy which had the following major levels:

Chinese Racial Hierarchy

Chinese Racial Hierarchy

  • Mongols
  • Semu
  • Han Chinese
  • Penan

Taking a look back at the history of China, when the various dynasties were prevalent; the ethnic social classes were classified into four major groups. These were Mongols, Semu, Han and the Penan.


After the World War II, the Mongols were separated into Inner Mongolia and Buryat Mongolia. The Inner Mongolia is controlled by China and the Buryat Mongolia is controlled by Russia. In China, the ethnic Mongols are mainly found in the central north region.The Mongol people speak the Mongolic language.

The Mongols appeared during the period, when China was under the control of Tang dynasty. Afterwards, the Mongols emerged as a leading tribe after the fall of the Liao dynasty. They conquered over the major parts of the Northern China.

The original religion of the Mongols was Tengriism. But eventually, they adopted Buddhism as their religion. The Mongols exhibit a variety of physical features. They have fair skin, black hair and brown eyes. The Mongolian spot is the distinguishing feature of this particular ethnic group.  Mongols were among the most dominating races in China.


The Semu group is in the second position in the Chinese racial hierarchy, under the dominant Mongols. This racial group was the part of the Yuan dynasty. There are many ethnic subgroups, which are classified under the group Semu, known as Turpan Uyghurs, Tibetans, Assyrians, Tanguts, Arabs, Alans, Persian and Turkic.

Han Chinese

The Han Chinese group is the largest ethnic group in the world. This particular ethnic group consists of about 92 percent of the Mainland China, about 98 percent of the population of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and about 74 percent of the population of Singapore.

The people of the Han Chinese group speak various forms of the Chinese language, which are derived from original chinese language. The Han Chinese played a major role in the development of various educational streams such as arts, science, philosophy and mathematics throughout the ancient history. their contribution is also siginifacnt in developing the economy of the country.


The Penan communities are the lowest racial class in the Chinese racial hierarchy. Most of the Penans were hunter-gatherers until the World War II. The Penans are divided into two geographical groups namely Eastern Penan and the Western Penan. The language used by the Penans belong to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. The language is somehow related to the Kenyah language.