East Asian people
East Asian people (East Asians) is a racial classification specifier used for people descended from East Asia, consisting of China, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea. In Singapore, East Asians make up the majority of the population, at almost 80%. The total population of all countries within this region is estimated to be 1.677 billion and 21% of the world's population in 2020.[a] However, large East Asian diasporas, such as the Chinese diaspora, Japanese diaspora, Korean diaspora, Mongol diaspora and the Singaporean diaspora, as well as diasporas of other East Asian ethnic groups, mean that the 1.677 billion does not necessarily represent an accurate figure for the numbers of East Asian people worldwide.
The major ethnic groups[b] that form the core of East Asia are the Han, Korean and Yamato. Genealogical research has indicated extremely similar genetic profiles of a less than 1% total variation in spectrum between these three groups. Other ethnic groups of East Asia include: the Ainu, Bai, Hui, Manchus, Mongols, Ryukyuan, Tibetans, Uyghurs, Yakuts and Zhuang. Almost all Southeast Asian populations, such as the Austronesians (e.g. Javanese), are genetically related to East Asians, adding on to the close cultural and religious similarities.
The major East Asian language families are the Sinitic, Japonic, and Koreanic families. Other language families include the Tibeto-Burman, Ainu languages, Mongolic, Tungusic, Turkic, Miao–Yao, Tai–Kadai, Austronesian and Mon–Khmer.
Throughout the ages, the greatest influence on East Asia historically has been from China, where the span of its cultural influence is generally known as the Sinosphere laid the foundation for East and Southeast Asian civilization. Chinese culture not only served as the foundation for its own society and civilization, but for also that of its East Asian neighbors, Japan and Korea. The knowledge and ingenuity of Chinese civilization and the classics of Chinese literature and culture were seen as the foundations for a civilized life in East Asia. China served as a vehicle through which the adoption of Confucian ethical philosophy, Chinese calendar systems, political and legal systems, architectural style, diet, terminology, institutions, religious beliefs, imperial examinations that emphasized a knowledge of Chinese classics, political philosophy and culture, as well as historically sharing a common writing system reflected in the histories of Japan and Korea. The relationship between China and its cultural influence on East Asia has been compared to the historical influence of Greco-Roman civilization on Europe and the Western World. Major characteristics exported by China towards Japan and Korea include shared Chinese-derived language characteristics, as well as similar social and moral philosophies derived from Confucianist thought.
The script of the Han Chinese characters has long been a unifying feature in East Asia as the vehicle for exporting Chinese culture to its East Asian neighbors. Chinese characters became the unifying language of bureaucratic politics and religious expression in East Asia. The Chinese script was passed on first to Korea and then to Japan, where it forms a major component of the Japanese writing system. In Korea, however, Sejong the Great invented the hangul alphabet, which has since been used as the main orthographic system for the Korean language. In Japan, much of the Japanese language is written in hiragana, katakana in addition to Chinese characters.
Genetic research indicates that populations related to modern East Asians existed as distinct genetic group already during early human times (see Tianyuan man). Significant geneflow from East Asia and eastern Siberia into parts of Europe were carried out through multiple migrations of East-Eurasian hunter gatherers and nomads.
Genealogical research has indicated that "all other Vietnamese groups", apart from the Mang and the Cham people, show "ancestry sharing" with southern Han Chinese, even though on average the Vietnamese people are similar to other Southeast Asians.
A 2020 genetic study about Southeast Asian populations, such as the Javanese, by Liu et al. 2020, found that mostly all Southeast Asians are closely related to East Asians and have mostly "East Asian-related" ancestry. The Andamanese (Onge) were found to consist of two distinct components, one distinct indigenous Oceanic component at 55% and one East Asian-related component at 45% (Fig.8.C), disproving the long held hypothese of complete isolation of the Andamanese peoples.
Alcohol flush reaction
Alcohol flush reaction is the characteristic physiological facial flushing response to drinking alcohol experienced by up to 36% of East Asians as well as some Southeast Asians. Around 80% of East Asians carry an allele of the gene coding for the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase called ADH1B*2, which results in the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme converting alcohol to toxic acetaldehyde more quickly than other gene variants common outside of East Asia. According to the analysis by HapMap project, another allele responsible for the flush reaction, the rs671 (ALDH2*2) of the ALDH2 is rare among Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans, while 30% to 50% of people of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean ancestry have at least one ALDH2*2 allele. The reaction has been associated with lower than average rates of alcoholism, possibly due to its association with adverse effects after drinking alcohol.
- Not all ethnic groups within these countries are part of the East Asian race, i.e. Uyghyrs, Kazakhs, Negritos etc.
- There are no universally accepted and precise definitions of the terms "ethnic group" and "nationality". In the context of East Asian ethnography in particular, the terms ethnic group, people, nationality and ethno-linguistic group, are mostly used interchangeably, although preference may vary in usage with respect to the situation specific to the individual countries of East Asia.
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