Li, Meifu in China

Joshua Project has identified the Li, Meifu only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The Meifu are one of five different tribes that have been combined to form the official Li nationality in China.


The Li are believed to have once been part of the great Yue race which splintered to become today's Li, Zhuang, Bouyei, Shui, Dong, and Dai minority groups. In the sixth century AD, Madame Xian, a political leader of the Yues in southern China, pledged allegiance to the Sui Dynasty This opened up Hainan Island to Chinese rule for the first time in history. The fact that the Meifu refer to themselves as "the Han people below" suggests that they may have been descended from Chinese migrants over the centuries, who intermingled with the Li and formed their own language.


In the past the Li lived in simple straw huts designed to withstand the many typhoons that strike the island every year. They dug a pit in the ground, placed bamboo or wood poles over it to form an oblong frame, and covered it with straw. The result was a low-lying structure that resembled an overturned boat. As part of a Li wedding ceremony, the bride's family must kiss a pig and two fowls. The bride's eldest brother remains her legal guardian after the marriage.


The Meifu Li traditionally believed in the existence of ghosts and devils, but now only the elderly practice spirit appeasement. The younger generation, having been educated in atheistic schools, rejects all such practices as foolish superstition.


There are no known churches or Christians among the Meifu Li. Although many people on Hainan have come to Christ in recent years - the total number of believers has grown to approximately 70,000 - the majority of the converts are among the different Han Chinese language groups in the northern part of the island.

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

People Name General Li, Meifu (Lee, May-foo)
People Name in Country Li, Meifu
Population in China 53,000
World Population 53,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Meifu, Moifau
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Li
People Name General Li, Meifu (Lee, May-foo)
Ethnic Code MSY49z
People ID 18552
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 The 1987 Language Atlas of China listed a population of 30,000 speakers of the Meifu Li language. The majority live along the western banks of the Changhua River in parts of the Cheyi and Dongfang counties. In the past the inhabitants of Hainan Island were decimated by disease, especially malignant malaria which wiped out whole villages. Minority populations grew little over the centuries and, in some areas, even declined. With the introduction of modern medicine, the Li people are experiencing rapid growth. The population of the Meifu Li is expected to rise to more than 41,000 by the year 2000, and 53,000 by 2010..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Hlai: Meifu (53,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Hlai: Meifu 53,000
For Primary Language: Hlai

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Jesus Film: view in Hlai, Has Film / Video
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.03 %)
0.10 %
Ethnic Religions
95.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
4.90 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
100.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
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

Copyright © 2015 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.