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Japanese female net users were pleasantly surprised when they stumbled upon some photos of attractive men on an online forum.

While there’s nothing unusual about that statement, seeing as the world is full of handsome dudes (our own RocketNews24 staff lineup included), the reason for the women’s surprise stems from the fact that they were looking at pictures of several hunky Chinese ethnic minority men, some of whom look quite different from the typical mental image of the Han Chinese ethnic group. Join us after the jump for both a mini anthropology lesson and a look at some of the attractive men in question!

The People’s Republic of China officially recognizes 55 ethnic minority groups, which make up 8.49 percent of the country’s total population. Of these, the Zhuang, Manchu, and Hui peoples comprise the largest minority groups. In contrast, the majority Han Chinese ethnic group comprises over 90 percent of the total population. The remaining percentage is accounted for by the presence of “undistinguished” minority groups that are not officially recognized by the government, such as Jewish peoples. Readers should also note that the degree of variation among the ethnic minority groups is not uniform; some of them are ethnically and linguistically quite similar to the Han Chinese, while others differ greatly in all respects.

The website Travel China Guide has compiled a descriptive guide to all 55 ethnic minority groups in China, in case you’re interested in learning more about any particular group.

▼A visual representation of the general area where each of the ethnic minority groups call home

7Nouah’s Ark

As mentioned before, several Japanese forum users were shocked to see actual photos of citizens from the various ethnic minorities. Whether or not they had previously known of the existence of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups is besides the point; just seeing the drastic differences in facial structure and hair/eye color compared to the majority Han Chinese was enough to leave their jaws dropped. In particular, the photo of a young Tatar man, whom you’ll see below with his light complexion and pale eye color, especially caused confusion.

Let’s now take a look at some of the photos, beginning with a young man of Uighur (also spelled Uyghur) ethnic heritage, one of China’s cultural minorities often mentioned in Western media in relation to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region:

▼27-year-old Yumiti (玉米堤), a well-known dancer of Uighur descent


▼His ‘Uighur plate dance’ is bursting with energy!

Moving onwards:




▼Here’s a man belonging to the Hui ethnic group, which is a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority.


▼A man of Tatar descent (a Turkic ethnic group scattered throughout the former Russian Empire)


▼Ethnic Tajik Chinese men


As you have seen, the photos of these Chinese men created a mismatch between the Japanese women’s perceptions of what typical (Han) Chinese men look like and what they were actually seeing. Despite this incongruity, however, it seems like overall attractiveness trumped all:

“Damn, they’re fine!”

“They definitely stand out for their ‘finely chiseled features’.”

“They all look like aristocrats.”

Onii-sama [young man], please give me your number.”

“All the Uighur men look like this. Isn’t it nice to have so many diamonds in the crowd?”

However, there was a serious side to the postings as well. Some comments by the men themselves shed light on what it feels like to be an ethnic minority in China. For instance, one ethnically Tajik Chinese citizen who lives in a majority ethnically Han community commented on how people often tell him while he’s out shopping, “Oh, your Chinese is so good!”, and that no one believes he is actually a Chinese national. This situation perhaps mirrors the experiences of Japanese nationals of mixed decent and fluent Japanese-speaking ex-pats who live in Japan, as is addressed in this video that we previously shared with you.

In the end, it’s always a valuable wake-up call for anyone to be reminded that outer appearances aren’t everything.

Original article by Meg Sawai
Sources/Images: Sina Weibo, Tieba Baidu, RenRenXilu, Xinjiang’s Philosophy and Social Sciences Network (all Chinese)
[ Read in Japanese ]