Identity The Hu are a distinct ethnolinguistic people group. Although their language is related to the Manmet and Angku who live in the same area, it does have significant differences. The Hu applied to be recognized as a separate minority in the 1950s, but their application was rejected. The authorities then offered the Hu a chance to be included as part of one of the several minority groups in the area, which they, in turn, refused to accept. In the 1982 Chinese census, the Hu were listed in a category of Undetermined Minorities.
History Although little is known about the origins of the Hu, they were probably part of a larger collection of Mon-Khmer peoples in the region who later came to form the official Bulang minority group. The Hu were formerly oppressed by Tai Lu and Chinese landowners until the Communist takeover of China in 1949. The land redistribution programs of the 1950s ended their oppression.
Customs The Hu live simple lives, tending to their rice paddies that are skillfully built into the mountain slopes.
Religion Although on the surface the Hu claim to be Buddhists, their daily lives are much more influenced by animistic beliefs. They fear demons and believe all sickness and bad luck comes upon them as a result of upsetting the delicate balance between the natural and spiritual worlds.
Christianity The Hu are a people group untouched by the message of the gospel. Few have ever heard the name of Jesus Christ. In the past 200 years there have been numerous courageous missionaries in China, but none ever visited the Hu. Hudson Taylor, the most famous of all missionaries to China, once issued this challenge which can accurately be applied to the Hu today: "His Name, His attributes, they have never heard; His kingdom is not proclaimed among them. His will is not made known to them. Do you believe that each unit of these millions has a precious soul, and that there is no other Name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved except that of Jesus? Do you believe that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life?; that no man comes to the Father but through Him? If so, think of the state of these unsaved ones and solemnly examine yourself in the sight of God to see whether you are doing your utmost to make Him known to them."
Linguist J.-O. Svantesson listed a 1984 figure of 1,000 speakers of the Hu language. They inhabit five villages in the Xiaomengyang District of Jinghong County in Xishuangbanna Prefecture. The Hu live near the Manmet people and are also surrounded by Tai Lu and Bulang communities. The area inhabited by the Hu - the extreme southwest of China - is semi-tropical. It is warm and humid most of the year, while the rainy season inundates the crops between May and September every year. (Source: Operation China, 2000)