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Short Asian myth.


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#46 Guest_Conan the destroyer_*

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 11:02 AM

What you are saying still doesn't contradict with whats in the sources from the wikipedia article. You quoted that Chinese were not very different in average height from conscripts in 19th century European armies, but you have to remember that during this time Europeans were much shorter than they were in the middle ages because of the bad living conditions the industrial revolution brought to Europeans.


Actually, the Chinese of this period also had a lower average stature than in previous times. The same article describes how males of the late 19th century were shorter than those before and after. Plus, The first quote (the height of northern Chinese as compared to the French) is actually from 1929.

In any case, dairy food is not completely necessary for attaining high stature. The meat eating, milk-drinking Mongols averaged at 7cm shorter than the northern Chinese during the early 20th century. My brothers and sisters have been raised on a vegetarian diet, we are not short.

Edited by Conan the destroyer, 23 February 2007 - 11:04 AM.


#47 Guest_Conan the destroyer_*

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 11:30 AM

WW2 pictures of individuals such as Israel Epstein, Norman Bethune and Edgar snow standing with regular Chinese does not illustrate any alleged height difference.


To illustrate the point...

Norman Bethune.
Posted Image
Edgar Snow
Posted Image
Jacob Rosenfeld
Posted Image

Anyway, sometime in the next two years I'll visit Beijing and report back about the average height of modern Chinese as compared to Europeans.

Edited by Conan the destroyer, 23 February 2007 - 11:54 AM.


#48 JiG

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 04:49 PM

To illustrate the point...

Norman Bethune.
Posted Image
Edgar Snow
Posted Image
Jacob Rosenfeld
Posted Image

Anyway, sometime in the next two years I'll visit Beijing and report back about the average height of modern Chinese as compared to Europeans.

Yea, you can look at stats and articles all you want but I always thought the best way is to find from your own experience.

#49 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 12:09 AM

Sorry to bring this thread up, since I just had a debate elsewhere on this topic, I might as well respond here.

According to the NHS british survey quoted in wiki (http://www.ic.nhs.uk...ndTabs.xls/file), the equivalent value for boys aged 16-24 in the UK, is 177. So you could say that on this class of age (cohort in demographic parlance), Chinese boys are about 5-7 cm shorter than UK boys.


This comparison overlooks an important factor, and I would say that much of this whole thread overlooks this factor.
That Han Chinese is not a race, but an ethnicity. What we term as "Chinese" is a political or ethnic category, not a racial one. China is a huge country and the population is just as diverse as that of Europe. I find just as much racial distinction between a person from Shang Hai and a person from Canton as a person from ShangHai compared to one from Japan.
Comparing Britain, one of the colder places in Europe,(and in fact the second tallest nation in Europe, ranking after the dutch) with the average in all of China just isn't a valid comparison.
If we compare Britain to just people from HeBei, a province that has about 68 million people(compared to about 60 million in Britain) we see that the height is actually quite comparible, both have males around 175.5 cm and females around 1.62 cm.
Even the tallest Europeans, the Dutch male, are around 179.5cm with the female around 1.65. Which is only around 2 cm taller than the people of Harbin. And this is still not taking into account that diets in China, even the urban area(which includes the suburbs), are not as nutritional.
Muscular built is totally out of the comparison, since that has more to do with exercise facilities, which China still lagged behind. The American born Chinese are stockier, but they are generally of southern descent. http://www.guardian....,781616,00.html

No where in history do you find Chinese texts portray caucasians as taller or stockier, on the contrast, we have many passages which stereotype the people of the western region as shorter than the "upright man" of the central plain.

Yea, you can look at stats and articles all you want but I always thought the best way is to find from your own experience.


I beg to differ. Statistics are an objective and scientific analysis of actual facts, they are much more reliable than the subjective, often limited and distorted views of personal observation.

Edited by warhead, 27 April 2007 - 12:20 AM.


#50 fcharton

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 06:58 AM

Comparing Britain, one of the colder places in Europe,(and in fact the second tallest nation in Europe, ranking after the dutch) with the average in all of China just isn't a valid comparison.
If we compare Britain to just people from HeBei, a province that has about 68 million people(compared to about 60 million in Britain) we see that the height is actually quite comparible, both have males around 175.5 cm and females around 1.62 cm.


No, look at the link Conan gave, the reference for Hebei are for the 22 years old urban cohort, ie young people from cities, who tend to be taller than average. So, you're basically comparing an "all age" average for britain, with a 22yo urban average for Hebei... If you look at the 16-24 yo class for britain, you get and average around 177-178, and you must probably lower the Hebei figure a bit to account for non urban youngsters...

I must say I don't understand your point on Han ethnicity. The Han represent a huge majority in China, so it is quite likely that Han chinese average height, is certainly very close to "average chinese" height.

Finally, I'd like to mention that even though there seem to be (judging from conan's figure) a difference between north and south, it is not a simple and basic correlation. You chose Hebei at 175.5 (for guys), but had you chosen Shanxi or Shaanxi (both northern provinces too), you'd get 170...

Practically, I do maintain that there is, at present, a slight height difference between chinese and europeans, on average, that this difference will probably become smaller as china develops (because it is more due to developement level, then to some "racial" feature), and that, in any case, it doesn't matter much...

Francois, short and white...

#51 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 11:12 AM

No, look at the link Conan gave, the reference for Hebei are for the 22 years old urban cohort, ie young people from cities, who tend to be taller than average. So, you're basically comparing an "all age" average for britain, with a 22yo urban average for Hebei... If you look at the 16-24 yo class for britain, you get and average around 177-178, and you must probably lower the Hebei figure a bit to account for non urban youngsters...



In case you haven't notice, the argument here is that Mongoloid aren't genetically shorter than Caucasians, thats why I am only comparing urban areas, where there isn't as large of a gap between nutritional diet.(which is still not completely true) I am not saying that the average height in all of China today is the same as that of Europe.

I must say I don't understand your point on Han ethnicity. The Han represent a huge majority in China, so it is quite likely that Han chinese average height, is certainly very close to "average chinese" height.

Finally, I'd like to mention that even though there seem to be (judging from conan's figure) a difference between north and south, it is not a simple and basic correlation. You chose Hebei at 175.5 (for guys), but had you chosen Shanxi or Shaanxi (both northern provinces too), you'd get 170...


My point is that the Han ethnicity is an ethnicity, not a race. There are as much racial variation among the Han as there are among all of Europe. But people usually can't distinguish that and label all Han Chinese as if its a single race.
There is no need for me to choose Shanxi or Shaanxi, since Britain is the second highest people in Europe, so if I choose ShanXi then I should compare them to people like the Spanish. In fact, even choosing Hebei is not quite reflective of the point, since HeBei isn't even the second tallest province in China and its latitude is still lower than that of Britain.

Edited by warhead, 27 April 2007 - 11:19 AM.


#52 Western man

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 07:09 PM

So, are any Asian nationalities short? South-east Asians obviously are, and most Japanese I see aren't exactly tall. Also, I've heard from some Chinese that Tibetans are very small. But generally speaking, Asians aren't short...


With an average height of 170cm for young men Japanese are short. In SE Asia there are also many short peoples (but I don't know any national statistics from there.)

I don't get this. People -- even Asians themselves -- seem to believe that Asians are shorter than other ethnicities. But that's not what I'm seeing. In fact, I've observed the opposite to be true.

I live near two southern Chinese families. They are by all accounts typical Chinese, with dark skin/hair/eyes and high cheekbones. Most noticeably, almost all the men are thin and over 177cm (5'10) tall, with the tallest being about 193cm (6'4).


In my experience the crux is that those stereotypical "East Asian" facial features usually correlate with a larger body seize. East Asians with deeper-set eyes and bigger noses (such as Japanese and Austronesians) are often smaller (i.e. of low or intermediate body height in terms of East Asian standards).

So, the question is, why are Asians themselves convinced they are "smaller" than other races, when it clearly isn't true?


There is no "Asian race". There are e.g. Pakistanis, Arabs, northern Han, central Han, southern Han, tribes everywhere, which are all usually composed of several different racial elements and thus not necessarily comparable to each other.

Another example. I've met with some students from Beijing (plenty of Asian students/tourists can be seen in this part of the UK) and they were definitely about the same height as the average Brits. Just yesterday I passed a mandarin speaking couple, I'd guess from Beijing, who absolutely towered over most Europeans. Mongolians also seem very tall (and stocky) from the pictures I've seen, but I can't speak from personal experience.


Body height in East Asians depends on both genetics and nutrition, too. Many people of southern China are probably derived from the Yellow River region. This means that they also have the genes of the people from the latter. Also, there is an increasing number of East Asians belonging to higher social classes in Europe. They are obviously taller than those people who came here as blue-collar workers.

I myself am from lower social class and primarily know people of Hokkienese, Cantonese and Hakkanese origins. They are mostly either of intermediate height or small. The few exceptions also carry the facial features of people from the Yellow River region: i.e. their men have a flattened eye region, big and elongated heads, a small nose and often yellowish skin.

The first time I saw people from North China on television I thought that would have been a documentary film about sort of sedentary Mongols. (That was almost 20 years ago.) Especially the northern Chinese men tend to phenotypically strongly deviate from those of rural parts of southern China.

#53 Guest_Conan the destroyer_*

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 02:41 PM

Tibetans don't look that tall. I haven't actually met any personally but from the pics they do look shorter/smaller than north Chinese/Mongolians/Koreans.

Whatever the case. I imagine all north Asian groups have similar height potential. Most of the young Chinese and south Korean guys I meet are in the 175-185cm range. Which is pretty much the same as N.Europeans.

#54 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 03:48 PM

one thing i have observed is that chinese specially in southern parts like chengdu are generally short while the northeners are sometimes very tall.i wonder why?are there any genetic differences or is it the result of frequent mongol invasions.


Like I said, Han isn't a race, its an ethnic group, the racial diversity in China is great. We are labeling them through political and ethnic terms. China shouldn't be labeled on the same term as Korea or Japan. It is much larger and more diverse. The Han ethnic group is more similar to the "white" ethnic group in America, whereas all speak English and share the same, culture, look similar, but in reality contain different racial backgrounds from all over Europe.




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