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The PRC officially recognizes 55 ethnic minority groups within China in addition to the Han majority. As of 2010, the combined population of officially-recognized minority groups comprised 8.49% of the population of Mainland China. In addition to these officially-recognized ethnic minority groups, there are Chinese nationals who privately classify themselves as members of unrecognized ethnic groups, such as the very small Chinese Jewish, Tuvan, and Ili Turk communities, as well as the much larger Oirat and Japanese communities.
In Chinese, 'ethnic minority' has translated to shǎoshù mínzú (少數民族), wherein mínzú (民族) means 'nationality' or 'nation' (as in ethnic group)—in line with the Soviet concept of ethnicity—and shǎoshù (少數) means 'minority'. Since the anthropological concept of ethnicity does not precisely match the Chinese or Soviet concepts (which are defined and regulated by the state), some scholars use the neologism zúqún (族群, 'ethnic group') to unambiguously refer to ethnicity. Including shaoshu mínzu, Sun Yat-sen used the term zhōnghuá mínzú (中華民族, 'Chinese nation' or 'Chinese nationality') to reflect his belief that all of China's ethnic groups were parts of a single Chinese nation.
The ethnic minority groups officially recognized by the PRC include those residing within mainland China as well as Taiwanese aborigines. However, the PRC does not accept the term aborigines or its variations, since it might suggest that Han people are not indigenous to Taiwan, or that Taiwan is not a core territory of China. Also, where the Republic of China (ROC) government in Taiwan, as of 2020, officially recognises 16 Taiwanese aboriginal tribes, the PRC classifies them all under a single ethnic group, the Gāoshān (高山, 'high mountain') minority, out of reluctance to recognize ethnic classifications derived from the work of Japanese anthropologists during the Japanese colonial era. (This is despite the fact that not all Taiwanese aborigines have traditional territories in the mountains; for example, the Tao People traditionally inhabit the island of Lanyu.) The regional governments of Hong Kong and Macau do not use this ethnic classification system, so figures by the PRC government exclude these two territories.
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