The Chinese Nung of Vietnam
For over two thousand years, the Chinese Nung have been a significant presence in Vietnam. Arriving perhaps as early as the third century B.C., they made their way to Vietnam from the southern Chinese provinces of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, as well as from Hong Kong and Macao. At that time, Vietnam was controlled by the imperial Chinese military and naval powers. The Chinese Nung have always been the largest Chinese ethnic group in Vietnam, settling primarily in the south around Ho Chi Minh City. They speak Cantonese, the language of commerce among all Chinese in Vietnam and believed to be the oldest established form of the Chinese language.
The Chinese population in Vietnam grew over the centuries and peaked at more than one million in the mid 1970's. In the south, they controlled most of the food, textile, chemical, and electrical industries, and virtually all of the trade industry. Following the revolution in Vietnam, the government attempted to eliminate private trade. As a result, 250,000 Chinese fled Vietnam.
What are their lives like?
While many Chinese (known as Hoa in Vietnam) live in rural areas, most Chinese Nung reside in urban areas where they engage in trade and commerce. They have been particularly involved in construction, cooking, gold- and silver-smithing, laundry, painting, and in service industries. While retaining cultural ties with their own people, they live among the Vietnamese and participate in many of the same businesses and recreational activities.
The center of Chinese Nung society is the family, which includes the immediate relatives and the ancestors extending back for many generations. The continued use of family names from past generations reflects this emphasis. The family unit provides an economic safety net for its members. In turn, the standards of family devotion, loyalty, and pride are woven into each member. Rituals to honor the ancestors make the family a strong religious unit and determine the welfare of the living members. A strong, unified family is deemed necessary for mutual protection in a competitive and alien society. It also is of great advantage in helping a new immigrant family member integrate into life in Vietnam. Many attempts have been made by the government to force the Chinese Nung to assimilate as Vietnamese citizens, but thus far, they have resisted.
The Chinese Nung family ranges from a small nuclear family to a larger group including several small families under one roof. Each generation may have its own apartment within the house. As in the rest of Chinese society, the Chinese Nung family is patriarchal (male dominated), with the leadership passing to the eldest or most worthy son. Elders generally exert great influence, and parents decide the marriages of their children. The choice of husband or wife is often determined by business considerations and the strong desire to have a family with equal social standing.
Festivals are an important part of life for the Chinese Nung. Theatrical ensembles often perform at festivals and ceremonies, with displays of Chinese martial arts and dragon dances. Some of the most common musical instruments include the bamboo flute, the two- or three-stringed viola, and the zither.
What are their beliefs?
The religion of the Chinese Nung is a complex mixture of Buddhism, ancestor worship (veneration of deceased relatives), animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits), Taoism, and Confucianism. Ancestor worship is perhaps the most pervasive belief system. It is the duty of the eldest son to conduct the ancestral rites, which perpetuate the memory of the deceased family members and provide for their needs after death. Such ceremonies are believed to help unite the family, as they show affection for the dead and appease them.
What are their needs?
Although the Bible and other Christian resources are available to the Chinese Nung, the Communist government of Vietnam severely restricts missions work. Also, there is great pressure to hold to the traditional ancestral worship rituals. To abandon them would be viewed as dishonoring the family. Prayer is the first step toward reaching the Chinese Nung with the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Chinese Nung bound for many generations.
- Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is currently targeting the Chinese Nung.
- Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Chinese Nung.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in their area.
- Pray that God will give the Chinese Nung believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up long term workers who will join the few who have already responded.
- Pray that the doors of Vietnam will soon open to missionaries so that the Gospel may be freely proclaimed.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Chinese Nung church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Chinese Nung
- Country: Vietnam
- Their language: Yueh (Cantonese)
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 3%
- Church members: 18,430
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 405,500 (66%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 208,800 (34%)
- Country: Vietnam
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 20
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.