I'd argue The tradition is as old as the Romans' Damnatio memoriae >>3288
Massive sage ahead.
The area south of the Yangtze is recorded to not be heavily populated by civilized (eg; non-tribes) until the late East Jin dynasty. Chinese "civilization", or at least the one that became the basis for the other dynasties, is acknowledged to be from the Zhengzhou area (Yin/ Anyang). There are other cultures that are acknowledged to have language at the same time, (Wuchang, Sanxingdui) but their systems/words appear to be have assimilated by the early Qin dynasty. There have been several societies to have evolved to challange the base understanding of "China" within the nine states, most notably the state of Wu, and Western Xia. In "Chinese" you trace the differences via the written character differences, since every god damned person speaks a different dialect, and Tangut, Bird Worm, Manchu, mongolian scripts are the few that are "non-Chinese" in nature to be used in official capacity. I think it was book of Han and records of the three kingdoms that scim over the assimilation of words from barbarian cultures. There's a very famous work from the Tang era writing about that but us "plebians" can't access it in full It undermines the concept of China continously rejecting foreign influences and easily assimilating barbarbians per the historical line
>China is a new concept itself.
The name China is new. Historically it was considered to be accepted as the nine states written in the Shangshu, 涂, 夾, 竞, 莒, 藕, 荊, 陽, 敘 and 虘. However, the proper unity of these states as a single nation was first achieved during the Qin dynasty.
You have to remember that Northern China (Most of Manchuria, Tibet, Xinjiang (Literally translated as "New Frontier") are not traditionally considered part of "China" proper. In addition, anything outside the great wall was not considered to be China proper.
Now, a modern day "Republic" originates from around 1900. It's mainly an ideological conflict based off the American republic (Sun Yat-Sen, Japanese "Democracy" (Chiang Kai-Shek) i and the Soviet system (Mao Tse-Dong). Unfortunately the US faction died out very early on due to lack of education, Sun was a bit of a pushover, and it didn't get rid of the corrupted government officals (Something the ROC would also suffer under Chiang). Obviously as we know no corruption exists in glorious paradise. There is much irony in Mao being from a wealthy landlord himself leading a revolution to execute landlords, lol