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Greater China

Greater China
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 大中華地區
Simplified Chinese 大中华地区
Chinese-speaking World/Sinophone World
Traditional Chinese 中文世界
Simplified Chinese 中文世界
Japanese name
Kanji 中華圏
Countries considered part of the Sinosphere are shown in yellow     

Greater China, or Greater China Region, is a term used to refer to Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.[1] As a "phrase of the moment", the precise meaning is not entirely clear, and people may use it for only the commercial ties, only the cultural actions, or even as a euphemism for the Two Chinas, while others may use it for some combination of the three. The term is not specifically political in usage; ties common between the geographical regions, for instance Chinese-language television, film and music entertainment is commonly attributed to be a cultural aspect of "Greater China".[2][3] The term is also used with reference to business/economic development, such as Focus Taiwan reporting on "economic integration in the Greater China region".[4] Usage of the term may also vary as to the geographic regions it is meant to imply.

The term Greater China is generally used for referring to the cultural and economic ties between the relevant territories, and is not intended to imply sovereignty. But to avoid any political connotation, the term Chinese-speaking world or Sinophone world is often used instead of Greater China.


  • History 1
  • Usage in finance 2
  • Political usage 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


The term was used at least as far back as the 1930s by Chinese Empire, as opposed to China proper.[5] Usage by the United States on government maps in the 1940s as a political term included territories claimed by the Republic of China that were part of the previous empire, or geographically to refer to topographical features associated with China that may or may not have lain entirely within Chinese political borders.[5] The concept began to appear again in Chinese-language sources in the late 1970s, referring the growing commercial ties between the mainland and Hong Kong, with the possibility of extending these to Taiwan, with perhaps the first such reference being in a Taiwanese journal Changqiao in 1979.[5] The English term subsequently re-emerged in the 1980s to refer to the growing economic ties between the regions as well as the possibility of political unification.[5] The term was also "coined by Japanese economists to describe the increasing economic integration between China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan produced by globalization." [6] It is not an institutionalized entity such as the EU or ASEAN. The concept is a generalization to group several markets seen to been closely linked economically and does not imply sovereignty.[7]

Usage in finance

In the financial context, a number of Greater China JF Greater China Fund,[10] and the HSBC Greater China Fund prior to February 2009 (after which it dropped Taiwanese assets from its portfolio and was renamed to the HSBC China Region Fund).[11][12] Numerous other examples exist.

Political usage

The term is often used to refer in an attempt to avoid invoking sensitivities over the political status of Taiwan.[7] Some supporters of Chinese reunification object to the term as it implies that "Greater China" is different from China. For many Asians, the term is a reminder of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere", a euphemism for the region controlled by the Japanese Empire during the Second World War.[13]

At the time the term started gaining currency in the 1980s, it began to meet with objections from those representing mainland Chinese interests. They expressed concern at the possibility of opportunistic non-citizens, motivated more by profit than loyalty or patriotism, seeking to take advantage of Chinese economic growth, and at the erosion of the Chinese nation-state. One such scholar described typical objections:[6]

From the national perspective, we reject the concept of a Greater China. From the legal perspective, we cannot mix up different nationals [simply] because they have the same language and culture as we do . . . [Similarly], most Southeast Asian Chinese reject this concept. [But] Taiwan likes this view of Greater China. It is a business concept to capitalize on China's development. Western scholars see a stronger China and project their own model by exaggerating data on overseas-Chinese development. This problem must be seen on the level of government-to-government relations. We see things as a business matter. Overseas Chinese come not because they are patriotic but because of investment benefits. We need to clearly differentiate between those who are nationals, and those who are from overseas.
—Huang Kunzhang, professor at Shantou University

See also


  1. ^ "Apple overtakes Lenovo in China sales". Financial Times. 18 August 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  2. ^ MTV Channels In Southeast Asia and Greater China To Exclusively Air The Youth Inaugural Ball - MTV Asia
  3. ^ June 1, 2008, Universal Music Group realigns presence in Greater China, Television Asia (Article archive at Newser)
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d Harding, Harry (Dec 1993). "The Concept of 'Greater China': Themes, Variations and Reservations". The China Quarterly (136, Special Issue: Greater China): 660. 
  6. ^ a b Aihwa Ong (1999). Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality. Duke University Press. p. 60.  
  7. ^ a b Aretz, Tilman (2007). The greater China factbook. Taipei: Taiwan Elite Press.  
  8. ^ "Prospectus - ING Global and International Equity and Fixed-Income Funds - Class A, B,".  
  9. ^ "Dreyfus Greater China Fund (prospectus)".  
  10. ^ "J.P. Morgan Country/Region Funds: Class A, Class B & Class C Shares".  
  11. ^ "HSBC Chinese Equity Fund (Factsheet)".  
  12. ^ Langston, Rob (2009-02-23). "HSBC announces changes to Greater China fund".  
  13. ^ Shambaugh, David (Dec 1993). "Introduction: The Emergence of 'Greater China'". The China Quarterly (136, Special Issue: Greater China): 654. 
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