|at least 8,500|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Tsat (native) |
|Related ethnic groups|
|Li people, Chams, Malay people and other Austronesian peoples|
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The Utsuls ([hu˩ t͡saːn˧˨]; traditional Chinese: 回輝人; simplified Chinese: 回辉人; pinyin: Huíhuī rén) or Hainan Hui (Chinese: 海南回族; pinyin: Hǎinán huízú), are a Chamic-speaking East Asian ethnic group which lives on the island of Hainan, and are considered one of the People's Republic of China's unrecognized ethnic groups. They are found on the southernmost tip of Hainan near the city of Sanya.
The Utsuls are thought to be descendants of Cham refugees who fled their homeland of Champa in what is now modern central Vietnam to escape the Vietnamese invasion. After the Vietnamese completed the conquest of Cham in 1471, sacking Vijaya, the last capital of the Cham kingdom, a Cham prince and some 1,000 followers moved to Hainan, where the Ming dynasty allowed them to set up a kingdom-in-exile. Several Chinese accounts record Cham arriving on Hainan even earlier, from 986, shortly after the Vietnamese captured the earlier Cham capital of Indrapura in 982, while other Cham refugees settled in Guangzhou.
Their population was greatly reduced during World War II by the Japanese who slaughtered more than 4,000 of them in their massacres of ethnic minorities in western Hainan and Sanya as Chinese armies were hiding among them from the invading japanese.
Although they are culturally, ethnically, and linguistically distinct from the Hui, the Chinese government nevertheless classifies them as Hui due to their Islamic faith. From reports by Hans Stübel, the German ethnographer who made contact with them in the 1930s, however, their language is completely unrelated to any other language spoken in mainland China. About 3,500 of them are speakers of the Tsat language, which is one of the few Malayo-Polynesian languages that are tonal. Whereas other Hui people are Muslims who do not have a distinct mother tongue or language that separates them from the Han, the Utsuls do have their own language, which is regarded as separate and distinct from Sinitic dialects. As a result, their classification as Hui people is controversial.
Dongna Li and Chuan-Chao Wang have typed paternal Y chromosome and maternal mitochondrial DNA markers in 102 Utsat people to gain a better understanding of the genetic history of this population. High frequencies of the Y chromosome haplogroup O1a*-M119 and mtDNA lineages D4, F2a, F1b, F1a1, B5a, M8a, M*, D5, and B4a exhibit a pattern similar to that seen in the neighboring indigenous Li ethnic minority. Cluster analyses (principal component analyses and networks) of the Utsat, Cham, and other ethnic groups in East Asia indicate that the Utsat are much closer to the Hainan indigenous Li people than to the Cham and other mainland southeast Asian populations. These findings suggest that the origins of the Utsat likely involved massive assimilation of indigenous ethnic groups. During the assimilation process, the language of Utsat has been structurally changed to a tonal language; their Islamic beliefs may have helped to keep their culture and self-identification.
Some common Utsul family names include Chen, Ha, Hai, Jiang, Li, Liu and Pu.
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