Hohhot is the capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region that stretches from Heilongjiang in the far northeast to Gansu in the far west. All told it borders eight other provinces or autonomous regions. Although the area came under Chinese control in the 1920s, it was established as an autonomous region in 1947.
You may have noticed that Hohhot is not a Chinese-sounding name, and is not written in pinyin, as are other place names. Hohhot is an English transliteration of the Mongolian Cyrillic name of the city. In Chinese, the name of the city is Hu He Hao Te, which is a transliteration of the name of the city in traditional Mongolian. In other words, ask a Chinese friend (in English) whether they have been to Hohhot, and they may look at you funny. In Mongolian, it means “Blue City.”
Originally developed as a garrison town by the Qing rulers to establish and maintain their control over the region, it is now a thriving city of close to three million.
Christianity came early to the region; first the Nestorians, then Catholics, and later Protestants. Today there are both Catholic and Protestant churches, as well as numerous house churches. All of these have come under increased political pressure in recent years.
In 2016, workers discovered two 100-year-old stone monuments while doing renovation work on an old house near the Tongshunjie Church in the city that give us a glimpse of mission work in the city. The China Christian Daily wrote about the monuments, and we posted their article in Chinese Church Voices:
Contrary to belief, there are still monuments that remain undiscovered. Recently, during renovation work on an old house near the Tongshunjie Church in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, workers discovered two century-old stone monuments.
One of the monuments commemorates the life of a Swedish missionary named Anna Karlsson; her name is carved on the stone in English. Chinese names were listed on the other monument, perhaps the names of early Chinese Christians in the region.
Sister Feng, from the local church, told China Christian Daily that the monuments were excavated from a corner of an old house that is more than a hundred years old.
Deacon Liu Guilan said that the house had been built by Swedish missionaries as their living accommodations and that it stands out among the surrounding buildings. The house is listed as a “protected relic” by the government. Nobody is permitted to tear it down. Every year Swedish visitors come to visit the house and see the footprints left by their countrymen.
Situated behind a Buddhist temple in the Hui nationality area, the Tongshunjie Church has 2000 parishioners attending their Sunday service and 18 teams serving in specific areas. These areas include security, business fellowship, visitation, reception, Sunday school, and prayer. The church has a long history of approximately 94 years.
Travelling to Hohhot from Beijing is now only a three-hour journey on the high-speed train; by plane, it’s a one-hour flight. There are also flights to Hohhot from most major cities in China.
Since travel within and to China these days is difficult, I hope this video tour provided a small substitute!
Image credit: by ChirolJon, via Flickr.
Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio
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