China is Full of Chinese People, Right?

China is Full of Chinese People, Right?

Wrong!  When I first starting serving the Lord in China I too thought China was full of Chinese people.  This is true for a large part of the population, but, the Chinese government recognizes 55 ethnic minority groups and Paul Hathaway in Operation China documents over 450 ethnic minorities.

When we see pictures of the average Chinese person we are most likely seeing a person from the Han people group.  The Han are for sure in the majority, 92% of the population of China is Han.  In fact they make up about 20% of the entire population of planet earth!  The Han people consider themselves to be descendants of Yan Di (Yan Emperor)and Huang Di (Yellow Emperor).  The name Han comes from the dynasty that followed Qin.  Enough about the majority let’s talk about the ethnic minorities of China!

What does ethnic minority group actually mean?  Well, here is a definition for you: pertaining to or characteristic of a group of people that share common and distinct culture, religion and language.  These characteristics bind together a group of people into communities, tribes and villages.  They often are isolated because of where they live and go unchanged for hundreds of years.  The group often has a distinct style of dress, speaks a dialect, they have certain physical features, dances and customs practice at certain times of the year and much more.

Ethnic groups in China are often referred to as nationalities.  The Chinese word minzu  is used when translating the English words “people” or “nationality”.  Ethnic minorities are all Chinese citizen despite often being referred to as nations, the Chinese word minzu does not refer to a person citizenship.

Most of the Chinese ethnic groups are very similar to the Han Chinese in physical features, but, there are some that do not resemble Chinese in the least.  Take the Uyghur people of China.  They are a Turkic ethnic group living in the western part of the country.  If you were to meet some of them on the street or see them in pictures you would never consider them to be Chinese citizens.  You probably would think they were from Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan.  They are all Muslims and would very much like to gain independence from China.

One of the saddest things about the Uyghurs is that at one point in their history to be Uyghur was to be a Believer in Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately, Christianity just disappeared from Uyghur society for a few hundred years.  No one really knows why this occurred, but, it did and today to be Uyghur is to be Muslim.

China is a diverse country.  There are hundreds of cultures, thousands of dialects and millions of people who need to Lord!  Most of the Ethnic Groups of China are unreached and  85%-95% unevangelized.  The need of laborers is great because the harvest is plentiful.  A good friend of mine used to say before he passed away “not everyone is called to go, but, everyone should struggle with the possibility”.

Da Yong
American serving the Lord in China
Contributor –

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