Mainland Chinese
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Mainland Chinese

Mainland Chinese or Mainlanders (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Dàlù rén), are Chinese people who live in the continental ("mainland") region of East Asia. The term "mainland China" is contemporarily used to refer to regions directly administered by the People's Republic of China (including the island of Hainan), as opposed to special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, the island of Taiwan (ruled by the Republic of China) and other ethnic Chinese-majority areas of the Chinese diaspora (e.g. Singapore). The term is also often used by the Hokkien-speaking Taiwanese people to distinguish themselves from residents who were born in mainland China, if not directly calling the Mainlanders and themselves as "Chinese" and "Taiwanese" respectively.

Due to the rapid economic growth of China, Mainland Chinese constitute an increasingly bigger part of global tourism.

Mainlanders in Taiwan

Former ROC President Ma Ying-jeou, as a non-Hoklo, often regarded as a "mainlander" despite being born in British Hong Kong and growing up in Taipei since the age of 2.

The word mainlander can refer to two different groups:

  • Daluren (; dàlùrén; 'continental people') are residents of mainland China, especially citizens of the People's Republic of China (PRC) who live in mainland China.

In the context of demographics of Taiwan, the term mainlander when applied to a Taiwan resident most likely refers to daluren.


The translations of waishengren (Chinese: ; pinyin: wàish?ngrén; Pe?h-?e-j?: g?a-séng-lâng) and benshengren (; b?nsh?ngrén; pún-séng-lâng) into English poses some interesting difficulties. The usual English translation of waishengren is Mainlander, although many waishengren find this translation uncomfortable since it implies that waishengren are residents of mainland China, when they are all residents of Taiwan. Benshengren, which literally translates to "this province's person" and is sometimes translated as "native Taiwanese", refers to the people native to Taiwan before the Republic of China took over rule of Taiwan in 1945 and the mass exodus of pro-KMT Mainlanders following the Chinese Civil War, but this translation could be confused with the indigenous Austronesian people who are often called "original residents" (Chinese: ). Most academic literature uses the terms waishengren and benshengren directly. The terms rarely come up in the English-speaking media.

Many supporters of Taiwan independence object to the term "extra-provincial people", because it implies that Taiwan is a province of China (although the Taiwan Provincial Government officially existed all the way until 2018), and prefer the nickname "new resident" (; Pe?h-?e-j?: sin-ch?-bîn). The latter phrase has not become popular in Taiwan and is extremely unpopular among waishengren themselves.

Chinese Civil War veterans especially are called "old taro" (; l?u-?·-á) in Taiwanese Hokkien, due to the similarity between the map shape of ROC-era mainland China and taro leaves), or waisheng laobing (Chinese: ; lit.: 'external-province veteran' in Mandarin. In government publications and the media, they are also called "honorable citizens" (; róngmín; êng-bîn).

Mainlanders make up about 10% of the population of Taiwan and are heavily concentrated in northern Taiwan especially in the Taipei area. Although no longer dominating the government, waishengren still make up a large fraction of bureaucrats and military officers.


The formal definition of a mainlander is someone living in Taiwan whose "native province" is not Taiwan. Native province does not mean the province in which one is born, but rather the province where one's father's "ancestral home" is. Until 1996, identity cards and passports in Taiwan contained an entry for native province. The removal of native province from identity cards and replacement with place of birth was motivated in large part to reduce the mainlander/local distinction. This is especially true given that virtually all "mainlanders" born after 1949 were born in Taiwan, not in their "native provinces".

Because of the "native province" definition, someone who is born on Taiwan, but whose father's family roots are not in Taiwan, is generally considered a waishengren. By contrast, someone who is not born in Taiwan, but whose native province is Taiwan (most notably Lien Chan) is generally not considered a waishengren. Similarly, a child that is born to a Taiwanese businessman residing in the PRC would generally not be considered a waishengren.

Furthermore, recent immigrants to Taiwan from Mainland China, mostly from marriages and undocumented migrants, are not considered waishengren, but make up a separate social category. Although the numbers of these people are thought of as small and insignificant by most Taiwanese, it has been pointed out that recent immigrants from Mainland China and their children actually make up a larger population in Taiwan than Taiwanese aborigines.

The distinctions get even fuzzier with mixed marriages and the fact that provincial identity sometimes does not correlate in obvious ways to characteristics such as political orientation or ability to speak Taiwanese. For example, although Mainlanders are often stereotyped as supporting Chinese reunification and opposing Taiwan independence, there are numerous examples where this formula does not hold. Similarly, it is common to find younger waishengren who speak fluent Taiwanese and younger benshengren who cannot speak it at all.

The number of the original waishengren generation who migrated to Taiwan 70 years ago has been dwindling as they age and die. Thus, the great majority of today's waishengren are their descendants born in Taiwan, and they do not speak the dialect of their "native province".


Waishengren are descended from the people who followed Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan after the Kuomintang lost the Chinese Civil War in 1949. These people included Kuomintang officials, soldiers, merchants, bankers, executives, scientists and intellectuals. Until the 1970s, these people controlled the political systems of Taiwan; this, along with the looting and corruption that occurred under Chen Yi's military government immediately following the Japanese surrender in 1945, generated resentment among benshengren and was one of the main causes of the Taiwan independence movement.

Starting in the 1970s, Chinese nationalist dominance of the government began to recede. This was due to a lack of a political or social theory that would justify continued Chinese nationalist dominance, meritocratic policies which allowed local Taiwanese to move up in the political establishment, and economic prosperity which allowed for social mobility for those outside of the political establishment.[]

Intermarriage and a new generation raised under the same environment has largely blurred the distinction between waishengren and benshengren.

In the late 1990s, the concept of "the New Taiwanese" became popular both among supporters of Taiwan independence and Chinese reunification in order to advocate a more tolerant proposition that waishengren, who sided with the Allies against the reluctant Japanese colony in Taiwan during World War II, are no less Taiwanese than benshengren. However it quickly became apparent that the notion of New Taiwanese meant different things to supporters of independence and unification. To supporters of independence, the concept of New Taiwanese implied that waishengren should assimilate into a Taiwanese identity which was separate from the Chinese one. By contrast, the supporters of Chinese reunification seemed to believe that all Taiwanese (not just waishengren) should restore a previously marginalized Taiwanese identity without antagonizing a larger pan-Chinese identity.

As of the early 21st century, more and more waishengren see themselves as Taiwanese and as socially distinct from current residents of Mainland China. Unlike those belonging to groups such as the Hakka or Taiwanese aboriginals, waishengren are not encouraged to find their root, and their relationship with anti-China organizations suffers further as a result. Most of them, especially those of the younger generation, make extensive efforts to establish themselves as Taiwanese, sometimes by manifesting good interest in Hoklo Taiwanese culture. At the same time, right-wing discourse alleging that pro-unification waishengren are a fifth column for the PRC agonizes those mainlanders who regard Taiwan as their new homeland.

Now, the term "mainlander" is used to describe a person, Chinese by race, born and raised in mainland China, thereby avoiding confusion with waishengren.


Some notable waishengren past and present include:

Name Information Birthplace Ancestral Province
Chiang Kai-shek former President of the ROC, Generalissimo Zhejiang Zhejiang
Ma Ying-jeou former President of the ROC Hong Kong Hunan
Chiang Ching-kuo former President of the ROC Zhejiang Zhejiang
Hau Pei-tsun politician Jiangsu Jiangsu
Hau Lung-pin politician, previous Mayor of Taipei City, son of Hau Pei-tsun Taiwan Jiangsu
Hu Shih scholar Shanghai Anhui
Li Ao writer Heilongjiang Shandong
Ang Lee film director Taiwan Jiangxi
Terry Guo entrepreneur Taiwan Shanxi
Morris Chang entrepreneur Zhejiang Zhejiang
Teresa Teng singer Taiwan Hebei
Joey Wong actress Taiwan Anhui
Leehom Wang singer, actor United States Zhejiang
Jeremy Lin NBA basketball player United States Zhejiang
Lucy Liu actress United States Beijing
Amber Liu singer United States Guangdong
Mark Tuan singer United States Hunan
Richie Ren singer, actor Taiwan Hubei
Will Pan singer, actor United States Shanghai
Godfrey Gao model and actor Taiwan Shanghai
Eddie Huang Chef, writer, TV host United States Hunan
Andrew Yang US 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate United States Guangdong
Elaine Chao Politician, US Labor Secretary Taiwan Shanghai
Chang Tso-chi Film director Taiwan Guangdong
Ellen Pao Technology executive United States Hebei
Joseph Tsai co-founder of Alibaba Group Taiwan Shanghai
Steve Chen co-founder of YouTube Taiwan Shanghai
Jerry Yang co-founder of Yahoo! Taiwan Shanghai
Kai-Fu Lee founding president of Google China Taiwan Sichuan
Hung Hsiu-chu KMT party leader Taiwan Zhejiang
David Ho medical doctor and HIV/AIDS researcher Taiwan Jiangxi
Samuel Ting Physicist and Nobel Prize Laureate United States Shandong
Liu Chen Physicist Zhejiang Zhejiang
Lin Chuan Current ROC Premier Taiwan Jiangsu
Cheng Nan-jung Pro-Independence activist Taiwan Fujian
H.T. Chen Dancer, choreographer Shanghai Shanghai
Wang Yun-wu Scholar, politician Shanghai Guangdong
David Lee ROC Foreign Minister Taiwan Shandong
Yen Teh-fa Former Chief of Staff of ROC Military Taiwan Jiangsu
Chiu Kuo-cheng Current Chief of Staff of ROC Military Taiwan Jiangsu
Ethan Juan Actor, model Taiwan Zhejiang
Eric Chu KMT politician Taiwan Zhejiang
Chiang Wan-an KMT politician Taiwan Zhejiang
Wang Shin-lung Commander of the ROC Army Taiwan Zhejiang
Huang Shu-kuang Commander of the ROC Army Navy Taiwan Hunan
Lee Hsi-ming ROC Admiral Taiwan Qingdao
Lee Ming-che Arrested Taiwan Independence Dissident Taiwan Anhui

Lien Chan has been sometimes denoted a waishengren, often by his political opponents, although the general perception on Taiwan is that he is not. Although he was born in mainland China and his mother was of mainland ancestry, his father's ancestral home was in Tainan, Taiwan.

Recent mainland immigration to Taiwan

Since the mid-1990s, there has been a small amount of mainland Chinese immigration into Taiwan. These immigrants are predominantly female and are often colloquially known as dàlù mèi (), which means "mainland girls" (literally: mainland sister). These consist of two categories: brides of Taiwanese businessmen who work in mainland China; and women who have married Taiwanese countrymen, mainly through a marriage broker. This population is distinct from Waishengren.

Mainlanders in Hong Kong

Tung Chee Hwa, former Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong and Macau, "mainlander" or "inlander" (Chinese: ; pinyin: Nèidì Rén, jyutping: noi6 dei6 jan4) refers to residents of mainland China, or recent immigrants from mainland China.


Residents of mainland China are usually referred to as (jyutping: daai6 luk6 jan4, literally "continental people"), (jyutping: noi6 dei6 jan4, literally "inland people"). Officials in China, as well as pro-Beijing institutions in Hong Kong, refer to themselves as ? (jyutping: noi6 dei6 tung4 baau1, literally "inland compatriot"). The second term is neutral, and the first term is commonly used by local Hong Kong Chinese[] but also used by government issued statements to refer to people from mainland China.[1]

Mainlanders are sometimes called (jyutping: biu2 suk1, literally "maternal uncle"), (jyutping: biu2 ze2, literally "older female cousin"), and (jyutping: aa3 chaan3), which were coined by various characters in movies and television series. These politically incorrect terms are considered derogatory, and have led to a counter-insult (jyutping: gong2 chaan3) from mainlanders. Recent immigrants are more appropriately called (jyutping: san1 ji4 man4, literally "new immigrants").


At the time when Hong Kong was colonised by Great Britain, the colony first covered only Hong Kong Island, with a population of only around 6,000, most of whom were fishermen. Other than the indigenous population on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories who had lived in the area before the British arrived, most people in Hong Kong either immigrated from somewhere in mainland China, or were descendants of those immigrants.

The largest influx of population from the mainland was during the Taiping Rebellion (late 19th century) and the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949). The British colonial government maintained a touch-base policy until the early 1980s, allowing people from Mainland China to apply to be Hong Kong residents if they manage to arrive in the territory.

Some of these early immigrants, especially those who moved from Shanghai in the 1940s and early 1950s to escape the Communist government, some came to dominate the business world in Hong Kong. In the 1980s and 1990s, Shanghai-born immigrants also occupied some of the prominent roles in the government, including former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and former Chief Secretary Anson Chan.

After decades of wars, internal conflicts and the Cultural Revolution, there was a large gap in the level of development between Hong Kong and the mainland. Many new immigrants arriving in the late 1970s and early 1980s were thought to be less sophisticated, and preserved many habits from the rural way of living. A very popular TVB series in 1979, , "the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", starring Chow Yun Fat as a good-hearted and handsome Hong Kong university graduate, Carol "Dodo" Cheng as a rich and charismatic HK-and-UK-educated university graduate, and Liu Wai Hung () as (jyutping: aa3 chaan3), Chow's long-lost good-hearted but unsophisticated rural-bred mainland brother arriving in Hong Kong as a new immigrant.

Starting from the early 1990s many new immigrants to Hong Kong are the spouses of residents and their children. Many of them are not rich, and some have to rely on money from Comprehensive Social Security Assistance to survive. Although only a few do so, new immigrants of this time were held in a negative view.


Since the Handover in 1997, academic exchanges between Hong Kong and Mainland China have become much more common. In 2004, a policy was passed that allowed mainland high school students to apply to Hong Kong universities. The Chinese government encouraged more Hong Kong students to study in mainland universities by offering scholarships.

Recent development

Since 1 July 1997, the day when Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, the immigration policies have changed. It is stated that "[a] person of Chinese nationality born outside Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] to a parent who, at the time of birth of that person, was a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident, is a permanent resident of the HKSAR and enjoys the right of abode in Hong Kong".

But in 1999, the Supreme Court of the HKSAR made a judgment that as long as the person is born in Hong Kong, they will be regarded as a permanent resident and will get the right of abode, even though their parents are not permanent residents of Hong Kong at the time they are born.[2]

Since then, a lot of Mainlanders have come to live in Hong Kong. Every day there is a quota of 150 immigrants.[2]

  • A daily sub-quota of 60 is given to children of all ages who are eligible for the right of abode in Hong Kong.
  • A sub-quota of 30 is for long-separated spouses.
  • An unspecified sub-quota of 60 is for other OWP applicants allocated to the following persons:
    • separated spouses irrespective of the length of separation;
    • dependent children coming to Hong Kong to join their relatives;
    • persons coming to Hong Kong to take care of their dependent parents;
    • dependent elderly people coming to Hong Kong to join their relatives;
    • those entering Hong Kong for the inheritance of property.

In 2003, the mainland authorities loosened control on mainland residents over visiting Hong Kong and Macau. Before this change, residents from the mainland could only visit Hong Kong and Macau for sightseeing as part of tour groups. The Individual Visit Scheme allows mainland residents of selected cities to visit Hong Kong and Macau for sightseeing on their own. It has boosted tourism in the two special administrative regions.

Quality Migrant Admission Scheme

On 28 June 2006, the HKSAR imposed the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme. It is a scheme which aims at attracting highly skilled or talented persons who are fresh immigrants not having the right to enter and remain in Hong Kong to settle in Hong Kong in order to enhance Hong Kong's economic competitiveness in the global market. Successful applicants are not required to secure an offer of local employment before their entry to Hong Kong for settlement. Many Mainland artists and former national sportsmen/sportswomen have applied for the right of abode via this way, such as Li Yundi and Lang Lang.


The following are some notable people who were born in the mainland and moved to Hong Kong.



  1. ^ "Hong Kong 2006 - Population and Immigration". Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b Tang


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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