Chinese people in Pakistan

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Chinese people in Pakistan
Total population
60,000 (2018)[1]
Chinese · Uyghur · English · Urdu · other languages of China
Islam[2] · Buddhism, Taoism[citation needed]
Related ethnic groups
Overseas Chinese

The Chinese people in Pakistan (Urdu: چینی‎) comprise one of the country's significant expatriate communities. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has raised the expatriate population, which has grown from 20,000 in 2013 to 60,000 in 2018.[1][3]



During the 1940s many Chinese Muslims fled unrest in China and settled in Karachi.[2] However the Chinese community there is primarily of non-Muslim origins; their ancestors were Buddhists, but subsequent generations follow other religions or none at all. About 30% are estimated to have converted to Islam.[4]

Most Chinese in Karachi are second generation children of immigrants—the oldest generation have mostly died off, while the third generation have emigrated to other countries.[4] Common destinations for emigrants are the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, or to their ancestral country China.[2] They rarely wear Chinese clothing, but still retain the Chinese language, though in recent years they have shown increasing language shift towards Urdu.[2][4] Previously, the community was segregated by provincial origin, but with the establishment of a Chinese Committee to represent the community, they have become more integrated. They are concentrated in a few neighbourhoods, including near the PECHS and Tariq Road, as well as Saddar and more recently Clifton and Defence neighbourhoods in Saddar Town.[4] The Clifton and Defense Society areas has about 15 Chinese restaurants; the area is sometimes unofficially referred to as "Chinatown".[5] One of the more well-known of these, the ABC Chinese Restaurant, founded by Li Dianxian (李殿贤) in the 1930s, was once patronised by Zhou Enlai, and continued operating until 1988.[6]

Common professions include beauticians, shoemakers, dentists, and the restaurant trade; most members of the second generation tend to follow the same trade as their parents did.[4] Chinese dentists, in particular, have a reputation for providing quality service to the low-income residents of the city. Yet many of them are unlicensed and lack any formal training in dentistry. Instead, many of their parents had previously lived among the Chinese community in British Malaya (present-day Malaysia) and worked as dental assistants; when they came to Pakistan in the 1940s, they began practicing as full dentists themselves. There was a shortage of dentists in Karachi at that time, as there was only one dental school in the entire province of Sindh, at Hyderabad. They primarily provided simple procedures such as manufacture and fitting of dentures as well as extraction of teeth; however, in later years, some prospered enough that they were able to hire formally trained dentists to provide more complex procedures.[7]

Other areas[edit]

In Lahore, Chinese Muslims established a mosque called the Chini Masjid (Chinese Mosque). They typically intermarried with local people and assimilated.[8] The two Chinese shoemakers there, Hopson and Kingson, had a reputation for high quality.[9] Many Chinese people can be seen in Lahore visiting the Anarkali food-street.[citation needed]

In Islamabad, the Phoenix restaurant has become well-known. Their clientele includes Pervez Musharraf and ex-president Shaukat Aziz; Musharraf is said to enjoy their Peking duck, stir-fried beef, and garlic lamb chops.[6] There are currently over 25,000 Chinese citizens residing in Islamabad.[10]

There is a Chinese cemetery in Gilgit which contains the graves of Chinese workers who died during the construction of the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan during the 1960s and 1970s.

Migrant workers[edit]

Despite the emigration of members of older communities, the Chinese population in Pakistan has been bolstered by new expatriate residents. However, the growth in their population was somewhat interrupted by the September 11, 2001, attacks; fearful that war could break out in Pakistan, most Chinese residents sent their wives and children back home.[11] As of 2007, there were roughly 3,500 Chinese engineers temporarily residing in Pakistan for work on various state-run projects in various locations, especially in the construction of the Gwadar Port. Their total number might have been as high as 5,000.[12] About 1,200 were estimated to reside in Islamabad.[13] Then, between 2008 and 2009, the number of Chinese working in Pakistan grew sharply, to an estimated 10,000, even as expatriate workers of other nationalities left the country.[14]

Ethnic minorities[edit]

Some members of ethnic minorities of China, primarily Muslim Uyghurs and Tajiks from Xinjiang, have also settled in the northern parts of Pakistan.[15] The earliest migrants, numbering in the thousands, came in the 1940s in fear of communist persecution.[16] A few hundred more fled to Pakistan in the aftermath of a failed uprising in Khotan in 1954.[17] Later waves of migration came in 1963 and again in 1974.[18] Beginning in the 1980s, more Uyghurs who had left China to go on the hajj began settling in Pakistan instead of returning to China.[19]


There are Chinese community organisations in a number of Pakistani cities:

  • Gilgit: Chinese Association of Gilgit (吉尔吉特华人华侨协会)[20]
  • Islamabad: Chinese Association of Islamabad (伊斯兰堡华人华侨协会)[21]
  • Lahore: Chinese Association of Lahore (拉合尔华人华侨协会)[22]
  • Rawalpindi: Chinese Association of Rawalpindi (拉瓦尔品第华人华侨协会)[23]
  • Karachi: Chinese Association of Karachi (卡拉奇华人华侨协会)

Because of the various threats to Chinese workers in Pakistan, the Chinese embassy have also formed a liaison committee with the Pakistani government to look into safety issues.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Chinese influence outpaces influx". Dawn. 22 January 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Asadullah (2007-09-26), "Disappearing Chinese Diaspora", The International News, archived from the original on 2008-01-19, retrieved 2009-03-25
  3. ^ "RAW at frontline to sabotage Economic Corridor, China warns Pakistan". Express Tribune. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e Ramzi, Shanaz (2001-07-09), "The melting pot by the sea", Dawn, archived from the original on 2004-07-15, retrieved 2009-07-26
  5. ^ Karachi Chinatown,, retrieved 2009-09-12
  6. ^ a b "穆沙拉夫常进中餐馆用餐 乐为普通食客买单", China Central Television, 2008-02-04, retrieved 2010-04-20
  7. ^ Rizvi, Amna (2005-07-08), "Karachi's Chinese Dentists", Daily Jang, retrieved 2009-07-26
  8. ^ Wang, Daiyu (2007-10-27), "Chinese Muslims in Pakistan", Chowk, archived from the original on 2008-10-21, retrieved 2009-03-25
  9. ^ Hamid, A. (2006-07-02), "Lahore Lahore Aye: How Lahore has changed", Daily Times of Pakistan, retrieved 2009-07-26
  10. ^ Correspondent, Sana Jamal, (19 July 2017). "Mandarin mania grips Pakistan". GulfNews. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  11. ^ "担心大战爆发 巴基斯坦华人纷纷回国/Worrying that war will explode, Chinese in Pakistan go home one by one", People's Daily, 2001-09-27, retrieved 2009-09-11
  12. ^ "Peshawar killing evokes fear among foreigners", Dawn, 2007-07-10, retrieved 2009-03-25
  13. ^ a b "Liaison committee for Chinese security being formed", Daily Times, 2007-07-10, retrieved 2009-03-25
  14. ^ Fazl-e-Haider, Syed (2009-09-11), "Chinese shun Pakistan exodus", Asia Times, retrieved 2009-09-11
  15. ^ Sun, Jincheng (2009-07-19), "巴基斯坦维族华人领袖:新疆维族人过得比我们好/Pakistan Uyghur leader: Xinjiang Uyghurs live better than us", Global Times Chinese Edition, retrieved 2009-09-14
  16. ^ Rahman 2005, p. 60
  17. ^ Rahman 2005, p. 50
  18. ^ Ali, Wajahat (2004-05-29), "China says terrorists from Xinjiang hiding in Pakistan", Daily Times, retrieved 2009-03-25
  19. ^ Haider 2005, pp. 525–6
  20. ^ "巴基斯坦华人华侨与我外交官共庆元宵节/Overseas Chinese in Pakistan celebrate Lantern Festival with Chinese diplomats", People's Daily, 2009-02-10, retrieved 2009-09-11
  21. ^ "新疆海外交流协会慰问巴基斯坦华人华侨/Xinjiang Overseas Exchanges Association expresses appreciation to overseas Chinese in Pakistan", China Radio International, 2008-07-17, retrieved 2009-09-11
  22. ^ "'镜头里的中国'图片展在拉合尔开幕/'China in the mirror' photo exhibition opens in Lahore", People's Daily, 2008-06-24, retrieved 2009-09-14
  23. ^ Yin, Liang (2008-02-06), "巴基斯坦华人华侨为中国灾区捐款/Overseas Chinese in Pakistan make donations for China disaster areas", China Radio International, retrieved 2009-09-14


Further reading[edit]