In 1939, China prepared a plan to settle persecuted European Jews in the southwestern Yunnan province, close to the Burmese border, according to documents recently found in Chinese state archives.
For unknown reasons, the plan was never implemented.
Additional information about Jewish communities in China is slowly emerging as scholars engage with the country and its history.
This growing knowledge includes information about the ancient community in Kaifeng in Henan province, and the Sephardi-Baghdadi community that settled in Shanghai in the wake of British imperial expansion in the mid-19th century.
Considerable information is also accumulating about the Jews who fled from czarist Russia due to the pogroms and revolutionary waves, and settled in Harbin and other centers like Shanghai and Tianjin, or the uprooted European Jews who came to Shanghai at the end of the 1930s and were concentrated in a “ghetto” in the Hongkou district.
However, documents I’ve recently come across from the Chinese state archives reveal an almost unknown government plan to settle refugee Jews in Yunnan, for humanitarian reasons.