Ai-Cham in China

Joshua Project has identified the Ai-Cham only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The Ai-Cham have been erroneously counted as part of the Bouyei nationality in China. The Ai-Cham believe themselves to be a separate ethnic group and are unwilling to be identified as part of the Bouyei. Whereas Bouyei is a Northern Tai language, Ai-Cham is part of the Dong-Shui branch of the Tai language family. The Ai-Cham were probably counted as Bouyei by Chinese researchers because most of them are able to speak Bouyei, which is the local trade language.


The Ai-Cham find themselves sandwiched between giant ethnic groups, including the Zhuang to the south, the Bouyei to the north, and more recently the Han Chinese who have migrated into southern Guizhou in large numbers since the 1950s. It is possible the Ai-Cham were originally a group of Dong or Shui who long ago moved south to their present location. The historical roots of the Ai-Cham remain uncertain.


The Chinese have long had this famous description of Guizhou: "There are not three days of sun, not three measures of flat land, and the people do not have three coins." This saying proves true today: Guizhou is still one of the poorest and least developed of China's provinces. Despite abundant rainfall, the inhabitants are cursed by poor harvests due to poor returns from the rocky ground.


The Ai-Cham are primarily polytheists. They worship a multiplicity of gods, ghosts, and spirit beings. They believe all of nature has a soul, including mountains, rivers, trees, and even large rocks. The Ai-Cham also worship their ancestors and put plates of food out several times a year for the souls of their deceased family members. In the past shamans held positions of great power among the Ai-Cham, but their influence was diminished during the anti-religion campaigns of the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976.


The Ai-Cham are an unreached people group without a gospel witness. Few have any knowledge of Christ. Prior to the 1950s there were both Protestant and Catholic missionaries in southern Guizhou, although there is no record of any workers who specifically focused on the Ai-Cham. The Protestant efforts met with little success, but a small number of Catholic churches were established in some Bouyei villages.

Profile Source:   Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Ai-Cham (Eye-chum)
People Name in Country Ai-Cham
Population in China 3,000
World Population 3,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Atsam, Jiamuhua, Jinhua
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Bouyei
People Name General Ai-Cham (Eye-chum)
Ethnic Code MSY49z
People ID 10195
Country China
Region Northeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Approximately 2,300 Ai-Cham people inhabit 13 isolated villages in southern Guizhou Province, near the Bouyei and the Baonuo people. Hidden away among the never-ending range of mountains and the gushing rivers of Guizhou, the majority of Ai-Cham are concentrated near the towns of Di'e and Boyao in Libo County..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Ai-Cham: Di'e (3,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Ai-Cham: Di'e 3,000
For Primary Language: Ai-Cham

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.50 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.20 %)
0.50 %
Ethnic Religions
97.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
2.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
40.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
60.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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