Rethinking nationalistic history in China: Towards a multicultural Chinese identity

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In China, the central government enjoys paramount authority in (re)writing national history, and its interpretation is promoted through various channels to shape people's national identity. Over the past two decades, the Chinese government has promoted a nationalistic history to promote a Han-dominant Chinese identity. This nationalistic approach to Chinese history stands in contrast to China's multicultural society and the government's affirmation of multicultural aims as the core values and future goals of the nation. It was expected that the government would rethink and revise nationalistic history to recognize diverse groups and accommodate their needs in the Xi Jinping era. However, this paper shows that the current government continues to emphasize a version of national history that encourages a nationalistic sentiment and discourse. This approach to Chinese history risks strengthening xenophobic sentiments and behaviour in China, and could become coercive for Chinese people who hold different interpretations or expect a more comprehensive interpretation of national history. I argue that a critical multicultural approach can help develop a more inclusive and balanced national history and identity in China. Copyright © 2023 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-194
JournalStudies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
Issue number2
Early online dateAug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


Lin, J. C. (2023). Rethinking nationalistic history in China: Towards a multicultural Chinese identity. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 23(2), 178-194.


  • China
  • Chinese nationalism
  • Critical multiculturalism
  • Curriculum
  • Identity
  • National history


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