PEKING (Beijing), capital of China. In the second half of the 13th century Marco Polo reported the presence of Jews in Beijing among the followers of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. The Scottish traveler, John Bell, who visited Beijing in 1720–21, found a few Jews, supposedly descendants of these early arrivals. This remnant disappeared and no Jews settled in Beijing until modern times. During World War II there were about 100 Jews of various nationalities (or stateless) in Beijing, mostly European refugees. All of them left the Chinese capital after the war.
I. Cohen, Journal of a Jewish Traveller (1925), 189–94.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.