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Bei in China


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Bei in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
23,000 Language unknown Ethnic Religions 0.05 % 0.04 % No No   

Bei in China

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Despite sharing an identical historic background with the Bai, those living in Lijiang now sternly insist on being called Bei and have designed a different ethnic dress. Why the Bei are so eager to separate their identity from the Bai is uncertain; but there is no doubt that they view themselves as distinct. One missiologist has said, "Ethnic identity is not so much in the blood as it is in the head (or in the heart) of the subject, or the observer."

The Bei were a part of the Bai minority group who migrated north about 250 years ago. As late arrivals in the Lijiang area, the Bei were forced to take the worst land on the mountains and to do backbreaking work as manual laborers. The plight of the Bei improved after the Communist victory, when land was redistributed equally to all the inhabitants of Lijiang, regardless of historic ownership. Bei women can often be seen in the busy market in Lijiang, dressed in red and blue sleeveless jackets, topped with a blue and white headdress.

The Bei are a family-oriented people. Marriages are monogamous and the men lead the families. Their diets are simple, consisting of rice, vegetables, and grain. Bei women do much of the heavy work, hauling baskets of stone attached by a strap to their foreheads. One Western writer who lived among the Bei in the 1940s claimed that among all the peoples of Yunnan they were "closest to Chinese, having adopted the Celestial Civilization almost in its entirety." Many Bei youth today find the Han Chinese culture attractive. Many speak only Mandarin and are not interested in following the customs and religious beliefs of their forefathers.

The Bei worship Daoist as well as Buddhist deities, although there have never been community temples or an organized religious priesthood among them. The Bei appear to use "whatever works," according to their felt needs.

Few Bei have any understanding of the gospel or the Person of Christ. There are a few Naxi believers in Lijiang, but they have yet to reach out to their own people, let alone other groups in the area. In recent years, teams of foreigners have blanketed the Lijiang area with Chinese gospel literature and cassettes; however, apart from scattering some spiritual seed, this seems to have been of little use to people who have no background to or comprehension of Christianity.

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Country: China
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Northeast
Persecution Rank:23 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Approximately 23,000 people who identify themselves as Bei live in Lijiang County in the north central part of Yunnan Province. Lijiang County - home to as many as 26 different tribes - is in a picturesque location with the 5,490-meter (18,000 ft.) Jade Dragon Snow Mountain towering above the Lijiang plain. There were a total of 36,494 members of the Bai nationality in Lijiang County according to the 1990 census.
(Source: Operation China, 2000)
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Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Bei
People Name General: Bei
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 114006
Joshua Project People ID: 18412
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 23,000
Population all Countries: 23,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General: Bei
Ethnic Code: MSY50z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Language unknown (23,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): Unknown     
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism30.00 % 
Christianity0.05 %(Evangelical: 0.04 %)
Ethnic Religions65.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious4.95 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent100.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 2   Less than 2% Evangelical. Initial (localized) church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
None Reported
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Bei in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Tibeto-Burman, other     Asia, Northeast    
      Bei China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Bei in China          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Language unknown  
    All Religions                              

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