With some periods of interruption, China dominated Vietnam for more than 10 centuries between 111 BC and 938 AD. This wikipedia article and its subsidiary links spoke of sinification and shifting of resources from the occupied population to the occupiers. Then, can there be a ethnic / genetic sense to claim that the people who ruled Vietnam between 938 AD to 1407 AD was ``Vietnamese''? That is, did an ethnic Vietnamese identity already exist start the domination in 111BC and did this identity persist in the liberation force against the Chinese in 938 AD and the group of people who ruled Vietnam until 1407 AD?

Clarification: when the "Americans" fought for the American Independence, they were "Americans" by their own declarations but they were mostly ethnic British. Of course, over time, the culture diverged, waves of immigration and interbreeding happened. But my understanding is that at the end of the 18th century, the liberation of the US was done by mostly a group of Brits against another of group of Brits. It was not, for example, mostly a collation of native Americans against the Brits.

So I'm trying to draw a similar distinction here: the people who fought off Chinese rule of Vietnam and went on to rule that latter country for the next few centuries: were they ethnic Chinese for the most part or they were mostly descendants of the original population at the start of the occupation in 111 BC or something in between?

  • 4
    +1 & reopened, thanks for working with us. The preceding conversation has been archived in chat.
    – Semaphore
    Dec 29, 2017 at 19:13
  • @Semaphore - I was looking at this question but cannot find the archived chat. Is it deleted? Was looking for context.
    – J Asia
    Feb 19, 2018 at 13:54
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    Simply put, esp for OP, is this a question on the ethnicity of the Ngô dynasty?
    – J Asia
    Feb 19, 2018 at 13:58

2 Answers 2


Barring positive evidence of large-scale population movement since 983 AD, this ethnographic map of Vietnam in 1970 (from here) would seem to be definitive that the Vietnamese people achieved their own independence. It seems well established that the people of the Red River Delta led the fight for independence - an area today predominantly ethnic Vietnamese.

  • The Southern part of what is now Vietnam was massively colonised by Kinh settlers after the defeat of Champa. This was indeed a "large-scale population movement".
    – fdb
    Jan 1, 2018 at 18:12
  • @fdb: The defeat of the Chinese was led by the inhabitants of the Red River Delta. Jan 1, 2018 at 21:03
  • Are we talking about the same thing?
    – fdb
    Jan 1, 2018 at 22:24

This is a tricky question to answer. According to Keith Weller Taylor's well researched "The Birth of the Vietnam" the Vietnamese as the ethnic group they are now came into being after independence from China. Nevertheless during Chinese rule there was most probably a noticeable distinction between people from China and the local ethnic groups. However according to Taylor there was a marked distinction as well between the heavily sinicized inhabitants of the Red river delta and the people from the mountains to the south in Hà Tĩnh and Nghệ An, who came to dominate the Red river delta militarily after the Chinese left. According to Taylor the Vietnamese as an ethnic group came into being as an admixture between the sinicized inhabitants of the Red river delta and the rustic warriors from the mountains, while the contrast to China furthered a sense of ethnic self awareness.

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