Ethnic minority players in China
(L-R) A Uighur, a Mongolian, a Kyrgyz and a Han Chinese listening to the National Anthem. Very harmonious (hexie).
Over 90% of Chinese nationals are Han. As a result, the two terms ("Han" and "Chinese") are pretty much equivalent. However, from a political-correct standpoint, there are tons of other ethnic groups in China. China officially recognizes 55 others but the details are not important. I think a map explains the major groups further. Of course bear in mind it's not very scientific:
As you can see, most of the Han people are on the Eastern/Southern side of China. And minorities are concentrated in the Southwest, West & Northwest. Also as a rule, the ones in the South and Southwest are genetically linked to Southeast Asians and are shorter; Altaic people who originate somewhat in the West and the North are genetically taller.
The Turkic people (Uighurs, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kyrgyzs): These Muslim people are highly concentrated in Xinjiang Uighur AR (green area in the map). Both genetically and linguistically they are the furthest from Han. What's more they seem to make up a larger percentage of basketball players than their population would suggest. Perhaps the biggest name is the Uighur Adiljan Sulayman, China's top PG in the 1990's and currently the head coach of the Bayi Army team (and one of the first Chinese players I know -- a crafty passer and fancy ball-handler, he was a favorite for commercials in the 90s). Today's Xinjiang club (one of the top teams in CBA) features a couple Uighurs (Mawlan Tursun, Murat Adiljan and Shiralijan Muhtar) and a Kyrgyz (Keranbek Maken). All 4 play significant minutes in Xinjiang's 8-men rotation which also includes a Mongolian and 2 Americans. Bayi also has a Uzbek player named Shokrat Azat. There are a lot more in D2 teams and junior teams. Usually only their "first names" are used because their "last names" are commonly just the "first names" of their fathers.
Already bald Adiljan in 1998 Goodwill Games. He kind of looks European to me.
Tibetans: Red area on the map. No good player I know. There was one in a D2 team that made news for his ethnicity, but not noteworthy from a basketball standpoint.
Mongolians: Purple area on the map is the Inner Mongolian AR, which borders Mongolia. Obviously Mengke Bateer aka Munkhbaatar is the biggest name, but there are also ones like Bayi's Delhii.
Delhii, whose name means "world" in Mongolian, is one of the best young players in China today.
Other so-called minorities that have been more or less assimilated: For historical reasons there are some Mongolians with Chinese names. But all of the Manchus and the Huis (a.k.a. the Muslim Chinese) use Chinese names and speak Chinese. As a matter of fact, I know there are CBA players who are Bai, Xibe etc. but other than trivia, is this information useful? There is nothing to suggest they can speak anything other than Chinese. Muslims would probably be interested to know that long-time NT star Du Feng is Hui though (explaining why he's so skinny in a country where the majority of diet is pork.)
Koreans: See above. Unless you speak Korean and could play in Korea (highly improbable), it's only of passing interest.
Taiwanese aboriginals: Some of the players from Taiwan, for example Lin Chih-Chieh is Amis. Again, it's only trivia-worthy.
BTW, Zhuangs are the biggest minority group in China (still only 1.1%) but they seem to be better at "sports for short people" like gymnastics (e.g. shoe tycoon Li Ning). Not one Zhuang player in CBA right now and I can't seem to find any in history.
Last edited by sinobball; 03-16-2010 at 09:06 AM.
aim low, score high