Ethnic Chinese in Brunei

Ethnic Chinese in Brunei are people of full or partial Chinese  particularly Han Chinese  ancestry who are citizens or residents in Brunei. As of 2015, they constitute 10.1% of the country's population, making them the second largest ethnic group in Brunei. Brunei is home to one of the smaller communities of overseas Chinese. Many Chinese in Brunei are stateless.[4]

Ethnic Chinese in Brunei
Orang Cina di Brunei
اورڠ چينا د بروني
Chinese women and children in Kuala Belait, 1945.
Total population
9.6% of the Bruneian population (2021)[1]
English and Malay as medium of communication in schools and government  Mandarin (lingua franca)  Chinese varieties such as Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, Hakka
Buddhism  Christianity[2]  Taoism  Islam[3]  Chinese folk religion
Related ethnic groups
Singaporean Chinese · Malaysian Chinese · Overseas Chinese
Teng Yun Temple in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Ethnic Chinese in Brunei were encouraged to settle because of their commercial and business acumen. The biggest Chinese group is the Hokkien; many originated from Kinmen and Xiamen in China. The Hakka and Cantonese represent a minority of the Chinese population. Despite their small numbers, the Hokkien have a considerable presence in Brunei's private and business sector, providing commercial and entrepreneurial expertise and often operating joint business ventures with Malaysian Chinese enterprises.[5]


During the Song Dynasty (960 AD to 1296 AD) trade was active between Poni (Brunei) and China. By the 17th century, Brunei had a Chinese community. However, trade declined in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was not until Brunei became a British protectorate that immigration increased again. Most of the immigrants arrived from Sarawak, Singapore and Hong Kong. In 1904, there were about 500 ethnic Chinese in Brunei, most of them British subjects. The discovery of oil in 1929 led to an increase in Chinese immigrants as many sought out the new employment opportunities related to this discovery of oil. The Chinese population continued to increase significantly during 1931–1947 when it quadrupled. In 1960, Ethnic Chinese made up slightly more than a quarter of the Bruneian population at 26%. The Chinese population of Brunei has declined significantly since then. Still, the Chinese population comprises 10.3% of the Bruneian population as of 2019, which places them as the second largest ethnic group in Brunei.[6][7][8]


As of 1986, it was estimated that over 90% were unable to obtain Bruneian citizenship, despite generations of residence in the country.[9] In recent years, ethnic Chinese in Brunei are allowed to obtain Bruneian Citizenship, however many encounter significant issues overcoming the Malay language exam which is a major requirement for gaining Bruneian citizenship.[10] An overhaul of the Nationality Act has been blocked by the Home Ministry.[11]


Around 65% of the Chinese population in Brunei practices Buddhism and Taoism. An additional 20% practices Christianity. There are smaller numbers of Muslims, practitioners of other religions, and Irreligious individuals among the Chinese community in Brunei numbering a combined 15%.[8]

Religion Bruneian Chinese
Religion Percent
Buddhism & Taoism
Other religions (Islam, etc.)

Notable people

  • Ong Sum Ping married Princess Ratna Dewi, the daughter of Sultan Muhammad Shah of Brunei. He was conferred the nobility title of Pengiran Maharaja Lela and elected Chief of Kinabatangan in the 14th Century.
  • Goh Kiat Chun (Wu Chun), actor and singer.
  • Roderick Yong Yin Fatt, former Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.[12]
  • Lim Jock Seng, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II and Minister at the Prime Minister's Office.
  • Goh King Chin, former member of the Legislative Council of Brunei.
  • Jaspar Yu Woon Chai, badminton player, Bruneian representative at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • Lim Jock Hoi, 14th Secretary General of ASEAN.[13]
  • Lau Ah Kok, owner of Hua Ho.
  • Amin Liew Abdullah, Minister of Finance and Economy II and Minister at the Prime Minister's Office.
  • Cornelius Sim, first Roman Catholic Vicar Apostolic of Brunei and first Cardinal of Brunei and Borneo.
  • Steven Chong Wan Oon, current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Brunei.
  • Ong Tiong Oh, member of the Legislative Council of Brunei and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Chung Hwa Middle School.
  • Andrew Shie, first Bruneian elevated as Assistant Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Kuching (Sarawak and Brunei).

See also


  1. "Population by Religion, Sex and Census Year".
  2. "Brunei". 14 September 2007.
  3. Islamic banking in Southeast Asia, By Mohamed Ariff, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pg. 24
  4. Tolman, Alana (8 April 2016). "Brunei's stateless left in a state of confusion". New Mandala. Retrieved 23 April 2022. Many ethnic Chinese residents of Brunei have lived in the kingdom for generations, accounting for 15 percent of the population. Yet, due to difficult and slow bureaucratic measures around immigration, they remain permanent residents, not citizens – they are essentially stateless.
  5. Richter, Frank-Jürgen, ed. (1999). "Overseas Chinese and Overseas Indian Business Networks". Business Networks in Asia: Promises, Doubts, and Perspectives. Greenwood. ISBN 9781567203028. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
  6. de Vienne, Marie-Sybille (2011). "The Chinese in Brunei: From Ceramics to Oil Rent". Archipel. 82 (1): 25–48. doi:10.3406/arch.2011.4254.
  7. "My China Roots". Retrieved 2022-07-26.
  8. Minority, Rights (May 2020). "Brunei Darussalam Chinese". World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. Limlingan, Victor Simpao (1986). The Overseas Chinese in ASEAN: Business Strategies and Management Practices. pp. 240–241.
  10. Hays, Jeffrey. "MINORITIES IN BRUNEI - Facts and Details".
  11. "Proposal to amend Brunei's law on citizenship turned down, AsiaOne Asia News". Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  12. "Bruneian who became ASEAN secretary-general | the Brunei Times". Archived from the original on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 2015-06-07.
  13. "Dato Lim Jock Hoi assumes office as new Secretary-General of ASEAN - ASEAN - ONE VISION ONE IDENTITY ONE COMMUNITY". 5 January 2018.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.