Finnish in China – China in Finland

China Press, December 6, 1936, cover page

Preliminary purpose of this project is to examine the Finnish presence and identity in China particularly during the twentieth century. By researching the Finnish, the aim is to evaluate more profoundly their cultural, political and economic relations with the Chinese and other foreigners in the country. The idea is to analyse the Finnish expatriates’ perceptions and visions of their imagined national belonging that we can understand as ‘space’ they created and produced. This mental and territorial space was the product of interrelations that were constituted through interactions with people (Massey, 2005) in China and in Finland.

The study will concentrate on research on various Finnish groups in China eg. the governmental officials, the missionaries and the commercial community. It is true that the affairs and image of Finland in China were dominantly produced by the Finnish governmental officials, and hence, their interests were regularly represented as an exclusive interpretation of Finnishness in China. However, personal experiences and trajectories of personal lives presented by expatriates, settlers and sojourners provide another perspective to the Finnish identity. Thus, these non-official narratives reveal uncensored perspective to the Finnish identity and existence in China.

Massey, Doreen, For Space, London: Sage, 2005.

For more information: Dr Tiina H. Airaksinen, University Lecturer in Asian Studies, University of Helsinki, email tiina.h.airaksinen(at)