There have been many famous and great personalities in Chinese history, who have become world famous for their talents and achievements. We are going to know about the Top 25 most Famous Chinese People of all time from ancient to modern times. The list of Top 25 Famous People of China sorted by Pantheon’s ‘Historical Popularity Index’ (HPI).
Most famous Chinese Historical Figures of All Time
Get to know 25 of the most famous Chinese historical figures who have made contributions in China’s honor and are known around the world! The names of these Top Famous Chinese people are ranked according to Pantheon’s ‘Historical Popularity Index’ (HPI) 2022. Pantheon aggregates information about individuals’ online popularity.
Famous Chinese people – wikipedia : HPI is currently made of five components: the “age” of a biography’s character (e.g. Confucius is more than 2,500 years old), number of Wikipedia language editions in which the biography has a presence (L), the concentration of the pageviews received by a biography across languages (L*), the stability of pageviews over time (CV), and the number of non-English pageviews received by that biography.
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This article contains people from the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong and Tibet. This list includes all types of personalities in China like philosophers, politicians, emperors, writers, artists, historians, poets, actors and many more. And most of whom are followers of Buddhism. Can you guess Who will be the Most Famous Chinese of All Time in this list?
Top 25 Most Famous Chinese People of All Time
The following 25 individuals are the most famous Chinese personalities of all time, according to HPI of 2022. The highest HPI is 100, and we have listed people with HPI over 75.
25. Xuanzang (HPI : 75.05)
With an HPI of 75.05, Xuanzang is ranked 25th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography has been translated into 64 different languages of Wikipedia.
Xuanzang (602–664), also known as Hiuen Tsang, was a 7th-century Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator. He is known for the epoch-making contributions to Chinese Buddhism, the travelogue of his journey to India in 629–645 CE, his efforts to bring over 657 Indian texts to China, and his translations of some of these texts.
24. Ip Man (HPI : 75.56)
With an HPI of 75.56, Ip Man is ranked 24th among the most Famous People of China of all time. His biography is available in 49 different languages on Wikipedia.
Ip Man, also known as Yip Man (1 October 1893 – 2 December 1972) was a Hong Kong-based Cantonese martial artist and a grandmaster of the martial art Wing Chun when he was 20. He had several students who later became martial arts masters in their own right, the most famous among them being Bruce Lee.
23. The Qianlong Emperor (HPI – 75.64)
With an HPI of 75.64, The Qianlong Emperor is ranked 23rd among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages of Wikipedia.
The Qianlong Emperor (25 September 1711 – 7 February 1799), also known by his temple name Emperor Gaozong of Qing, was the fifth Emperor of the Qing dynasty and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper, reigning from 1735 to 1796.
The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, he reigned officially from 11 October 1735 to 8 February 1796. In 1796, he abdicated in favour of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, out of filial piety towards his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor, who ruled for 61 years, so that he not officially usurp him as the longest-reigning emperor.
Despite his retirement, however, the Qianlong Emperor retained ultimate power as the Emperor Emeritus until his death in 1799, making him one of the longest-reigning monarchs in history, and dying at the age of 87, one of the longest-lived.
22. Wu Zetian (HPI : 75.86)
With an HPI of 75.86, Wu Zetian is ranked 22th among the most Famous People of China of all time. Her biography is available in 58 different languages on Wikipedia. Wu Zetian is ranked 2nd among the most Famous Chinese Women.
Wu Zetian (17 February 624 – 16 December 705), also known as Wu Zhao or Wu Hou, and during the later Tang dynasty as Tian Hou, was the de facto ruler of China from 665 to 705, ruling first through others and then (from 690) in her own right. From 665 to 690, she was first empress consort of the Tang dynasty (as wife of the Emperor Gaozong) and then, after his death, empress dowager (ruling through her sons Emperors Zhongzong and Ruizong), which had occurred before in China.
Unprecedented in Chinese history, she subsequently ruled as empress regnant of the Wu Zhou dynasty of China from 690 to 705. She was the only legitimate female sovereign in the history of China.
Under her 40-year reign, China grew larger, becoming one of the great powers of the world, its culture and economy were revitalized, and corruption in the court was reduced. She was removed from power in a coup and died a few months later.
21. Cao Cao (HPI : 76.13)
With an HPI of 76.13, Cao Cao is ranked 21st among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages of Wikipedia.
Cao Cao (155 – 15 March 220), courtesy name Mengde, was a Chinese statesman, warlord and poet. He was the penultimate grand chancellor of the Eastern Han dynasty, and he amassed immense power in the dynasty’s final years.
As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, Cao Cao laid the foundations for what became the state of Cao Wei, and he was posthumously honoured as “Emperor Wu of Wei”, despite the fact that he never officially proclaimed himself Emperor of China or Son of Heaven.
Cao Cao remains a controversial historical figure—he is often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant in literature, but he has also been praised as a brilliant ruler, military genius, and great poet possessing unrivalled charisma, who treated his subordinates like family.
During the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty, Cao Cao was able to secure most of northern China—which was at the time the most populated and developed part of China.
Cao Cao was also very successful in restoring public order and rebuilding the economy as the grand chancellor. However, his manipulation of Emperor Xian as a puppet and figurehead was heavily criticised, as state affairs were effectively controlled by Cao Cao instead of the emperor himself.
Opposition gathered around the warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan, whom Cao Cao was unable to quell. Cao Cao was highly skilled in poetry, calligraphy, martial arts and military strategy. He wrote many war journals, including commentary on The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
20 Most Famous People From China!
20. Du Fu (HPI : 76.16)
With an HPI of 76.16, Du Fu is ranked 20th among the most Famous People of China of all time. His biography is available in 116 different languages on Wikipedia..
Du Fu (712–770) was a Chinese poet and politician of the Tang dynasty. Along with his elder contemporary and friend Li Bai (Li Po), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets.
His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest.
19. Chiang Kai-shek (HPI – 76.83)
With an HPI of 76.83, Chiang Kai-shek is ranked 19th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography has been translated into 115 different languages of Wikipedia.
Chiang Kai-shek (31 October 1887 – 5 April 1975), also known as Chiang Chung-cheng and Jiang Jieshi, was a Chinese Nationalist politician, revolutionary, and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China (ROC) from 1928 to his death in 1975 – until 1949 in mainland China and from then on in Taiwan.
After his rule was confined to Taiwan following his defeat by Mao Zedong in the Chinese Civil War, he continued to head the ROC government until his death.
17. Empress Dowager Cixi (HPI – 76.89)
With an HPI of 76.89, Empress Dowager Cixi is ranked 17th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. Her biography is available in 87 different languages on Wikipedia. Empress Dowager Cixi is ranked 1st among the most Famous Chinese Women ever.
Empress Dowager Cixi (29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908), of the Manchu Yehe Nara clan, was a Chinese noblewoman, concubine and later regent who effectively controlled the Chinese government in the late Qing dynasty for 47 years, from 1861 until her death in 1908. Selected as a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor in her adolescence, she gave birth to a son, Zaichun, in 1856.
After the Xianfeng Emperor’s death in 1861, the young boy became the Tongzhi Emperor, and she assumed the role of co-empress dowager, alongside the Emperor’s widow, Empress Dowager Ci’an. Cixi ousted a group of regents appointed by the late emperor and assumed the regency along with Ci’an, who later mysteriously died.
Cixi then consolidated control over the dynasty when she installed her nephew as the Guangxu Emperor at the death of her son, the Tongzhi Emperor, in 1875. This was contrary to the traditional rules of succession of the Qing dynasty that had ruled China since 1644.
17. Hu Jintao (HPI : 76.89)
With an HPI of 76.89, Hu Jintao is also ranked 17th among the most Famous People of China of all time. His biography has been translated into 106 different languages of Wikipedia. Hu Jintao is also 4th most Famous living Chinese Person.
Hu Jintao (born 21 December 1942) is a Chinese politician who served as the 16–17th general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 2002 to 2012, the 6th president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 2003 to 2013, and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from 2004 to 2012.
He was a member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, China’s de facto top decision-making body, from 1992 to 2012. Hu was the paramount leader of China from 2002 to 2012.
16. Puyi (HPI : 77.19)
With an HPI of 77.19, Puyi is ranked 16th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography is available in 71 different languages on Wikipedia.
Aisin-Gioro Puyi (7 February 1906 – 17 October 1967), courtesy name Yaozhi, was the last emperor of China as the eleventh and final Qing dynasty monarch. He became emperor at the age of two in 1908, but was forced to abdicate on 12 February 1912 during the Xinhai Revolution.
His era name as Qing emperor, Xuantong, means “proclamation of unity”. He was later installed as the Emperor Kangde of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo during World War II.
15. Xi Jinping (HPI : 77.64)
With an HPI of 77.64, Xi Jinping is ranked 15th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography has been translated into 136 different languages of Wikipedia. Xi Jinping is also 3rd most Famous living Chinese Person.
Xi Jinping (born 15 June 1953) is a Chinese politician who has served as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and thus as the paramount leader of China, since 2012. Xi has also served as the president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 2013.
14. Sima Qian (HPI : 77.97)
With an HPI of 77.97, Sima Qian is ranked 14th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography is available in 114 different languages on Wikipedia.
Sima Qian (145 – 86 BC) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). He is considered the father of Chinese historiography for his Records of the Grand Historian, a general history of China covering more than two thousand years beginning from the rise of the legendary Yellow Emperor and the formation of the first Chinese polity to the reigning sovereign of Sima Qian’s time, Emperor Wu of Han.
As the first universal history of the world as it was known to the ancient Chinese, the Records of the Grand Historian served as a model for official history-writing for subsequent Chinese dynasties and the Chinese cultural sphere (Korea, Vietnam, Japan) up until the 20th century.
13. Jackie Chan (HPI : 78.11)
With an HPI of 78.11, Fang Shilong is ranked 13th among the most Famous People of China of all time, and the 2nd most Famous living Person from China. His biography has been translated into 139 different languages of Wikipedia. He is one of the most famous Chinese celebrities of all time.
Fang Shilong (born 7 April 1954), known professionally in English as Jackie Chan and in Chinese as Cheng Long, is a Hong Kong actor, filmmaker, martial artist, and stuntman known for his slapstick acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, and innovative stunts, which he typically performs himself. Chan has been acting since the 1960s, performing in more than 150 films. He is one of the most popular action film stars of all time.
12. Sun-Yet Sen (HPI : 79.18)
With an HPI of 79.18, Sun Yat-sen is ranked 12th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography is available in 118 different languages on Wikipedia.
Sun Yat-sen (12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) was a Chinese statesman, physician, and political philosopher, who served as the first provisional president of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China).
He is called the “Father of the Nation” in the Republic of China, and the “Forerunner of the Revolution” in the People’s Republic of China for his instrumental role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty during the Xinhai Revolution. Sun is unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for being widely revered in both Mainland China and Taiwan.
11. Li Bai (HPI : 79.27 )
With an HPI of 79.27, Li Bai is ranked 11th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography has been translated into 141 different languages of Wikipedia.
Li Bai (701–762), also known as Li Bo, courtesy name Taibai, was a Chinese poet, acclaimed from his own time to the present as a brilliant and romantic figure who took traditional poetic forms to new heights.
He and his friend Du Fu (712–770) were two of the most prominent figures in the flourishing of Chinese poetry in the Tang dynasty, which is often called the “Golden Age of Chinese Poetry”. The expression “Three Wonders” denotes Li Bai’s poetry, Pei Min’s swordplay, and Zhang Xu’s calligraphy.
Top 10 Most Famous Chinese people
10. Deng Xiaoping (HPI : 79.44)
With an HPI of 79.44, Deng Xiaoping is ranked 10th among the most Famous People of China of all time. His biography is available in 99 different languages on Wikipedia.
Deng Xiaoping (22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997) was a Chinese revolutionary leader, military commander and statesman who served as the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from December 1978 to November 1989.
After CCP chairman Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, Deng gradually rose to supreme power and led China through a series of far-reaching market-economy reforms earning him the reputation as the “Architect of Modern China“. He contributed to China becoming the world’s second largest economy by GDP nominal in 2010.
9. Dalai Lama (HPI : 79.98)
With an HPI of 79.98, the 14th Dalai Lama is the 9th most famous Person from Tibet, China. His biography has been translated into 116 different languages of Wikipedia. According to the Historical Popularity Index, the 14th Dalai Lama is the Most Famous Living Person in China as well as in India. Among the Most Famous Personalities of India, the Dalai Lama ranks 6.
The 14th Dalai Lama, also known as Tenzin Gyatso (born 6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama. He is the highest spiritual leader and former head of the country of Tibet. He is considered a living Bodhisattva, specifically, an emanation of Avalokiteśvara in Sanskrit and Chenrezig in Tibetan.
He is also the leader and a monk of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism,formally headed by the Ganden Tripa. The central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the Dalai Lama with temporal duties until his exile in 1959.
8. Zheng He (HPI : 80.31)
With an HPI of 80.31, Zheng He is ranked 8th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography is available in 131 different languages on Wikipedia.
Zheng He (1371 – 1433 or 1435) was a Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat, fleet admiral, and court eunuch during China’s early Ming dynasty. He was originally born as Ma He in a Muslim family and later adopted the surname Zheng conferred by the Yongle Emperor.
Commissioned by the Yongle Emperor and later the Xuande Emperor, Zheng commanded seven expeditionary treasure voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. According to legend, his larger ships carried hundreds of sailors on four decks and were almost twice as long as any wooden ship ever recorded.
7. Sun Tzu (HPI : 80.47)
With an HPI of 80.47, Sun Tzu is ranked 7th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography has been translated into 108 different languages of Wikipedia.
Sun Tzu (544 BC – 496 BC) was a Chinese military general, strategist, philosopher, and writer who lived during the Eastern Zhou period of 771 to 256 BCE. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, an influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking.
Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and East Asian culture as a legendary historical and military figure. His birth name was Sun Wu and he was known outside of his family by his courtesy name Changqing. The name Sun Tzu by which he is more popularly known is an honorific which means “Master Sun”.
6. Laozi (HPI : 81.11)
With an HPI of 81.11, Laozi is ranked 6th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography is available in 143 different languages on Wikipedia.
Laozi, also rendered as Lao Tzu or Lao-Tze, was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.
A semi-legendary figure, Laozi is usually portrayed as a 6th-century BCE contemporary of Confucius in the Spring and Autumn period. Some modern historians consider him to have lived during the Warring States period of the 4th century BCE.
A central figure in Chinese culture, Laozi is claimed by both the emperors of the Tang dynasty and modern people of the Li surname as a founder of their lineage. Laozi’s work has been embraced by various anti-authoritarian movements, and has had a profound impact on subsequent Chinese philosophers, who have both commended and criticized his work extensively.
5. Huang Xianfa (HPI – 82.93)
With an HPI of 82.93, Huang Xianfan is ranked 5th among the most Famous People of China of all time. His biography has been translated into 166 different languages of Wikipedia.
Huang Xianfan (November 13, 1899 – January 18, 1982) was a Zhuang Chinese historian, ethnologist and educator. He was the first college graduate of Zhuang ethnicity and trained at Peking National University under leading historians and linguists in the 1920s.
Huang was the first writer of a general history of the Zhuang nationality, but also a major advocate of the theory that there was no slavery society in the history of the Zhuang, and there was no slave society as a stage of social development in Chinese history.
The General History of the Zhuang is the first research book on the history of Zhuang nationality and The “Bagui School” he created is the first school of ethnic studies in China. Huang is considered one of the founders of modern Chinese ethnology.
4. Bruce Lee (HPI : 83.04)
With an HPI of 83.04, Bruce Lee is ranked 4th among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography is available in 118 different languages on Wikipedia.
Bruce Lee (27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973) was a Hong Kong and American martial artist and actor. He was the founder of Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid martial arts philosophy drawing from different combat disciplines that is often credited with paving the way for modern mixed martial arts (MMA).
Lee is considered by critics, media, and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist of all time and a pop culture icon of the 20th century, who bridged the gap between East and West.
He is credited with promoting Hong Kong action cinema and helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films. He is one of the most famous Chinese Americans.
3. Qin Shi Huang (HPI : 85.17)
With an HPI of 85.17, Qin Shi Huang is ranked 3rd among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography has been translated into 173 different languages of Wikipedia.
Qin Shi Huang (259 – 210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of “king” borne by the previous Shang and Zhou rulers, he ruled as the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty from 221 to 210 BC.
His self-invented title “emperor” would continue to be borne by Chinese rulers for the next two millennia. Historically, he was often portrayed as a tyrannical ruler and strict Legalist, in part from the Han dynasty’s scathing assessments of him.
Since the mid 20th-century, scholars have begun to question this evaluation, inciting considerable discussion on the actual nature of his policies and reforms. Regardless, according to sinologist Michael Loewe “few would contest the view that the achievements of his reign have exercised a paramount influence on the whole of China’s subsequent history, marking the start of an epoch that closed in 1911”.
2. Mao Zedong (HPI : 85.88)
With an HPI of 85.88, Mao Zedong is ranked 2nd among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography is available in 166 different languages on Wikipedia.
Mao Zedong (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976) was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founder of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which he led as the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from the establishment of the PRC in 1949 until his death in 1976. Ideologically a Marxist–Leninist, his theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.
A controversial figure within and outside China, Mao is still regarded as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century. Beyond politics, Mao is also known as a theorist, military strategist, and poet.
During the Mao era, China was heavily involved with other southeast Asian communist conflicts such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cambodian Civil War, which brought the Khmer Rouge to power. The government during Mao’s rule was responsible for vast numbers of deaths with estimates ranging from 40 to 80 million victims through starvation, persecution, prison labour, and mass executions.
Mao has been praised for transforming China from a semi-colony to a leading world power, with greatly advanced literacy, women’s rights, basic healthcare, primary education and life expectancy.
1. Confucius (HPI : 91.76)
With an HPI of 91.76, Confucius is ranked 1st among the most Famous Chinese People of all time. His biography is available in 219 different languages on Wikipedia.
Confucius (551 – 479 BCE) was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the Spring and Autumn period who is traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Confucius’s teachings and philosophy underpin East Asian culture and society, remaining influential across China and East Asia to this day.
Confucius considered himself a transmitter for the values of earlier periods which he claimed had been abandoned in his time. His philosophical teachings, called Confucianism, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, kindness, and sincerity.
His followers competed with many other schools during the Hundred Schools of Thought era, only to be suppressed in favor of the Legalists during the Qin dynasty. After the collapse of Qin and the victory of Han over Chu, Confucius’s thoughts received official sanction in the new government.
During the Tang and Song dynasties, Confucianism developed into a system known in the West as Neo-Confucianism, and later as New Confucianism. Confucianism was part of the Chinese social fabric and way of life; to Confucians, everyday life was the arena of religion.
Table of the 25 Top Famous Chinese people
551 – 479 BCE
Philosopher and politician
Qin Shi Huang
259 – 210 BC
1940 – 1973
Martial artist and actor
1899 – 1982
Historian and ethnologist
6th - 5th century BC
Philosopher and writer
544 – 496 BC
Military person, philosopher, and writer
1371 – 1433/ 1435
Mariner, explorer and diplomat
14th Dalai Lama
1935 – present
Buddhist monk and philosopher
1904 – 1997
Politician and military person
701 – 762
1866 – 1925
Politician, physician, and philosopher,
1954 – present
Actor, filmmaker, and martial artis
145 – 86 BC
Historian and poet
1953 – present
1906 – 1967
1942 – present
1835 – 1908
1887 – 1975
Politician, and military person
712 – 770
Poet and politician
155 – 220
Politician, warlord and poet
624 – 705
1711 – 1799
1893 – 1972
602 – 664
Bhikkhu, scholar, traveler, and writer
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Related questions & answers
Question 1 : Who is the most famous person in China?
Answer – Confucius is the most famous person in China.
Question 2 : Who are the most famous Chinese women?
Answer – Wu Zetian and Empress Dowager Cixi are the most famous Chinese women, according to Pantheon’s Historical Popularity Index 2022.
Question 3 : Who are the most famous chinese actors?
Answer – Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are the most famous chinese actors, according to the Historical Popularity Index.
Question 4 : Who is the most famous Chinese?
Answer – With an HPI of 91.76, Confucius is the most famous Chinese of all time..
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