Identity One linguist believes the Huizhou Chinese should be treated "as a separate sublanguage and its speakers as a distinct entity within the mosaic of Sinitic peoples."
History The Western Zhou Dynasty (1100-771 BC): It is thought that the Western Zhou rulers were a nomadic tribe who based their capital in Hao, near present-day Xian. The Western Zhou Dynasty came to an abrupt end in 771 BC, when barbarian tribes destroyed the capital of Hou. The Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 BC): The Chinese consider the Eastern Zhou period as one of the greatest in their long history. During this time the great Chinese philosophers Confucius and Laozi roamed the countryside. Since then, Confucianism, and the Daoist religion founded by Laozi, have left their mark on every generation of Chinese thought and their religions. During this era the "mandate of heaven" was instituted. Political rulers were believed to have gained their position from heaven itself.
Customs The Huizhou have a reputation as expert merchants and businessmen. A Chinese saying states: "No marketplace is so small there are no Huizhou people." By the sixteenth century, Huizhou merchants "began to assume a major role in the entire national economy [and] soon came to control much of the nation's rice, lumber, and tea trade."
Religion After taking control of the country, the Communists gradually implemented the atheistic, antireligion policies of Soviet Marxist Vladimir Lenin, who had stated, "Religion is the opium of the people. Religion is a kind of spiritual vodka in which the slaves of capitalism drown their human shape and their claim for any decent human life." But it begs the question whether the Communist system functions merely as a political system, or whether it also has some of the characteristics of a dynamic missionary movement with aspirations for world conquest.
Christianity Since 1949 Christianity has boomed in the region where the Huizhou live. There are an estimated 120,000 Huizhou believers. The three provinces where Huizhou is spoken contain some of the highest concentrations of Christians in China.
A 1987 study listed 3.12 million speakers of the Huizhou Chinese language. The majority are located in the southern part of Anhui Province - in an area previously known as Huizhou Prefecture - on the banks of the Xi'nan River. Since 1912 the city of Huizhou has been known as Shexian. In addition, 800,000 Huizhou live in the northern part of Jiangxi Province, especially in Wuyuan, Yuanling, and Dexing counties. Small numbers also live in Chun'an County of Zhejiang Province. The Huizhou region was badly hit by the Taiping Rebellion and lost as much as half of its population. (Source: Operation China, 2000)