Indians in China

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Indians in China
"Yìndùrén zài Zhōngguó"
Total population
Mainland China: 50,000+ (2015 estimates)[1][2]
Hong Kong: 28,600
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups

The Indians in China are migrants from India to China and their descendants. Historically, Indians played a major role in disseminating Buddhism in China. In modern times, there is a large long-standing community of Indians living in Hong Kong, often for descendants with several generations of roots, and a growing population of students, traders, and employees in Mainland China.


Antiquity and Middle Ages[edit]

In the Records of the Grand Historian, Zhang Qian (d. 113 BC) and Sima Qian (145-90 BC) make references to "Shendu 身毒", which may have been referring to the Indus Valley (the Sindh province in modern Pakistan), originally known as "Sindhu" in Sanskrit.[dubious ] When Yunnan was annexed by the Han Dynasty in the first century, Chinese authorities reported an Indian "Shendu" community living there.[3] After the transmission of Buddhism from India to China from the first century onwards, many Indian scholars and monks travelled to China, such as Batuo (fl. 464-495 AD)—founder of the Shaolin Monastery—and Bodhidharma—founder of Chan/Zen Buddhism. There was also a large Tamil Indian community in Quanzhou city and Jinjiang district who built more than a dozen Hindu temples or shrines, including two grand big temples in Quanzhou city. In 1271, a visiting Italian merchant recorded that the Indian traders “were recognised easily.” “These rich Indian men and women mainly live on vegetables, milk and rice,” he wrote, unlike the Chinese “who eat meat and fish.” [4] As retribution for supporting the Ispah revolt, Chen's armies exterminated most of the Tamil Indians, the small remainder of them who survived were deported to other parts of the Quanzhou region like Jinjiang or Yongchun where they assimilated into the local population after adopting Chinese surnames or were murdered by the new government. They were often mistook for being Hui people or simply grouped together as foreigners by the locals.

Colonial Era[edit]

Indians (as well as people from elsewhere in the Portuguese colonial empire) were among the crew of the Portuguese ships trading on the Chinese coast beginning in the sixteenth century. For example, Galeote Pereira, one of the Portuguese smugglers captured off the Fujian coast in 1549 and exiled to Guangxi, mentions Gujarati servants among his companions.[5] In the same century Indians from former Portuguese Indian Colonies (notably Goa) settled in Macau in small numbers. [6]

The history of the Indians in Hong Kong could be drawn back since the day of British occupation. When the Union flag of the United Kingdom was hoisted on 26 January 1841, there were around 2,700[7] Indian troops participated. They had played an important role for the development of Hong Kong in early days. The most mentionable were the contributions of the set up of the University of Hong Kong (HKU)[8] and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).[9] Also, the Star Ferry was founded by Indians in 1888. In 1952, business leaders of the Indian community have founded The Indian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong (ICCHK). It aimed at promoting and improving the image of India trade in Hong Kong and southern China.

In Guyana, many Indian women marry Chinese men due to the lack of Chinese women in the early days of settlement.[10] Creole sexual relationships and marriages with Chinese and Indians was rare,[11] however, more common was Indian women and Chinese men establishing sexual relations with each other and some Chinese men took their Indian wives back with them to China.[12]

In China of Regions with significant populations[edit]

Hong Kong[edit]

Most Indians stepped into the fields like international companies, banking, airlines, travel agents, medical, media and insurance sector.[13] The banking and financial sector had the strongest presence of Indian professionals. Information technology and telecommunications have also interested highly qualified Indians. In the 1950s, tailoring had become an industry that was popular with Indians and around 200 tailoring shops were owned by them at that time.[citation needed]


Mainland China[edit]

The number in the Mainland is growing rapidly with the Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China recording 15,051 Indian nationals living in mainland China as of 2010.[2] Other sources report more with a columnist for the Economic Times stating that the number of Indians in China was 45-48,000 in 2015.[14] Many Indians in China are students, traders and professionals employed with MNCs, Indian companies and banks.

There are three Indian community associations in the country.[15]

Medical Students[edit]

There are a total 13,000 Indian students in China as of 2015.[14] Many of them study medicine; a wave of Indian students at Chinese medical universities started in 2003 after reforms made it possible for Chinese credentials to be accepted for qualification in India.[16] Students from Andhra Pradesh are particularly well represented with 5,000 medical students from that state in China in 2011.[17][18]

Indian culture[edit]

The Indian Embassy has been organising the Festival of India in China over the years. An important component of it has been the food festivals held in Indian restaurants, spread over nearly 45 Chinese cities.

The Chinese government has invited the Swaminarayan Trust that runs the Akshardham temples in Delhi and in Gandhinagar, to build an Akshardham temple. A huge piece of land has been earmarked in the Guangdong province, which will not only house the temple but also an Indian cultural centre which will include a traditional Indian music learning centre and also various Indian language teaching centres on this temple premises.[19]

Notable people[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "India and China need a push to encourage more people to live across the border".
  2. ^ a b "Major Figures on Residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and Foreigners Covered by 2010 Population Census". National Bureau of Statistics of China. April 29, 2011. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Tan Chung (1998). A Sino-Indian Perspective for India-China Understanding. Archived 2007-06-06 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Boxer, Charles Ralph; Pereira, Galeote; Cruz, Gaspar da; Rada, Martín de (1953), South China in the sixteenth century: being the narratives of Galeote Pereira, Fr. Gaspar da Cruz, O.P. [and] Fr. Martín de Rada, O.E.S.A. (1550-1575), Issue 106 of Works issued by the Hakluyt Society, Printed for the Hakluyt Society, p. 37
  6. ^ Countries and Their Cultures.
  7. ^ Kwok S. T., Narain, K. (2003).Co-Prosperity in Cross-Culturalism: Indians in Hong Kong.P.18
  8. ^ Kwok S. T., Narain, K. (2003).Co-Prosperity in Cross-Culturalism: Indians in Hong Kong.P.32
  9. ^ Kwok S. T., Narain, K. (2003).Co-Prosperity in Cross-Culturalism: Indians in Hong Kong.P.22
  10. ^ Brian L. Moore (1995). Cultural Power, Resistance, and Pluralism: Colonial Guyana, 1838-1900. Volume 22 of McGill-Queen's studies in ethnic history (illustrated ed.). McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. pp. 272–273. ISBN 077351354X. ISSN 0846-8869. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  11. ^ Brian L. Moore (1987). Race, Power, and Social Segmentation in Colonial Society: Guyana After Slavery, 1838-1891. Volume 4 of Caribbean studies (illustrated ed.). Gordon & Breach Science Publishers. p. 181. ISBN 0677219806. ISSN 0275-5793. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  12. ^ Brian L. Moore (1987). Race, Power, and Social Segmentation in Colonial Society: Guyana After Slavery, 1838-1891. Volume 4 of Caribbean studies (illustrated ed.). Gordon & Breach Science Publishers. p. 182. ISBN 0677219806. ISSN 0275-5793. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  13. ^ Kwok S. T., Narain, K. (2003).Co-Prosperity in Cross-Culturalism: Indians in Hong Kong.P.60
  14. ^ a b "India and China need a push to encourage more people to live across the borde". Economic Times. May 12, 2015.
  15. ^ ": India Times - India is hot in China".
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-06-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Indian doctors, made abroad". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 31 August 2009.
  18. ^ "Medical student from Andhra Pradesh commits suicide in China university". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 21 May 2011.
  19. ^ First Hindu Temple to be Built in China. Archived 2010-11-27 at the Wayback Machine