In Chinese culture, a Hanjian is a highly derogatory and pejorative term for a traitor, especially to the Han Chinese ethnicity. Literally, it means traitor who is a Han or one who betrays Han (people), and traces its roots back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
During the Qing Dynasty
, the Han Chinese
formed the majority of the population but were subdued by the ruling Manchus
. Initially, the Manchu Qing government used the term to brand Han Chinese who were rebellious against Manchu rule. During late Qing, anti-Manchu nationalists appropriated the term and applied it to Hans who collaborated with the Qing government and thus were traitors of the Han people. This label was often used retroactively on historical Han traitors, such as Wu Sangui
, who had assisted the Manchus in conquering China.
The government in Nanjing led by Wang Jingwei during the Second Sino-Japanese war is considered to be Hanjian by most Chinese, as are Taiwanese who fought in the Imperial Japanese Army against China even though they were legally Japanese citizens prior to the end of World War II. The word also made its way into law, with the Republic of China (ROC) having "Regulations Regarding Punishment of Hanjian" (1938) and "Regulations Dealing with Hanjian" (1945). The People's Republic of China (PRC) ratified a "Direction for the Confiscation of Properties of War Criminals, Hanjian, Bureaucratic Capitalists and Anti-revolutionaries".
After the Sook Ching Massacre in World War II, prominent Singaporean Chinese industrialist and philanthropist Tan Kah Kee proposed to the provisional ROC government to treat all Chinese who attempted to negotiate with Japan as Hanjian. His proposal was adopted by the Second Legislative Yuan and was lauded as "the best proposal in the world" by Chinese resistance who fought against Japan.
During the Cold War, the People's Republic of China viewed Chinese citizens who collaborated with a hostile foreign power as a Hanjian.
Historical figures labelled Hanjian
- Qin Hui: Court minister of the Southern Song dynasty who preached appeasement towards aggressions from Jin Dynasty; Prevented the Chinese general and folk hero Yue Fei from fighting the Jin invaders and later betrayed and executed him.
- Wu Sangui: Ming Dynasty general whose duty was guarding the northern border; guided the Manchu armies of Qing Dynasty into China, which ended the Ming Dynasty.
- Wang Kemin: Collaborated with the Japanese during World War II; set up by Japan as the puppet Provisional Government of the Republic of China or North China Autonomous Government; classified and arrested by the Nationalist Government as a national traitor; committed suicide.
- Dewang (Demchugdongrub): Collaborated with the Japanese; set up by the Japanese Army as the head of state of government of Inner Mongolia. Classified by the Nationalist Government as a national traitor. However, it should be noted that since Dewang was not a Han Chinese but a Mongol, labeling him a Hanjian might be quite problematic.
- Wang Jingwei: Advocated peace negotiation during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Set up the Nanjing "Nationalist Government" puppet state with the assistance of Japanese Army.
- Zhou Fohai: Second in charge of the Wang Jingwei government Executive Yuan.
- Chen Gongbo: Head of the Legislative Yuan of the Wang Jingwei government.
- Kawashima Yoshiko: Also known as "the Eastern Jewel", she was born a Manchu princess, given to and brought up by Japanese and executed as a Japanese spy and Chinese traitor by the Kuomintang after the Second Sino-Japanese War. She has been featured in numerous Chinese and Japanese novels, films, TV programs, and video games, with Chinese frequently portraying her as a wanton villainess and seductress and Japanese portraying her as a tragic heroine.
- Koo Hsien-jung: Betrayed the pro-Qing Formosan Republic (Taiwan) and led the Imperial Japanese Army to capture Taipei in 1895. The Koo family raised to prominence and power under the Japanese colonization and continues to be one of the most powerful business and political families in Taiwan, with members living and operating in both Taiwan and Japan.
Because of the dominance of Han culture in China
are virtually equivalent to each other. Therefore, in the modern context of this word, a Hanjian is one who is a traitor to China, whether the political, geographical or cultural concept of it, and is not necessarily limited to Han Chinese.
A Hanjian is more specific than just any traitor in that since a Hanjian would need to collaborate with an external power that is not Han or Chinese to be considered one. Theoretically, in civil wars there would not be any Hanjian, but in reality both sides of the Chinese Civil War accused each other of being Hanjian, to the Americans and the Soviets.
As such, an accusation that someone is a Hanjian is exponentially more venomous than an accusation of being just a traitor.
The term is used against supporters of Taiwan independence
, viewed as being Chinese traitors serving the interests of the United States
; in return, some radical Taiwanese independence supporters used the terms Taijian
(台奸), literally means traitor of Taiwan
, against Chinese reunification
supporters of Taiwanese ancestry. Hanjian is also occasionally used on the Internet
by some fenqings
) and xiaojiangs
) as an accusation against Chinese people such as Jiao Guobiao
(焦国标) who advocate Western-style democracy
The word has been criticized for promoting a unitary
, ethnically homogeneous state, and the use of Han
is seen by some as Han chauvinism
. These groups suggest using Huajian
(traitors of the Chinese race or people) or simply, traitors to the nation