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Sinicization is to make things in Chinese. While used as transliteration, it often refers in general to the process of becoming Chinese as well as becoming not Chinese (desinicization). The term has seen used in social science primarily to describe the assimilation of non-Chinese peoples (such as the Manchus) into the Chinese identity. Some social scientists object the use of the term because they claim that this term obscures the fact that sinicization is merely one form of assimilation and using a special term implies a special process.

In the politics of Taiwan, both terms have a specific meaning which means increasing cultural and economic ties with Mainland China or decreasing them, and both terms been used more commonly after 2001. After the 1990s, there is a general consensus on Taiwan in favor of the current political status of Taiwan (without specifying what that status is) and there is also a general political consensus in favor of the Taiwanese localization movement which involves emphasizing local culture and language such as the Taiwanese language.

The argument on Taiwan as of 2003 between supporters of Chinese reunification and supporters of Taiwan independence is over sinicization and desinicization. Supporters of Taiwan independence are generally wary of increasing cultural and economic links (such as the three links) with Mainland China which they feel is part of a grand strategy by the People's Republic of China to sinicize Taiwan thereby making Chinese reunification inevitable. Curious both the PRC and supporters of Chinese reunification on Taiwan agree with this assessment of the outcome of increasing links and that this is part of a grand strategy to take over Taiwan. They feel that this outcome is not a bad thing.

Another meaning is the process by which other peoples like the Korean and the Japanese are influenced by Chinese culture and organization. An example of this is the kanji writing system of Japanese language.

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