Ang, J. (2016). Sinicizing the Uyghurs. Peace Review, 28(4), 399-406. Link
Since imperial times, China has been conceptualized as a civilization and not as a political nation-state. Its self-image was built on the cultural distinction between Xia, the higher culture and civilization of the Han people, who led an agriculture-based sedentary lifestyle, as opposed to Yi, meaning barbarians who were mainly nomadic herders. As a cultural notion, non-Han people can become Chinese or Zhongguoren (Chinese people) if they embrace Han civilization—its culture (rituals and institutions) and economic development. Zhongguoren is thus not a racial notion, but a cultural concept, and it is with this conceptualization of the state and its people in mind that Chinese imperialism operates on a principle of assimilation, in which it works to acculturate foreign peoples to become Zhongguoren.
This was… an interesting read… I believe the author was trying not to take sides so there are arguments I agree with and disagree with… so yeah… interesting.