The Diaspora Han Chinese
A cluster of 17 Han Chinese groups.
Most Han Chinese speak one of the many Chinese dialects, which include Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hokkien. Although the dialects are very similar, the speakers of one Chinese dialect cannot understand the speakers of another.
The Han Chinese began fleeing to other countries in 1276, after the Mongol invasion. Many other upheavals and conflicts followed, and the Chinese continued to settle in other nations, particularly in Southeast Asia. Wherever they went, the Chinese settled almost exclusively in urban areas and became involved in business and commerce. Today, they are very inflential in the economies of many of these nations, in spite of the fact that they represent only a small percentage of the population.
What Are Their Lives Like?
During the Japanese occupation of China during World War II, a nationalist movement began to grow among the Han Chinese who lived outside their homeland. The members of this movement began to support China vigorously. When the Communists took over China in 1949, many of the Diaspora Han Chinese supported the revolution—not because they agreed with Communist ideology, but because they desired strong leadership and unity for their motherland. As a result, they became a source of concern for the governments of the countries in which they lived. Because the Diaspora Han Chinese had supported the Communist takeover of China, the government officials feared that they would also support Communist revolutions in their new homelands.
Many of the Han Chinese who live outside of China have maintained their culture and language to varying degrees, depending on the country in which they live. Except for those in Thailand, the Han Chinese continue to speak their various Chinese dialects. In most countries, the Diaspora Han Chinese have also continued living by their traditional Chinese customs, especially those regarding marriage and the family. One of the primary reasons they have kept their own languages and customs is because they have a deeply ingrained belief in the superiority of their culture.
The Han Chinese treat their children affectionately and usually indulge boys more than girls. The children are pushed to do well in school and are given much time to devote to their studies. The Han Chinese are known for their politeness and will go to great lengths to avoid disputes. However, once a dispute begins it is very difficult to stop because the Chinese place a high value on "saving face." Giving ground in an open dispute would cause them to lose face—something the Chinese try to avoid at all costs.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Han Chinese are very superstitious, consulting horoscopes in an attempt to determine what course of action will promote harmony and bring good luck. They also believe in a pantheon of spirits who inhabit the earth. The spirits of their ancestors supposedly roam the earth, and if treated properly, are benign and bring good luck. Ghosts are believed to exist as the spirits of people who are angry at the circumstances of their death; these spirits are said to be malicious and capricious. Deities are supposedly the souls of people who lived especially virtuous lives. They are believed to have spiritual powers that can be used to benefit those who worship them.
Although the Han Chinese still claim adherence to these beliefs, they seem to have little effect on their everyday lives. In fact, many of them are non-religious in practice.
What Are Their Needs?
The Han Chinese suffer from great spiritual needs. Many of their adopted nations are open to the Gospel, and several evangelistic tools are available in their Chinese dialects. Nevertheless, only a few Diaspora Han Chinese in Laos, Nepal, Tanzania, and Thailand have converted to Christianity. They remain in bondage to superstition and false religion. These precious people need loving Christians to introduce them to the One who can truly set them free.Prayer Points
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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