The Manchu people are one of the 56 officially recognized ethnic minority groups in China. They count around 10 million people and thus make up the 4th biggest ethnic group – the Han being the biggest, followed by the Zhung and the Hui.
Qiren.cn is a Chinese language website made and used by Manchus. In a lot of the ongoing threads within the “message center”, ethnicity and identity are discussed, and expressions like “Manchu nationality”, “ancestral home”, and “blood relationship” are commonly used. Manchu language is also a widely discussed topic, and an electronic dictionary is provided, even though it is apparently only a few people over 70 years who know the original Manchu language. Most Manchus speak Chinese.
Does this indicate that ethnic consciousness increases with the internet? Manchu expert Weidong Zhang, University of Iowa, arguments so with his dissertation on online Manchu communities. Ethnic consciousness is certainly one important outcome of the use of the internet, and on the other hand we also know that Manchus, Tibetans and other ethnic minorities use tools like QQ.com where people do not necessarily mention their ethnic background, because it is simply not relevant to the discussion engaged in.
Unfortunately Weidong Zhang’s dissertation is not available online but he kindly welcomes you to write him an email if you would like to read his work.