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 and influencing Taoism indirectly. 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. The majority of Indians are East Indian Bengali, Bihari as well as a high proportion of North Indians (including Rajputs, Marathas and Punjabis).


Antiquity and Middle Ages

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.

Aurel Stein discovered 5 letters written in Sogdian known as the "Ancient Letters" in an abandoned watchtower near Dunhuang in 1907. A letter in the collection was written by the Sogdian Nanai-vandak addressed to Sogdians back home in Samarkand informing them about a mass rebellion by Xiongnu Hun rebels against their Han Chinese rulers of the Western Jin dynasty informing his people that every single one of the diaspora Sogdians and Indians in the Chinese Western Jin capital Luoyang died of starvation due to the uprising by the rebellious Xiongnu, who were formerly subjects of the Han Chinese. The Han Chinese emperor abandoned Luoyang when it came under siege by the Xiongnu rebels and his palace was burned down.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

During the Yuan dynasty 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 Indians “were recognised easily.” “These rich Indian men and women mainly live on vegetables, milk and rice,” he wrote.[15] Due to the Ispah rebellion, most of the Tamil Indians were killed.

Colonial Era

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.[16] In the same century Indians from former Portuguese Indian Colonies (notably Goa) settled in Macau in small numbers. [17]

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[18] 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)[19] and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).[20] Also, promoting and improving the image of India trade in Hong Kong and southern China.

People's Republic of China (Mainland China)

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.[21] 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.[22]

Medical Students

There are a total 23,000 Indian students in China in 2019 and among them 21,000 study medicine.[23] Students from Andhra Pradesh are particularly well represented with 5,000 medical students in China reported in 2011.[24][25]

The growth of Indian medical students at Chinese medical universities started in 2003 after the Medical Council of India (MCI) accepted Chinese medical degrees for qualification in India. For the academic year 2019–20, MCI recognised English language degrees from 45 universities and colleges in China.[23] Chinese medical schools are attractive because of better infrastructure, labs and equipment, and lower cost with annual tuition around $4,000 in 2020, about half of the cost of private medical schools in India.[23]

Hong Kong

Main article: South Asians in Hong Kong

Most Indians stepped into the fields like international companies, banking, airlines, travel agents, medical, media and insurance sector.[26] 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]

Republic of China (Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu)

Main article: Indians in Taiwan

Indian culture

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.

Notable people


See also


  1. ^ "India and China need a push to encourage more people to live across the border". 12 May 2015.
  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. 29 April 2011. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  3. ^ Tan Chung (1998). A Sino-Indian Perspective for India-China Understanding. Archived 2007-06-06 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "The Sogdian Ancient Letters 1, 2, 3, and 5". Silk Road Seattle - University of Washington. Translated by Sims-Williams, Nicholas.
  5. ^ Norman, Jeremy. "Aurel Stein Discovers the Sogdian "Ancient Letters" 313 CE to 314 CE". History of Information.
  6. ^ Sogdian Ancient Letter No. 3. Reproduced from Susan Whitfield (ed.), The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith (2004) p. 248.
  7. ^ "Ancient Letters". The Sogdians – Influencers on the Silk Roads. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
  8. ^ Keramidas, Kimon. "Sogdian Ancient Letter III: Letter to Nanaidhat". NYU. Telling the Sogdian Story: A Freer/Sackler Digital Exhibition Project.
  9. ^ "Sogdian letters". History of International Relations.
  10. ^ Vaissière, Étienne de la (2005). "Chapter Two About the Ancient Letters". Sogdian Traders: A History. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 8 Uralic & Central Asian Studies. Vol. 10. Brill. pp. 43–70. doi:10.1163/9789047406990_005. ISBN 978-90-47-40699-0.
  11. ^ Vaissière, Étienne de la (1 January 2005). Sogdian Traders. Brill. pp. 43–70. Retrieved 19 May 2023 – via
  12. ^ Livšic, Vladimir A. (2009). "Sogdian "Ancient Letters" (II, IV, V)". In Orlov, Andrei; Lourie, Basil (eds.). Symbola Caelestis: Le symbolisme liturgique et paraliturgique dans le monde chrétien. Piscataway: Gorgias Press. pp. 344–352. ISBN 9781463222543.
  13. ^ Sims-Williams, N. (15 December 1985). "Ancient Letters". Encyclopædia Iranica. Vol. II. Encyclopædia Iranica. pp. 7–9.
  14. ^ Keramidas, Kimon. "Sogdian Ancient Letter II". NYU. Telling the Sogdian Story: A Freer/Sackler Digital Exhibition Project.
  15. ^ Krishnan, Ananth (19 July 2013). "Behind China's Hindu temples, a forgotten history". The Hindu.
  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ Countries and Their Cultures.
  18. ^ Kwok S. T., Narain, K. (2003).Co-Prosperity in Cross-Culturalism: Indians in Hong Kong.P.18
  19. ^ Kwok S. T., Narain, K. (2003).Co-Prosperity in Cross-Culturalism: Indians in Hong Kong.P.32
  20. ^ Kwok S. T., Narain, K. (2003).Co-Prosperity in Cross-Culturalism: Indians in Hong Kong.P.22
  21. ^ "India and China need a push to encourage more people to live across the borde". Economic Times. 12 May 2015.
  22. ^ "India Times - India is hot in China". Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  23. ^ a b c "Why Indian students will want to study medicine in China despite coronavirus". The Print. 17 February 2020.
  24. ^ "Indian doctors, made abroad". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 31 August 2009. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012.
  25. ^ "Medical student from Andhra Pradesh commits suicide in China university". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 21 May 2011. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011.
  26. ^ Kwok S. T., Narain, K. (2003).Co-Prosperity in Cross-Culturalism: Indians in Hong Kong.P.60