Information on the Ma Zhu religion and on the treatment by the government of persons who are affiliated with this religion [CHN19975.E]

A history professor at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario with expertise on religion in China stated during a 2 March 1995 telephone interview that Ma Zhu, known more commonly as Matsu, is the name of a female deity worshipped by sailors and fishermen in Chinese coastal provinces such as Guangdong and Fujian. During a 2 March 1995 telephone interview, this information was corroborated by a professor at the History Department of McGill University who is knowledgeable about China.

According to McGill history professor, Matsu was born in the Sung dynasty in the Fukien province, and because of her spritual power, she received after her death high titles from the Imperial court (2 Mar. 1995). One of the titles she received was Tien Hou, the Queen or Imperial Consort of Heaven (ibid.).

The professor of history at Lakehead University stated that to his knowledge, the cult of Matsu would be treated as a superstition by the Chinese authorities to a superstition (2 Mar. 1995). However, the professor suspects that Matsu worship would not be prohibited in China since it is a common belief among the people in the coastal provinces; corroboration could not be found among the sources consulted by the DIRB.

However, for further information on the cult of Matsu, please refer to the attachments. Also attached please find an August 1994 article on religious rights in China published in Human Rights Quarterly as well as an extract from the 1992 Asia Watch document, Freedom of Religion on the Chinese government's attitude towards superstitious actvities, which may be of interest.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find attached the list of additional sources consulted in researching this information request.


Professor at the Department of History at Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario. 2 March 1995. Telephone interview.

Professor at the Department of History at McGill University, Montréal. 2 March 1995. Telephone interview.


Asia Watch. January 1992. Freedom of Religion in China. New York: Human Rights Watch, pp. 12-13.

Human Rights Quarterly [Cincinnati]. August 1994. Vol. 16, No. 3. Eric Kolodner. "Religious Rights in China: A Comparison of International Human Rights Law and Chinese Domestic Legislation," pp. 455-90.

Jordan, David K. 1972. God, Ghosts, and Ancestors: The Folk Religion of a Taiwanese Village. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 1, 7-8, 109, 181.

The San Francisco Examiner. 12 February 1995. Fith Edtion. "Year of the Boar Roars In; The Big Parade; Chinatown Festival Has Become an Event Watched Around the World." (NEXIS)

Thompson, Laurence G. 1975. 2nd ed. Chinese Religion: An Introduction. Encino, Calif.: Dickenson Publishing Co., p. 60.

_____. 1973. "The Cult of Matsu." The Chinese Way in Religion. Compiled by Laurence G. Thompson. Encino, Calif.: Dickenson Publishing Co., pp. 196-201.

Other Sources Consulted

Amnesty International country file. 1993-present.

Asia Watch. June 1993. Continuing Religious Repressions in China.

Contemporary Religions: A World Guide. 1992.

U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993. 1994.

DIRB country file. April 1994-present.

The Encyclopedia of Religion. 1987.

Etat des religions dans le monde. 1987.

Massé, Hervé. 1982. Dictionnaire des sciences occultes, de l'ésotérisme et des arts divinatoires.

Mather, A. George and Larry Nichols. Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult. 1993.

Plume, Christian and Xavier Pasquin. 1984. Encyclopédie des sectes dans le monde.

Thiollier, Marguerite-Marie. 1971. Dictionnaires des religions.

Journal of Chinese Religions [Annandale-on-Hudson, NY]. Fall 1992-Fall 1994.

Other reference books available at the Morissette Library of the Ottawa University.