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The Utsuls are a tiny ethnic group which lives on the Chinesemarker island of Hainanmarker and are considered one of the People's Republic of China's undistinguished ethnic groups. They are found on the southernmost tip of Hainan near the city of Sanyamarker. According to the traditions of the Utsuls, their ancestors were Muslims who migrated southward out of Central Asia into their present day location. However, they are thought to be descendants of Cham refugees who fled their homeland in what is now southern Vietnammarker to escape from Vietnamese invasion.

While most of the Chams who fled Champa went to neighbouring Cambodiamarker, a small business class fled northwards. How they came to acquire the name Utsul is unknown.

Although they are culturally distinct from their neighbours, the Chinese government places them as members of the Hui nationality. However, from reports by Hans Stübel, the German ethnographer who "discovered" them in the 1930s, their language is completely unrelated to any other language spoken in mainland China. They are speakers of the Tsat language, which is one of the few Malayo-Polynesian languages that are tonal. In any case, they share nothing but religion with other Hui people. However, the Chinese government defines a "Hui" person as any person practicing the Muslim faith.


  • Ramsey, S. Robert (1987). The Languages of China. Princeton. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-06694-9

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