The Evolving Tapestry of the Chinese Diaspora

As the directors of the Global Diaspora Institute at Wheaton College, we are delighted to serve as guest editors for another issue of ChinaSource Quarterly on the Chinese diaspora. This journal was birthed at the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, and we had edited an earlier issue of ChinaSource Quarterly in December 2020. We thank you, CSQ readers, for your feedback on that issue and we hope that the diaspora will continue to be a regular feature of the journal henceforth. For this issue, we want to acknowledge Dr. Jeanne Wu who worked closely with us in producing this issue.

The contemporary Chinese diaspora is massive and expansive. It spans continents and comes in many shades and forms. Overseas Chinese are highly diverse and weave a rich tapestry of complex histories of migration and patterns of settlements. The faith and practices of people of Chinese descent who have migrated and settled in different parts of the world are even more composite. The different waves of migration to different destinations over a few centuries have grown into a complex web of relationships among the global Chinese diasporas. Varying ancestral origins and interaction with local cultures over many generations have led to the formation of diverse Chinese communities with distinctive traditions, spirituality, and customs. They have excelled in diverse fields, contributing substantially to their adopted countries while maintaining ties with China and Chinese worldwide. Chinese are so global now that they may claim, as the British Empire did in the past, that the sun never sets on the Chinese diaspora.

The dispersion of Chinese populations will continue to grow in the near future and the missional implications of this are enormous. The recent growth of Christianity in China and the country’s political upheavals are pushing a record number to migrate overseas. Many have found new freedom upon leaving their ancestral homelands and embraced the Christian faith in foreign lands and cultures. They have not only established vibrant Christian churches in all major cities of the world but have also emerged as a major mission force in their places of settlement and among other lands and peoples. The insightful articles from this spring issue of ChinaSource Quarterly detail how this is taking place in various contexts around the world.

There is a broad overview of the global Chinese diaspora from Dr. Jeanne Wu. Rev. Henry Lu addresses the recent surge in migration from Hong Kong to the UK and describes the mission to this diaspora. In a similar vein, Dr. David Ng reflects on the surge of migrants to Australia from the People’s Republic of China and from Hong Kong, creating opportunities for evangelism to the unchurched as well as revitalizing the church with the influx of believers.

Rev. Francis Tam takes stock of mission through diaspora in Canada as Chinese believers evangelize Muslims. Dr. Luke Zheng reveals the urgent need for more Chinese workers in his analysis of the pressing situation in Europe. Finally, for the book review, we have chosen a publication that emerged from a recent doctoral dissertation by Dr. Jeanne Wu about Chinese in the United States.

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Image credit: ChinaSource Team.
Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee is the Associate Director of the Global Diaspora Institute at Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has served at the largest Chinese churches in New York City and Chicago. He has also been a seminary professor at several institutions and has written for both the academic and ministry …View Full Bio

Sam George

Sam George

  Sam George, PhD, lives with his family in the northern suburbs of Chicago and serves as the Director of Global Diaspora Institute at Wheaton College Billy Graham Center near Chicago, USA. He is involved in researching and teaching about diaspora communities and world Christianity and serves as a global catalyst …View Full Bio