Sinification is the process of changing a civilization into a Chinese style. It was very prevalent in Korean civilization, a bit less in Japan, and very little in Vietnam.

Are there still any examples of sinification in modern times?

  • 3
    I experience it everyday in my own home. I have been married to an Overseas Chinese wife for 45 years. – WS2 Nov 22 '16 at 14:54
  • As the above comment highlights, you may need to clarify the scale you're asking about. – KillingTime Nov 22 '16 at 15:13
  • haha, I just mean like on societies today, or in countries. the answer below is one example of something i was looking for. – Registered User Nov 23 '16 at 3:15
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    "very little in Vietnam"? I don't think so, specially when you don't specify in what scale. – Firebug Nov 23 '16 at 10:29
  • Vietnam had eight-legged civil service exams patterned on the neo-confucious Ming methods until the french ended the system in the 1800's. North Vietnam was part of the Qin dynasty in 220 BC. They have been very influence by China. The rise of Vietnamese nationalism, and anti-Chinese thoughts, can be viewed as a European import given to them by the French. Of course, Chinese nationalism can be viewed as a European import as well. – axsvl77 Nov 23 '16 at 22:35

The place that springs to mind is Singapore. While physically being an island on the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, all but about a quarter of the population is ethnically Chinese.

This majority wasn't achieved until the mid 1800's, likely owing to the same factors that caused an influx of Chinese into the USA at around the same time.

  • But is Singapore the subject of "sinification"? The majority population are descended from Han Chinese, and dialects of Chinese and Chinese food and culture are everywhere. But is Singapore the subject of influence from the People's Republic of China, more than anywhere else in the region? I am not clear what the OP is looking for. In the late 50s/early 60's the dominant political movement on the island was towards Western alignment, notwithstanding a large influx of refugees from the Cultural Revolution. – WS2 Nov 23 '16 at 9:24
  • @WS2 - You can search for "Singapore sinification" and find hits. I even found one article (blocked here, so click at your own risk) talking about how it would "most likely" join the PRC. – T.E.D. Nov 23 '16 at 11:59
  • @T.E.D. Sounds a bit ridiculous to me. Singapore has a per-capita GDP roughly equal to the USA. Lee Kuan Yew would be turning in his grave. He fought a monumental campaign in the late 50s to prevent the country going the way of Cuba. But in those days there were large numbers of recent migrants from the PRC. Not sure what the global defence implications would be. Britain had a huge military base there (abt 50,000, two aircraft carriers, nuclear capability etc until the early 70s). It used to be considered essential to the defence of Australia/New Zealand. Massive natural harbour at Woodlands. – WS2 Nov 24 '16 at 20:11

There are several examples I can think of, but I admit they are all of a very mild sinification.

  1. 19th Century California - There was a large influx of Chinese immigrants, whose culture has permeated into the American. The several large China-town districts in San Francisco and other towns (even New York) are a good indicator, as well as the prevalence and popularity of Chinese food in mainstream American culture.
  2. 21st Century eastern Africa - There are several nations in eastern Africa currently involved in serious trade with China, mostly around raw materials supply, such as mining. This is being done mostly by Chinese companies, bringing their own personnel. Naturally, the culture is slowly being influenced by all the people visiting, though of course it's too soon to tell how deep the sinification will be.
  3. Malaysia - There has been a huge Chinese influence in Malaysia over the last century or so. So much so, that it has (among other things) lead to the creation of Singapore, as the Malaysian federation tried to evade that influence.

That's all I can come up with in the time available, I'll edit the answer if anything more comes to mind.


A couple of data points:

Firstly, The Song Dynasty (960-1279) pioneered many methods of modern finance, trade, and economics. Subsequent to the Song, the Mongols ruled China and much of Eurasia. In administering their civilized territories, the Mongols used administration and economic management techniques that they learned from the Song. Indeed, they employed Chinese engineers and bureaucrats throughout their empire. The merchant classes from South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe grew greatly as a result of this style of management, and commercial activities (banking, corporate arrangements, trade management) grew as a result.

Likewise, Chinese manufactures like Tea, pottery, silk, etc, along with spices, spread to the Middle East and Europe. The royalty and the wealthy in these areas developed a taste for these goods, and empowered merchants to increase trade. (this led directly to colonialism)

Secondly, Matteo Ricci spent about 3 decades (1582-1610) as an advisor to the Ming emperors. There is much emphasis in history about his influence in the Ming courts concerning his introduction of European culture there, and his conversion of many Chinese to Christianity. Much less spoken about are the result of his reporting, and the reporting of others who followed his footsteps, about the structure of the Chinese state, especially how it was centralized, and its meritocratic bureaucracy & civil service exams, and its "strict" legalism.

Modern European states in the late 1700s and 1800s structured their post-feudal, centralizing states in a manner patterned after Chinese methods.

What does this mean?

Much of modern society, with centralized secular governments ruling with somewhat meritocratic methods, with high priorities on trade and living standard, are the result of worldwide Chinese influence over the last 1,000 years.

In summary, the whole world is currently undergoing "sinification" at this very moment, and you didn't even notice!

A side note: I've had difficulty building a non-racist definition of "sinification" as China is a really diverse place. People of the Han ethnicity in South China and North China are as different as Scandinavia and Egypt; does this mean China hasn't been sinified yet? Or does it mean the only commonality is a secular centralized state with managed economic organization ? It might be easier to discard the concept of sinification all together, and view the world as a place where ideas flow in every direction at once.

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