An online talk for the Contemporary China Centre at the Victoria University of Wellington. How many nations are there in China? Is there just one or are there many? What does the Chinese word for nation – ‘minzu’ actually mean? In this talk, I will trace the origins of the contemporary problems in Tibet and Xinjiang to debates among exiled Chinese reformers and revolutionaries in the early twentieth century about how to translate European ideas of ‘race’, ’nation’, ‘people’ and ‘citizen’ into Chinese.