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Where in the World Are the Chinese?

Last week the World Economic Forum posted a short video titled “Where are the Largest Chinese Populations Outside of China?”.  Spoiler: Indonesia tops the list. You can view it here.

In 2012, we devoted an entire issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly to the global Chinese diaspora and the issues related to ministering to this population. On the introduction page, we summarize the issue:

China is experiencing a third diaspora. From South Africa to Ukraine, from Peru to Australia, 18 million Chinese have moved abroad legally, along with many others entering countries illegally, and have settled in 150 different countries since the reforms of 1978 through 2008.1 They are by no means a homogenous group. Professionals, business men and women, semi-skilled and unskilled workers, students and the wealthy, for a variety of reasons are leaving China, some for the short-term and others long-term. Do these people have opportunities to hear the gospel, and what impact is it having on them? Are Christians in their host countries reaching out to them? Are those who leave China as Christians ministering to their countrymen and others? What about the diaspora Chinese church?

Kim-kwong Chan writes about the missiological implcations of Chinese Christians in Europe, concluding that the Chinese diaspora there, even though there are Chinese churches, still constitutes an important mission field:

Therefore, the current Chinese community in Europe seems to be more of a target mission field, a diaspora community that requires mission work rather than a mission sending pool which could do mission work beyond the diaspora scenario. Furthermore, as most of the Chinese mission agencies are focusing on evangelism, there are still few missions to those Chinese in Europe who are living on the fringes of society, often as slaves or fugitives exploited by various groups.

Paul Pruitt writes about the Chinese diaspora in Africa, noting that there are upwards of 750,000 Chinese living on the continent, as construction workers, doctors, nurses, miners, and businessmen. By and large, however, they remain “unreached:”

Without doubt, the current Chinese diaspora in Africa provides an open door for reaching Chinese men, women and families with the Gospel. However, at present, ministry among them is in its infancy. Remote working conditions, language barriers, and the lack of missionaries to them mean that very few have access to the Gospel. If the African church is to reach the Chinese around them, they will need help learning the language, help understanding Chinese culture and worldview, and help understanding the best way to reach the hearts of the Chinese. In addition, it would seem that both Chinese and non-Chinese missionaries would be a valuable resource, and partnerships would be essential.

Finally, another great resource is “Mission among the Chinese Diaspora – A Case Study of Migration and Mission,” by Enoch Wan published in Missiology in 2003.

If you are at all interested in ministering to the Chinese outside of China, these resources are great places to start.

Image source:By Jakob Montrasio from Shanghai, China – Jakarta's Chinatown., CC BY 2.0,

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

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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