Introduction / History The official classification of the Tai Pong is confusing. Most Tai Pong have been included in the Dai nationality by the Chinese government, but others have been included under the Zhuang. In addition, there are various subgroups among the Tai Pong—such as the La and the You—which may qualify as distinct ethnolinguistic groups. Little research has been conducted into the relatively obscure Tai Pong.
Records of contact between the Tai and the Chinese date back to 109 BC when Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty established the Yizhou Prefecture in presentday southern China. The Tai sent tribute to the Han Court at Luoyang and also sent musicians and acrobats to entertain the emperors. The Han Court gave the title "Great Captain" to the Tai chief. The Tai Pong have lived along the Red River for centuries. They use the same script as the Tai Dam and Tai Kao, which suggests historical kinship between these different groups.
What are their lives like? Many of the Tai Pong are indistinguishable from the local Chinese and Hani, alongside whom they have lived for many generations. Most Tai Pong no longer wear traditional clothing, nor do they celebrate any of their own historical festivals.
What are their beliefs? Because the Tai Pong live at the eastern extremity of the Tai groups in China, they did not come under the influence of Theravada Buddhism when it first arrived from India. They have retained their polytheistic and shamanistic practices, although many of the younger generation of Tai Pong are nonreligious and consider themselves atheists.
There are a small number of Christians today among the Tai Pong. Mission activity among them was already underway in 1919. In 1945 missionary John Kuhn joyously reported his visit to a mission station among the Tai Pong: "I shall never forget the Red River Valley. At Mosha I attended the twenty-fifth anniversary of the formation of the Shan [Tai] church and school there." Presently, however, the majority of Tai Pong have yet to receive a clear gospel witness. The small number of known Tai Pong believers are concentrated in one or two areas.
What are their needs? The Tai Pong people need to put their trust and identity in the hands of the loving God of Creation who sent his son to make it possible for them to enter the Kingdom of God.
Prayer Points Pray for the spiritual blindness and bondage to the evil one to be removed so they can understand and respond to Christ.
Pray for the Lord to provide for their physical and spiritual needs as a testimony of his power and love.
Pray the Tai Pong people will have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the King of kings.
Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among them. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.
Various subgroups comprising the Tai Pong language group live in a widely scattered area along the banks of the Honghe River in the southern extremity of Yunnan Province. (Source: Operation China, 2000)