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Chinese women and children in Kuala Belait, 1945.
10.1% of the Bruneian population (2015)
|English and Malay as medium of communication in schools and government • Mandarin (lingua franca) • Chinese dialects such as Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, Hakka.|
|Buddhism • Christianity • Taoism • Islam • Chinese folk religion|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Singaporean Chinese · Malaysian Chinese · Overseas Chinese|
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.
Ethnic Chinese in Brunei were encouraged to settle because of their commercial and business acumen. The biggest dialect 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 entreprises.
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. In 1904, there were about 500 ethnic Chinese in Brunei, most of them British subjects. The discovery of oil in 1929 increased the population further. The Chinese population increased significantly during 1931-1947 when it quadrupled. Most of the immigrants arrived from Sarawak, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
As of 1986, it was estimated that over 90% were unable to obtain Bruneian citizenship despite generations of residence in the country. In the recent years, Chinese in Brunei are allowed to obtain Brunei Citizenship although more serious reforms are blocked by the Home Ministry.