China has the largest population of any nation in the world. Chinese people are often stereotyped as being of a single ethnicity, when in fact the population of China is made up of many ethnic groups. The stereotypes of Chinese people in fiction are nearly always applied to the dominant ethnic group — the Han Chinese, who were the founders of Chinese civilization. The Han themselves have great internal variation regarding linguistic, cultural, genetic, and regional features — they are often classified into sub-groups of the larger Han ethnicity.
In Western media, they often get lumped in with other East Asians.
Western tropes specific to Chinese people alone include:
- Chinese Laborer - Thousands of young Chinese men migrated to western North America and Australia in the hope of striking it rich off the gold rushes of the mid-19th century. They quickly became resented for "stealing" jobs from British and American workers, particularly the more successful individuals. The fact that some did well for themselves, and almost all of them were men, led to seemingly well-founded fears that Europeans in both countries would be 'out-bred' by the Yellow Peril - since foolish, easily-swayed (and impoverished) European girls in both countries were obviously too illogical and hysterical to be trusted to do the right thing and marry another European.
- Chinese Launderer - In The Wild West, and the 19th century inner-city slums of Britain, many launderers were ethnic Chinese, and were just as frowned upon as the laborers.
- China Takes Over the World - Yep. Because before and after Japan made her bid at military conquest, failed, seemingly made a bid at global economic dominance, and also failed, global conquest predictions have to go somewhere other than The USA.
In Japanese media, Chinese people often have a much more specific depiction. They have prominent roles in many anime, especially in fighting anime. Not surprising, given the length of China and Japan's relationship, plus the fact that there are a lot of Chinese people on the planet. Very seldom born in Japan, members of this trope are usually from mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. Often drawn in anime with narrower eyes, though this may not be the case with a main character or cute Anime Chinese Girl. Hei from Darker Than Black, who frequently has "normal eyes", is a case in point, with every other Chinese character in the series appearing with narrower than normal eyes.
Japanese tropes specific to Chinese people include:
- All Chinese People Know Kung-Fu - An unusually high percentage will know a martial art, and it will always be a form of Kung Fu, never a Japanese style.
- Anime Chinese Girl - A cute Chinese girl, usually with a variable accent.
General tropes that occur in Japanese portrayals of Chinese people include:
- Funny Foreigner - Chinese is a stock funny foreigner type in anime.
- Stock Foreign Name - A high chance of having the last name 'Li/Lee," although this does have some basis in fact with Li, Wang, and Zhang being the three most common Chinese surnames. Wong is a variant that almost every character from Hong Kong gets.
- The Triads and the Tongs - Will often be part of families, or organizations with a lot of power and wealth, implied to be the Triads. E.g. Mr. Chang from Black Lagoon, the Tao family from Shaman King, or the Li family from CCS.
- Verbal Tic - They will be portrayed with particular speech idiosyncracies (such as ending sentences with "aru yo"), although there's a decent chance their Chinese will actually be intelligible. This actually had to do with Japanese-Chinese relations in the 1930s. When Chinese people in Manchurianote tried to speak Japanese, they sometimes pronounced it incorrectly, and also used the word "aru" and the like. The Other Wiki has an article on this pidgin language, Kyowa-go (協和語).
Examples for any of these tropes or stereotypes should go under the relevant sub-entry, not on this page.