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19th Century Developments

The wars which followed during the nineteenth century were generally religious rebellions. Under the Manchu dynasty a long-continued system of repression and outrage drove the Moslems of the far west, probably men of a more heroic cast than the traders of the southeast, to revolt and retaliation. In 1817, as a result of official injustice, intolerance, and murder, the oppressed Mohammedans in the west took up arms against their tormentors, and were driven by the Imperialist troops into the fastnesses of the savage tribes on the frontier, with the loss of many of their number. Nearly a hundred thousand people fled over the mountains (or died while trying), in order to join their kindred people in West Turkestan.

The first attempt to expel the Chinese was made in 1822 by Jahangir, who was repulsed and retreated to the country south of Issik Kul, where he defeated a Chinese expedition. In 1825 misgovernment again drove the people of Turkestan to rebellion under Jehangir ; he overran the whole country. In 1826 he again tried to win Kashgar, and this time with success. Enormous forces were organized for its recovery, and after a trial by champions, in which a Kalmuk archer defeated a Khokandian armed with a musket, the Chinese won the day, and Jahangir was captured and put to death. Confiscations and executions followed, and 12,000 Moslem families were deported to Hi and settled as serfs under the name of Tarantchis. Forts, too, were built at all important centers and Chinese authority seemed to be stronger than ever.

In 1846, the result of the British operations against China and the weakness of that empire becoming known, the sons of Jahangir attempted another expedition. Kashgar was captured by treachery ; but the tyranny of the victors alienated the province, and the Chinese garrison at Yarkand was strong enough to expel the motley gathering of Kirghiz and Khokandi adventurers, in whose wake some 20,000 families left their homes and crossed the Terek Dawan in mid-winter. At Mong-Mien another outbreak was induced by the slaughter of more than 16,000 men, women and children, who were murdered like sheep at the instance of the Chinese officials.

The Taiping rebellion, which raged from 1850 to 1864, had laid waste the richest provinces of China. In 1855, apart from this convulsion, a fierce Moslem insurrection broke out in Yunnan. The rebellion in Yunnan was stimulated by a fearful massacre of Mohammedans, following on a petty quarrel, and was continued for some eighteen years. After a government led massacre of the Muslim population of the provincial capital Kunming, a Chinese Muslim scholar started a rebellion and in 1856 established an independent Islamic state centered in northwest Yunnan. The state survived for almost 16 years. Following the quelling of other major rebellions, the Chinese Emperor ordered his troops to concentrate their efforts on Yunnan; the massacres that ensued wiped out the majority of Muslims in the region. Estimates of the percentage killed range from 60 to 85%.

In 1862 there was a rebellion among the Moslems of Shensi and Kansu, which gradually spread across the desert. The Provinces of Kansu and Shensi were by far richer, and more populous in the early 19th Century than at the end of the century. The reason is because they were overrun and laid waste by a twofold rebellion. The first, that of the Taipings, affected especially the Yangtze region, in the South. The second, by some accounts still more disastrous, devastated the whole of the North. This was the Mahomedon revolt, which broke out there in 1861, and was completely put down only in 1878, after the taking of Khotan, the last stronghold of the rebels. The number of those who were then hilled in the two Provinces, is estimated to be about 10,000,000.

The Tunann revolt broke out in Kansu in 1861, and was caused by the Moslem aspiration to restore the Khoja dynasty. The rebellion spread Westward, and extended to Hi and Eastern Turkestan or Kashgaria. Wali Khan Khoja occupied Kashgar in 1867 and massacred the Chinese. Surrounding himself with fanatical Khokaudis, he ill-treated and oppressed the population, enforcing five daily attendances at the mosques, by means of cruel punishments, and forbidding the time-honored custom of plaiting the hair. Thanks to his unpopularity the Chinese army which attacked the usurper met with no resistance, and the Khoja fled back to Andijan, followed, it is said, by some fifteen thousand families. But probably all these numbers are exaggerated.

In the revolt of 1863, the Uygurs were successful in expelling the Manchus. The revolt of the Daranes or Dungenes, Mohammedan inhabitants of mixed Tartar and Chinese descent, which broke out in 1863, and was followed by a rising of the Kirghiz Tartars, resulted in a few years in the expulsion of the Chinese, and the subjection of all the revolted provinces to Mohammed Yakub Beg [Yakoob Beg], a military chief from Khokan. Turkestan (Kashgaria) remained in nominal subjection during the course of the Taiping rebellion ; but in 1864 its people again threw off the Chinese yoke. A third center of rebellion, the Dungani tribe, established its power over the eastern part of the Sinkiang, and overran the whole of Kansu, its forces penetrating as far as Shensi and even into Hupeh. In 1866, an unconnected rising in Ili placed that country under an independent Mohammedan government.

In Turkestan, south of the Tien Shan, the rebellion was followed by a confused swelter of contending factions, from which, in 1866, Yakub Beg emerged as conqueror and ruler of the western part of the territory, comprising the khanates of Kashgar and Yarkand. The kingdom was recognized by the Ottoman Empire, the Tsarist Russia, and the Great Britain. Beg gradually consolidated his dominion, the area of which in 1874 was estimated at 570,000 square miles, with a population of about 1,000,000. The establishment of a new state in Central Asia naturally attracted to a high degree the attention of the Governments of Great Britain and Russia, and active negotiations were carried on by both with Yakub Beg, who at first assumed the title of Attalik-Ghaza (Head of the Warriors). His bloody exploits were known even to the European world, and his sudden elevation to regal power was the theme of much admiring comment. His government was based on the Moslem law, and was very onerous. But his glory was short.

The imperial power was at a low ebb as a result of the Taiping rebellion and the subsequent disorders in several parts of the empire ; but as soon as men and money could be provided, the Mohammedan ulcer was dealt with, and in 1867 Tso Tsung-tang was charged with the task. A man of rugged simplicity, sober and frugal in his habits, a strict disciplinarian and much beloved of his soldiers, he combined consummate generalship with a policy of punishing rebellious cities by wholesale massacres and treacherous atrocities. He had learned his terrible lesson in the Taiping rebellion - "If I destroy them not, if I leave root or branch, they may destroy me"; and his duty was to his emperor and the empire.

Back came the Chinese and down went Yakoob Beg, his sun setting in a sea of blood. Being afraid of the Tsarist expansion into the Eastern Turkestan, Great Britain persuaded the Manchus to conquer Eastern Turkestan. The money for the Manchu invasion was granted by the British Banks. Tso Tsung-tang's campaign began in 1867 at Siangyangfu in Hupeh. Thence he advanced on Sianfu, which he took, and drove the rebel forces from Shensi. Then he entered Kansu, reconquering city after city, and driving the enemy before him, until, in 1870, he came before the walls of Suchow. Here he was stayed and began a siege which lasted nearly three years, during which he subsisted his troops by making them grow their own food. Having obtained foreign siege-guns, he captured the city in October, 1873, reducing it to a heap of ruins, and killing men, women and children indiscriminately. This was the last rebel stronghold in Kansu. He then advanced on Barkul and Hami, which he took, putting the entire population to the sword ; and he adopted the same measure of pacification at the taking of Manas in November 1876.

Large forces attacked the Eastern Turkestan in 1876. The Chinese Government, having restored order at home, was preparing a formidable force for the reconquest of its lost possessions beyond the Gobi. The task was very difficult, owing to the width of the desert, estimated at about 1200 miles, but the Chinese army was well disciplined, well equipped, and well led, the difficulty as to supplies being successfully overcome in a very simple manner. The advanced guard sowed crops in one of the rare oases, and an abundant harvest was thus provided in the following autumn. As soon as this was gathered in, an army 50,000 strong advanced without encountering any serious opposition. In 1872, the Chinese General Tso Tsungt'ang at the head of the Impérialiste, attacked the rebels, and took successively their strongholds, at Kami, Urumtsi, Yarkand and Kashgar. In the spring of 1876 it reached the neighbourhood of Urumchi. The capture of this town in August 1876, followed by that of Manas, fully re-established Chinese authority to the north of the Tian Shan.

By the capture of Manas the Dungani forces had been eliminated from the scene, and he had come in conflict with Yakub Beg. Over him he gained a victory at Turfan, and a second at Korla; soon after, in May, 1877, Yakub Beg died, either by poison or from disease. The Chinese commander, after Korla, captured in succession Kashgar, Yarkand, and, Khotan. The revolt was finally crushed by the taking of Khotan, 03 January 1878. By these victories Kashgaria was restored to the imperial rule, with such of its inhabitants as had survived. After this splendid campaign, which may be compared with the most brilliant efforts of Western commanders, Tso was ennobled as Marquis. The Celestials showed moderation in the hour of victory. They deprived the population of their horses, to prevent a fresh rising, but they appointed Moslem headmen and also recognized the religious law of Islam.

In 1884, Turkestan was incorporated into the Mandchu Empire. The Chinese-Manchu capturers gave to the Eastern Turkestan the name Xinjiang which meant "new territory", New border" or "New Dominion". This Chinese dependency, under the Empire, was placed under the general jurisdictional oversight of the Viceroy of Kansu and Shensi.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:30:06 ZULU