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date: 18 January 2019

Xinjiang Under the Qing

Summary and Keywords

Xinjiang is a 642,800-square-mile area about the size of Iran, comprised of two different ecological zones (northern steppe and southern oases) in the heart of Eurasia. After subjugating the Zunghar Mongols, based in the area, in 1754–1759, the Qing stationed 25,000–45,000 troops there. The empire transferred 850,000–4,000,000 taels of silver from China annually for the financial support of the troops. The Qing also encouraged migration of Han and Muslim Chinese (Tungan) merchants and colonists to develop the underpopulated north, and they relied on oasis Muslim (or “Uyghur”) landlords (beg) to do the same in the south. For the first sixty years, the region witnessed the unprecedented expansion of local economy and the rise of a new regional identity. However, the Qing faced stiff challenges to their authority from the 1820s to the 1860s, as the former ruler of the area of southwestern oases, the Islamic saintly family (khwaja) that lived in exile in Central Asia after the Qing conquest, invaded Kashgar and Yarkand, often supported by the opportunistic ruler of the neighboring Khoqand khanate. The Qing was eventually able to fend off the khwaja challenge. However, the discontinuation of the silver transfer from China during the Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864) led to the fall of Qing rule in 1864. Tungans and native Muslims rose in revolt in the name of holy war, which culminated in the formation of an independent Islamic state presided over by the Khoqandi general Ya’kūb Beg. After the Qing empire reconquered Xinjiang in 1877, the Qing transformed Xinjiang into a Chinese province (sheng) in 1884, largely in response to the increasing activities of the Russia empire, driven by its commercial and territorial ambition. However, the subsequent opening of numerous “treaty ports” across Xinjiang, where extraterritorial condition prevailed, rendered the Qing government’s territorial control over the region incomplete.

Keywords: Qing, Zunghar, beg, oasis Muslim (Uyghur), Chinese migration, khwaja, Khoqand, Ya’kūb Beg, Russia, sheng

Qing Conquest

The Qing conquest was the outcome of a long-term Qing-Zunghar rivalry for the domination of Eurasian steppe politics, a rivalry that began with the clash between Galdan Khan (d. 1697) of Zunghar and the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722) of the Qing over the issue of domination of the Khalkha Mongol, a central piece in the geopolitics of eastern Eurasia at the turn of the 18th century. The clash was almost inevitable because the two powerful nomadic empires emerging from the former steppe domain of the Chinggisid empire competed for the same symbolic resources that legitimized their political power (Chinggisid grand khanship and the role of patron to the Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhist church), the same military allies (Mongols), and so on.

Decades of preparation included expansion of the communication and transportation systems and the reorganization of the logistic mobilization mechanism in northwestern China, primarily conducted under the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–1735).1 In 1754, the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796) launched a military expedition against Dawachi, the Zunghar ruler at the time, taking advantage of the internal schism among the Zunghar Mongols. With the powerful Zunghar noble Amursana on its side, the Qing military easily occupied the Zunghar base of Ili within a few months. After suppressing the initial attempt to drive the Qing from the area, led by its one-time ally Amursana, which occurred right after the conquest, the Qing went on to conquer the southern oases. The rulers of the oasis Muslims2 at the time were the brothers of Islamic saintly lineage, Khwaja Burhān al-Dīn and Khwaja Jahān. Descended from Makhdūm-i ’Azam (c. 1461–1542), they belonged to one of the most influential sufi orders in Central Asia, the Naqshbandī Sufi. The Makhdumzādas in turn were split into two branches in Eastern Turkestan—the Ishāqis (Black Mountain faction) and the Āfāqis (White Mountain faction). The khwaja brothers belonged to the latter branch.

One of the brothers’ ancestors, Āfāq Khwaja, had become the ruler of the area in 1680, replacing the Chinggisid ruler of the Yarkand Khanate, who had ruled the area for roughly 170 years with the help of the Zunghar Mongols.3 However, the Zunghar soon deposed the Āfāqi family from power and took the family members prisoner in Ili in the northern steppe, due to the constant effort of the Āfāqi khwajas to gain independence from the Zunghar. Instead, the Zunghar installed the Āfāqi’s rival, Ishāqi khwajas, as the ruler of the southern oases and appointed traditional secular elites of the area—nomadic nobles turned landlord aristocrats (begs)—as their agents in the civil administration. After the Qing defeated the Zunghar in 1754, they released the two Āfāqi khwaja brothers as Qing allies to the southern oases to regain power from the Ishāqi khwajas. They did regain power, but the khwaja brothers also decided to declare independence from the Qing when the Amursana’s short-lived rebellion threw Zungharia into chaos.4

In the campaign against the Āfāqis in 1758–1759, the Qing received assistance from three groups of native Muslims. The first was comprised of the leaders of the two easternmost cities of Eastern Turkestan, Turfan and Hami. They surrendered to the Qing early in the late 17th (Hami) and early 18th centuries (Turfan), even prior to the Qing conquest in 1754–1759 itself. The second group of allies included the begs, primarily from the middle part of the Eastern Turkestan—Ush, Kucha, and Aksu. After initially supporting the Āfāqi khwajas in the hope that they could rule the oasis area de facto under the khwajas’ nominal rule in 1758, they eventually joined the Qing side in order to preserve their privileged status and economic interests as “feudal lords” or “descendants of the sedentarized steppe aristocracy.”5 The third group was the Ishāqi faction, who joined the Qing as a continuation of their sectarian struggle against the Āfāqi. Prominent figures among the three groups received high- and low-rank titles of Qing imperial aristocrats, forming the mainstay of the local ruling elites under the Qing.

Isenbike Tongan considers the pro-Qing coalition as the conservative or reactionary force that halted the oasis area’s progression toward native state building in Altishahr, represented by the Āfāqi force. The Ishāqi force represented the “status quo of the notables and the Qing.” The old notables, the begs, represented the values from Turco-Mongolian political tradition in this area, which focused on power sharing and redistribution of economic surplus among the elites.6

Yet evidence shows that there was another aspect of the pro-Qing coalition. Notably, its earliest and most prominent component came from the eastern part of Eastern Turkestan—Hami and Turfan. Perhaps the eastern oases’ alliance with the Qing had to do with the area’s long-term commercial relations with China, which existed at the very least since the 15th century under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Turfan and Hami were the most avid participants in the official trade that was conducted in the Ming capital and some limited venues of frontier markets designated by the Ming, managed under the Chinese framework of the “tribute system”—the only form of transfrontier commerce with China sanctioned by the Ming government.7 These long-term commercial relations had gradually drawn the eastern oases under the increasing political influence of the Chinese empire, even before the Qing troops set foot in Xinjiang in the mid-18th century.

Qing Rule in Zungharia and Altishahr: Settler Colonialism and Indirect Rule

The Qing rulers’ ultimate strategic goal in the occupation of Xinjiang was to eliminate the possibility of the revival of a strong nomadic power in this area that could again threaten the Qing’s position as the supreme overlord of the entire Mongol world in Central Eurasia. In retrospect, the revival of Zunghar power was a remote possibility: numerous Zunghar Mongols, including women and children (estimated to be a total of 600,000 by Hua Li), perished due to the Qing’s retaliation or “massacre,” or were scattered into the neighboring Kazakh territory after the Qing conquest.8 The majority of the survivors of the Qing onslaught were later organized into Zunghar (Oirat) banner units under commanders loyal to the Qing and stationed in Ili. These soldiers numbered 1,600 in 1777.9 Yet it was always possible that another nomadic power could move into the northern steppe and fill the power vacuum.

To achieve this goal, the Qing government put Xinjiang under military rule. The Qing empire stationed 25,000–45,000 troops on a permanent and rotational basis in strategic locations in both the northern steppe and southern oases in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.10 The highest commander of the Qing troops in Xinjiang was located in Ili in northern Xinjiang, thus he was called the Yili Jiangjun (Ili General). Manchu military governors (amban, dachen) led residential forces in other locations. The stationing of troops required the Qing administration to devise a plan to mobilize the financial resources necessary to support that. Part of these resources came from prosperous provinces of China proper, through a system of revenue sharing. Referred to as xiexiang (“shared pay”) subsidies, they came in the form of silver.11

According to James Millward’s estimation, Xinjiang received 845,000 taels in 1759. This level of support remained relatively stable until 1826, prior to the Jahāngīr invasion. However, it sharply increased afterward, along with an increase in the number of troops stationed in Xinjiang. The amount grew to 850,000 taels in 1826, 920,000 in 1828, 1,010,000 in 1838, 1,429,988 in 1844, 4,168,036 in 1846, 4,152,353 in 1847, and 4,045,430 in 1848.12 This silver was mostly used to pay the salaries of the Qing officers and soldiers, although part of the salaries (i.e., food stipends) came to be paid in locally minted copper coins, pul.13

However, ever-conscious of criticism regarding the cost of running the empire in Xinjiang, the Qing administration made serious efforts to mobilize and develop local resources. For this purpose, it applied two starkly different schemes for colonization and imperial rule in northern and southern Xinjiang. The northern steppe was potentially fertile grassland, but it was seriously depopulated due to the war. There, the Qing administration brought in Chinese soldiers and convicts to work in the government-run farms (tuntian) in northern Xinjiang. It also recruited and organized the migration of Han Chinese and Tungan farmers, primarily from northwestern provinces such as Gansu, Shanxi, and Shaanxi, into Xinjiang, providing them with land and initial capital for settlement. These Chinese settlers became the mainstay of the agricultural population in northern Xinjiang, especially in the eastern part (including Urumchi), while Muslim settlers hailing from the southern oasis (Taranchi) became another major source of the agrarian population in the western part around Ili Valley. According to Millward, roughly 155,000 Han and Tungan homesteaders resided in northern Xinjiang by the turn of the 19th century.14 By 1864, there were 50,000–60,000 Taranchis and 60,000 Tungans in Ili.15

For this reason, the Chinese administrative system of prefectures (zhou) and counties (xian) emerged as the dominant civilian administrative institutions there, although other settler groups (oasis Muslims and Manchu and Mongol soldiers) were subject to different administrative systems.16 One thing to note is the growing civilian involvement (particularly by merchants) in agricultural operations in northern Xinjiang. The voluntary migration of Chinese merchants and farmers increased even after the Qing government abandoned its effort to directly organize Chinese civilian migration to Xinjiang in 1781. This resulted in a dramatic change in the composition of the Xinjiang agricultural colonies. In Urumchi and Barkol, the ratio between the military (bingtun) and civilian (hutun) colonies was 1:0.036 in 1766 [127,338 mu (bingtun): 4,588.2 mu (hutun)]. The ratio reversed itself dramatically later. In 1807, it became 1:15.7 [60,580 mu (bingtun): 95,4611.1 mu (hutun)].17

The southern oases were ruled under a radically different system. Referred to as the Muslim domain (huijiang) or Muslim tribe (huibu in Chinese; hoise nukte in Manchu), the south was comprised of six to eight major oasis districts, from Kashgar in the west to Turfan and Hami in the east. The locals called the area Altishahr (Six Cities) or Yättishahr (Seven Cities). Following the precedent set by the Zunghar Mongols, the Qing appointed Muslim governors (hakim) and other native officials to rule the oasis districts of southern Xinjiang. According to Joseph Fletcher, although these native officials were called beg, the Qing did not necessarily recruit the native officials from the aristocrat families who had hereditary claims to such title. In so doing, the Qing effectively eroded the leadership of traditional local aristocracies of the southern oases and to establish the Manchu dynasty as the source of all secular authority.18 In particular, the Qing often used the begs from the eastern oases (Kucha, Bai, Turfan, and Hami), whom they thought most politically reliable, as the hakims of major oasis districts in the west such as Yarkand and Kashgar.

Especially, functioning as the de facto revenue contractors of the oasis districts under this jurisdiction, the governors prepaid the total sum of tax quotas in cash and grain and collected that amount later; they also developed local mining sources such as copper and jade. If they continued to fulfill this resource duty, these begs were allowed to handle civil administration in the oases, such as policing, on their own, so long as the internal Muslim affairs within the oasis districts did not disturb the overall security of Qing rule in Xinjiang. Hence, this system is described as “indirect rule.”19

The cultural and ideological grounds for the Muslim begs’ collaborations with the Qing ruler were weak at best. The Manchu ruler’s representation as the political heir of Chinggis Khan, whom the begs’ ancestors formerly served, seemed unconvincing or rather irrelevant to the Turkic Muslim begs. For this reason, some beg officials did not even mention their relations with the Qing ruler in the local Turkic records, instead thanking the local Sufi saints or God for their power and prestigious position.20 According to Hamada Masami, some beg officials found their justification for serving Qing ruler in a Turkic Muslim tradition that entailed the “duty of the salt”(tuz/namak haqqi). According to this obligation, Muslims had a secular duty to pay loyalty to the rulers who hired them and paid their salaries (“salt”). This duty even applied to Muslims working for non-Muslim rulers, so long as the rulers did not actively interfere in the Muslims’ fulfillment of their religious duties. The Chinese rulers, represented by such pro-Muslim rulers as Tang Taizong and Ming Taizu, fit this mold of being noninterfering infidel rulers.21

In any case, the lack of ideological justification did not stop the begs from collaborating with the Qing for many practical reasons. Most important, their position as revenue contractors for the Qing provided the begs with privileged access to the vast amount of government-controlled resources, including unused land and government-controlled mines, that they could develop for profit. Not only did they acquire a substantial land grant package, including wildland (huangdi),22 dependent Muslim households who worked the land, and cash, they were charged to develop the government-controlled wildland for the government. The begs went on to build new waterways and irrigation systems on this land and developed various government-controlled mines, including jade mines in the Yarkand and Khotan areas and copper mines in the Aksu and Kucha areas. In so doing, they shared the profits of this development with the Qing administration since the beg officials often underreported the size of their land development.23 In the case of copper mining, when the Qing administration minted local copper coins, pul, from the copper production that was delivered by the Muslim governors, the Qing provided the substantial portion of the newly minted copper coins to the Muslim governors involved in the mining process. In 1761, the Qing administration minted 7,330 tangga of copper coins. It gave 6/10 of that amount—4,398 tangga—to the Muslims in the six cities that participated in the mining endeavor.24

The Qing rule resulted in the growing integration of the Xinjiang economy, both northern steppe and southern oases, into the Chinese and world economies. In addition to the 1–4 million taels of New World silver brought in as xiexiang transfer by the government, Chinese merchants, who arrived in large numbers after the Qing conquest, brought even more silver into the region.25 They went into the moneylending business in Xinjiang, lending silver to oasis Muslims, both beg landlords and ordinary farmers. In addition, the Chinese merchants brought coveted Chinese goods such as tea, silk, and rhubarb, which had a good market in Central Asia, while also providing a venue for the export of the local goods of Xinjiang—most important, jade from Yarkand and Khotan—into the lucrative Chinese market. The Qing administration also created a new demand for Altishahr raw cotton and cotton textiles. The Qing bought and collected cotton and cotton textiles from the southern oases and used them to obtain high-quality horses from the Kazakhs in barter trade in the northern steppe.26

Due to the intensifying commercial connections with China, the Xinjiang economy flourished during Qing rule. From the time of the conquest in the mid-18th century to the late Qing period in the late 19th century, the population of Xinjiang as a whole increased sixfold. Arable land increased tenfold, reaching roughly 11.5 million mu in 1887 according to one estimation.27 In the southern oases, the Uyghur population increased from a little under 200,000 in 1772 to 1,015,000 in the 1850s to the 1870s. During the same period, arable land roughly doubled, from 3.4/3.5 million to 6.8 million mu.28

Amid the dramatic political and economic changes under the century of Qing rule, the cultural and political perception of Xinjiang and its relations with China also changed radically. Han Chinese, who had considered Xinjiang as the “outer” region due to its cultural differences with the “inner area,” that is, China, began to see Xinjiang (and other parts of the non-Chinese Qing imperial domain, for that matter) as part of greater China. The change became especially pronounced after 1830, when some Manchu military officials suggested abandoning direct rule over Altishahr. A group of Han Chinese scholars, including Gong Zizhen, Wei Yuan, and Xu Song and his circle, opposed this plan, lobbying to transform Xinjiang into a full-fledged Chinese colony. On the ground in Altishahr, Chinese merchants fought off invaders from the neighboring Central Asian country of Khoqand and massacred native Muslims, presenting the Xinjiang oases as their permanent home.29

In addition, the Muslim oases (including those in Ili Valley) as a whole emerged as a coherent political and cultural unit, distinguished from eastern (China) and western neighbors (Khoqandis and Kirhgiz and Kazakh nomads) during the century of Qing rule. Undoubtedly, this was the result of the multilayered processes that had been centuries in the making, but the Qing rule accelerated it, at least in part. Laura Newby suggests that the movement of people between oasis cities was prime factor in the creation of a region-wide sense of “Us.” Factors such as interoasis trades, marriages, and pilgrimages—which were not directly related to the Qing rule—were the prime reasons for this interoasis movement of people. Yet the Qing empire also promoted the movement by appointing beg officials in the multiple oases outside their hometowns and forcefully moving oasis people around for agricultural development of Ili Valley, as punishment for their crimes.30

According to Rian Thum, what provided a native source for the rise of this new regional identity was the vernacular Turkic Tazkirah, a hagiography that emerged as a dominant genre of local history writing in the oasis Xinjiang during this time. Proliferation of the Turkic version of the hagiographies of the foreign Sufis and heroes who died in the oasis region, their recitation in Sufi shrines associated with dead Sufi and heroes, and the dissemination and reproduction of the texts through the system of interoasis trade and pilgrimages provided ordinary oasis Muslims from Kashgar to Turfan with a profound, shared sense of regional identity.31

The Crisis of Qing Rule: The Cause and Process

The Qing faced a sudden challenge to its imperial authority when Jahāngīr Khwaja (1790–1828), a scion of the émigré Āfāqi khwaja family who had been expelled by the Qing at the time of the Qing conquest, invaded Qing-controlled Kashgar with 500 followers in 1826. The invaders succeeded in occupying Kashgar, from where the Āfāqi khwaja family originated, and its neighboring oases of Yangi Hissar, Yarkand, and Khotan. The Qing found it surprisingly difficult to defeat them. Having expelled the invaders only after substantial reinforcement of troops from Ili and several months of intense fighting, they decided to shore up their defense of the southern oases by adding 8,000 soldiers to the previously existing 2,600 Qing troops in the “western four cities” (Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan, and Ush), where Jahāngīr’s forces had gained the most success.32 In the meantime, the northern steppe showed few, if any, signs of crisis during this period.

Joseph Fletcher considers the khwaja invasion as a religious war—a holy war (jihad)—that aimed to free the Muslim Xinjiang from infidel rule and return it to being “the abode of Islam.” The Qing rule was fundamentally incompatible with the Islamic faith of the oasis Muslims. The Muslims of southern oases constantly lived under the obligation of jihad, for an infidel could not reign as a legitimate patron of Islam.33

However, if it existed, the prospect of success of the holy war was not bright in the late 18th century. The old sectarian struggle between the Āfāqi and Ishāqi limited the scope of the local support that they could gain in Kashgar and its vicinity. The Āfāqi’s rival, the Ishāqi, who enjoyed the dominant position in the oasis under the Qing rule, would oppose them. In addition, and more important, the ruler of Khoqand, where the Āfāqi khwajas reportedly settled eventually, was willing to monitor the movement of the Āfāqi khwajas on behalf of the Qing. The Uzbek khan, located across the Tianshan Mountains from Kashgar, had a crucial interest in trade with the Qing-occupied Kashgar as his financial resource. They occasionally put the khwajas under house arrest so that the latter could not disturb the security of the Qing regime. The Qing may have had to pay some stipend to the Khoqand ruler to secure this service.

However, this situation changed after the early 19th century. From 1809–1820, the Khoqand ruler began to push for tax exemptions from the Qing administration on behalf of Khoqandi traders, and even asked to appoint his own representative (first titled qadi, and later aqsaqal) to tax the trade conducted by Khoqandi merchants sojourning in the Qing domain.34 When the Qing did not allow this, the Khoqand ruler turned a blind eye to the khwaja activities, or even actively supported the khwaja invasion into Qing territory. The Khoqand ruler hoped to use his ability to control the khwaja as leverage in negotiations to gain better conditions for trade with the Qing.35

Furthermore, according to Laura Newby, the common suffering under Qing misrule finally caught up with the oasis Muslims at around the same time. As a result, the Āfāqi and Ishāqi factions set aside their sectarian differences and began to rise up in unified revolt against the Qing regime. The Muslims may have understood the rule or misrule by the Qing administration, such as heavy taxation and forced labor mobilization, as religious injustice imposed on the Muslim population (including both Āfāqi and Ishāqi) by the non-Muslim infidel. This development is well reflected in the 1815 Ziyā’ al-Dīn revolt in Tashmaliq (120 li to the southwest of Kashgar), in which both Āfāqi and Ishāqi adherents participated.36

However, if such a united front was achieved, its strength and durability must have been quite limited because the sectarian divide never disappeared; indeed, it remained strong even after 1815. In the case of later khwaja invasions such as the Yusuf invasion of 1830, the results were largely determined by the sectarian divide: the Ishāqi of Kashgar remained loyal to the Qing, fighting the Āfāqi. In addition, the oasis Muslims were divided along class lines in their support of the Āfāqi khwaja invasions. The people who joined the Jahāngīr khwaja’s force most enthusiastically in Kashgar and Yarkand were rural oasis famers whose livelihood was threatened and dislocated by the beg officials’ land development and labor mobilization. That is, the Āfāqi khwaja–led resistance was less a unified Muslim opposition against Qing rule than rural resistance against the town-based begs and their Qing protectors.

Indeed, in the days leading up to the khwaja invasion, the support base for the Āfāqi khwajas had gradually been reformulated along class lines. In the late 18th century, the Āfāqi khwajas were much more successful at gaining financial donations from rural villagers than from the city population.37 This ruralization of Āfāqi khwaja support is astonishing given that the previous support base for the Āfāqi khwaja had predominantly been urban, particularly among caravan merchants.38 This did not mean that sectarian lines did not matter, but rather that, for some important portion of the population, sectarian loyalty was ever so subtly compromised by their class interests.

The composition of the forces that followed Jahāngīr Khwaja to invade Kashgar also reflects the unique social nature of the Āfāqi khwaja coalition. There were three groups of people that followed the khwaja—Khoqandis, Kashgar migrants, and the Kirghiz tribesmen of the Sayak branch. Chokan Valikhanov emphasizes their religious nature, especially emphasizing that the Kasghar migrant group were former adherents of the Āfāqi faction who fled their homes in Kashgar to join the khwaja in order to avoid religious persecution.39 Perhaps, that is true. However, the description of Kashgarian migrants by the Khoqand khan at the time also highlights the unique social nature of this group. The khan called Jahāngīr’s followers a “crowd” or “hooligans” (awabāshiyya, lükčäk)—a disparaging term that perhaps displayed a connotation of class.40 Later, the Khoqand khan labeled another Āfāqi khwaja with similarly disparaging terms with class implications, such as “beggar/robber,” urging the khoqand merchants in Kashgar not to cooperate with them.41 Those Kashgarian migrants who followed the khwajas may have come from the same group of rural farmers who enthusiastically provided donations to the Āfāqi khwaja in the late 18th century.

In any event, the party that gained most from the khwaja was the ruler of the Khoqand. After masterminding the second khwaja war in 1830, the Khoqand ruler achieved his previous goals and more. In 1832, the Khoqand reached an informal agreement with the Qing that allowed him to collect duties on goods brought by all foreigners to the southern oases (Ush, Kashgar, Yanggi Hissar, Aksu, Yarkand, and Khotan), and perhaps even Zungharia. In addition, the Khoqand ruler stationed his representative (aqsaqal) in the oases under the authority of a head supervisor, the superintendent in Kashgar. The Khoqand agents also claimed administrative and political jurisdiction over all the foreigners there.42

The similarity with treaties that the Qing signed with British and other European powers in the coastal part of China in the late 19th century prompted Joseph Fletcher to call the Qing-Khoqand agreement the “first unequal treaty” involving “full extraterritoriality,” although Laura Newby questioned whether this treaty was ever officially formalized by the Qing government, especially with regard to the Khoqand aqsaqal’s authority to tax all merchants in the Muslim oases.43

However, both Fletcher and Newby acknowledged that this was not a radical departure from old practice, but rather a reaffirmation of it. Extraterritoriality, or merchant autonomy, was a time-honored custom among the Muslim traders, and in China. Muslim trading enclaves in Zayton on the southeast coast of China had been left under their headmans’ jurisdiction under the Song dynasty (960–1279). Further, the grant of extraterritoriality in 1832 did not compromise the Qing’s sovereignty at all because Khoqand did not insist on the principle of national equality with China.44 Thus, it was a continuation of the well-established Chinese imperial practice for dealing with foreigners.45 In particular, it was well within the scope of the Qing tradition of legal pluralism, which had “personal jurisdiction” rather than unitary territorial jurisdiction as the fundamental principle, thus allowing the trial of the people belonging to different ethnic groups to be held to a different legal standard.46

Although the khwajas invaded Kashgaria again in 1846 and 1857, the Qing were able to fend off these forays with relative ease due to their increased troop presence and support of Han Chinese and Tungan merchants, as well as the decreasing popularity of the Āfāqi khwajas among the local oasis population. However, an unexpected development on the southeastern coast of China eventually drove Qing rule in Xinjiang into a fundamental crisis. The Opium War (1839–1842) and the subsequent rebellions within China put the Qing government in a financial straitjacket. The Qing government had to decrease the transfer of silver to Xinjiang. By 1853, Eastern Turkestan was receiving virtually no silver from China.47 To offset these financial difficulties, the Qing mobilized local Muslims to mine copper and increased the minting of copper coins. This process not only weakened Qing military financing but also increased the difficulties of local Muslims, who had to bear the burden of increased compulsory labor service, as local primary sources such as the Tārīkhi Hämīdī clearly show.

Since the impact of such changes affected entire oases beyond Kashgar and Yarkand, Eastern Turkestan oases, which had never participated in the khwaja-led opposition, also began to rise against the Qing. In 1864, the Tungan rose in revolt in Kucha, triggered by the rumor of an impending Tungan massacre there. Soon the Turkic Muslims joined the uprising, and the rebels eventually established as the leader of their regime Rāshidīn Khwāja, an ascetic (darvīsh) and descendant of another prominent Muslim saint, Arshad al-Dīn (d. 1364–1365).48 The revolt soon spread throughout Xinjiang, both in the north and south, from Ili to Kashgar. This resulted in the fall of the Qing regime in Xinjiang.

Although religion was not the prime motivation that triggered people to participate in the rebellion, according to Hodong Kim, Islamic religion played a significant role in uniting the diverse groups of participants in the rebellion, who had different class interests and local and ethnic allegiances.49 The participants in the rebellion had clear consciousness that they were participating in the Holy War (jihad, ghazāt) against the infidel rule of the Chinese.50 For this reason, the rebellions were initially led by religious figures who possessed the charisma derived from saintly lineage, such as the aforementioned Rāshidīn Khwāja.51

The final victor in the ensuing political struggle in Eastern Turkestan was a Khoqandi general named Ya’kūb Beg. He subjugated all of Xinjiang, including Turfan and Urumchi, by 1870, although his influence in the eastern oases was tenuous at best. Though he did not have religious credentials like other rebel leaders, he also framed his regime as one of holy war. Employing the title of the Ataliq Ghazi, meaning “Fatherly Holy Warrior,” Ya’kūb Beg promoted Islam and enforced the regime of shari’a law. He himself provided an example through his frugal way of life, as if he were a dervish. To secure his rule as a foreigner, he built a strong standing army of 40,000 soldiers and gave the highest positions in the military and provincial government to his fellow Khoqandis.52 To gain an aura of legitimacy for his rule in the eyes of the local population, as well as to acquire armaments, he launched a series of diplomatic relations with international powers, signing a commercial agreement with the Russian and British governments in 1872 and 1874, respectively, and acknowledging the suzerainty of the sultan of the Ottoman Empire in 1873.53

Although the regime faced many challenges, especially tensions among the three major groups that comprised it—Khoqandis, Kashgarians, and Tungans54—in the end, it was Ya’kub Beg’s strategic miscalculation that doomed it. As the Qing troops were approaching to reconquer Xinjiang in 1877, Ya’kub Beg ordered his troops to avoid confronting the Qing military directly. Instead, he sent his diplomat to engage in negotiations with the Qing in London. He even showed an intention to acknowledge the suzerainty of China if he could retain the complete control over the country that he enjoyed at the time.55 Eventually, his sudden death in April of that year, perhaps due to a stroke, led to the final unraveling of the regime.56

With this, the era of khwaja-led holy war in Altishahr that had lasted for roughly a half-century since 1826 came to an end. During Ya’kūb Beg’s rule, the many khwajas died, were executed, or lost political influence. This signaled the elimination and destruction of the religious class, khwajas and sufis, as the leaders of the local political force in Altishahr. In their place, different kinds of political leaders—secular, reformist leaders—emerged in the late 19th century.57

The Russians and Qing Xinjiang After 1877

While the Qing authority in the southern oases faced the khwaja invasions and the expansion of Khoqand power into the region in the 19th century, the Qing authority in the north had to face the rise of a foreign power—Russia—that turned out to be much more significant for the future development of Xinjiang politics, economy, and society. The Russians had been active in western Turkestan in the early part of the 19th century, gaining effective control over the Kazakh steppe and occupying Aq Masjid, on the lower Syr Darya, in 1853. During the same period, the Russians also expanded their commercial and political influences in Xinjiang by signing a series of commercial and border treaties with the Qing between 1851 and 1881.

In particular, the signing of the St. Petersburg Treaty (1881) was the watershed moment of Sino-Russian relations in Xinjiang. In this treaty, the Russian government agreed to return to the Qing most of the Ili Valley (east of the Khorgos River), a territory that it occupied in 1871 in the name of shielding citizens’ lives and property from the chaos of Muslim rebellion.58 However, it retained the westernmost part of the valley to resettle some 50,000 Tungan and Taranchi residents of Ili. Furthermore, Russians gained the right to trade in major Xinjiang cities, including Ili, Tarabagatai, Kasghar, and Urumchi, duty free (Article 12), as well as the right to open consulates in Turfan and Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu (Article 10) in addition to four original places that had previously been designed to host consulates (i.e., Ili, Tarbagatai, Kulun, and Kashgar).59 In 1895, Russia transferred the consulate in Turfan to Urumchi, making the latter the consulate general in Xinjiang.60

This significantly expanded Xinjiang-Russian trade, in which Xinjiang exported brick tea and rhubarb from China, as well as local livestock, hides, and cotton, in return for Russian textiles, furs, and manufactured goods. The number of Russian trading firms increased rapidly: In 1898, there were 3–4 Russian firms and 200 Russian merchants in Urumchi, and in 1907, there were 30 Russian firms and 800 Russian merchants.61 From 1902 to 1904, the Russian consulates of Ili, Urumchi, and Kashgar recorded annual exports worth almost 5.9 million rubles, and Russian imports to Xinjiang of 3.4 million rubles.62

The Russian expansion in Xinjiang elicited responses from the British empire, which was worried about potential Russian ambitions about India. The ensuing Russian-British rivalry in turn threatened the security of the Xinjiang frontier. A crisis broke out over territorial rights over Pamir, a contested border region located between Russia in the north, British India in the south, Afghanistan in the west, and the Qing in the east. As the Russian–British competition intensified in this area, Russia invaded eastern Pamir, over which the Qing claimed sovereignty on the basis of the stone stale established on the commission by the Qianlong Emperor in 1891. In response to the Russian invasion, the British Indian army invaded the domain of Hunza (also known as Kanjut) Kingdom in the southeastern part of Pamir, a kingdom over which the Qing had claimed suzerainty since the Qianlong period. This prompted the Qing to occupy Sariqol in response, and also to protest against the Russian and British governments via diplomatic channels. However, the two countries ignored the Qing’s complaints and signed a treaty to divide the Pamir among Russia, Britain, and Afghanistan in 1895, excluding the Qing from eastern Pamir. This became the international territorial boundary that still stands, setting the stage for the current territorial dispute in this region.63

In this context of growing threat to the security of the Xinjiang frontier, the Qing transformed the area into a Chinese province (sheng) in 1884. The rationale was that the Qing could defend the area more efficiently if it became more like China, with a Chinese administration, use of the Chinese language, and greater Chinese population. The Qing established a provincial governor (xunfu) based in Urumchi (Chinese: Dihua), who answered directly to the governor general of Xinjiang, Gansu, and Shaanxi. The Qing divided all of Xinjiang into several subdistricts and established the Chinese-style administration system of zhou and xian.64

However, in reality, the scope and impact of this administrative Sinicization on the ground were fairly limited. For instance, the Qing dismantled the native local administrative institution staffed by the begs with the establishment of the sheng. However, except for high-ranking native officials such as Muslim governors (hakim) who were stripped of their duties, roughly 3,300 lower-level begs were retained in the new Chinese administration. While their title was officially changed from beg officials to the heads of the “community pact” (xiangyue) and “runners” working for the newly established zhou and xian administrations, the Muslim population still continued to address the native officials with old titles such as begs, onbashi, and yuzbashi.65

Likewise, the Qing effort in 1883 of introducing Chinese schools, which used textbooks such as A Thousand Character Classic, Classics of Filial Piety, and Kangxi Emperor’s Sacred Edict annotated in the Turkic language,66 also failed, more or less. Those who were willing to attend the schools were primarily low-rank literate Muslims who worked in the local government as intermediaries (office clerks), called mulla. The Qing initiative to encourage the settlement of Chinese migrants fared no better. The ambitious project of settling 50,000 demobilized soldiers from Gansu and Hunan from the Qing army of reconquest in this region produced little results because many of them soon left, abandoning their land.67 Instead, Xinjiang became more Turkic demographically than before. With some government assistance, poor Muslims migrated in large numbers from the south to the Ili Valley, Tarbaghatai, and Urumchi in the north, as well as the underpopulated lower reaches of the Tarim River and the Lop Nor area in the south, thus transforming the formerly less Turkic area into the home of Turkic Muslims.68

The existence of Russian “treaty ports” with consular jurisdiction further complicated the governance of the Qing Xinjiang by creating interrelated zones of urban enclaves, in which the condition of extraterritoriality and legal pluralism prevailed, thus continuing (or even expanding) the frontier conditions that had existed in Xinjiang since the Qing-Khoqand agreements in 1832. The Andijan merchants, who became Russian subjects due to the Russian conquest of western Turkestan, gained de facto communal autonomy from the Qing government and increased their influence within the local society in Xinjiang (Indians, Afghans, and Kashmiri did the same under British protection).

According to David Brophy, working as the semiformal agents of the Russian consuls, the aqsaqals handled the legal cases concerning the minor issues involving the foreigner-native dispute, in conjunction with their native counterparts (jiaoshe xiangyue), as per common Islamic law. On the other hand, more serious cases were handled by the Russian consuls and the Qing authority jointly, a situation reminiscent of the hybrid courts of the coastal cities.69 Also, increasing numbers of local Muslims acquired Russian citizenship through the mediation of the aqsaqals and the consulates for various reasons, including the tax-exempt privilege attached to being Russian citizens.

New leaders emerged who began to see Xinjiang, which became increasingly Turkic, as a political nation of Turkic people. These leaders were secular elites acquainted with ideas of Islamic secular modernism (jadidism) and Pan-Turkic nationalism (Pan-Turanism). Often coming from a merchant background, they learned of these new secular ideas in the course of their international travels in Europe, Turkey, and Russian Central Asia, especially Kazan in Crimea. Particularly prominent in this movement were Kashgarian merchants and Crimean Tatar merchants who had sojourned in northern Xinjiang such as Ghulja in Ili Valley since the signing of the St. Petersburg Treaty. They focused on establishing new-style Turkic schools in various places in Xinjiang.70 Yet as late as the 1920s, the nation that they promoted was not the Uyghur nation; rather, it was the nation of broad Turkic Central Asian Muslims to which the new intellectuals and merchants saw themselves belonging.71

Discussion of the Literature

For the past several decades, the focus of research into the Qing Xinjiang moved from the study of the nature of the Qing empire in Xinjiang to that of the local society of Xinjiang under Qing rule. In the early 20th century, historians viewed Qing rule in Xinjiang as part of the history of the Chinese managing the Xiyu (Western Region), as the title of one Chinese book, Zhongguo Jingying Xiyushi (History of Chinese management of the Western Regions), indicates.72 In fact, this was the modern reiteration of traditional Chinese scholarship that examines the history of the Qing Xinjiang as the culmination of the early Chinese dynasties’ rule in the region, similar to that of Han and Tang, as is clearly presented in imperially commissioned government work such as Qinding Huangyu Xiyu Tuzhi (1782).

Historians in Japan and the English-speaking world focused on the Inner Asian nature of the Qing empire and considered Xinjiang as an Inner Asian domain of the Qing, ruled according to policies and principles that differed from the latter’s Chinese domain. Haneda Akira’s work on the Qing frontier administration system shows that Xinjiang elites were part of the Qing alliance with the Inner Asian elites against a common adversary, the Chinese.73 The monumental work of Saguchi Tōru provides the first systematic, coherent narrative of Qing rule in Xinjiang, a narrative that is extremely valuable and for the most part still exists.

In 1978, Joseph Fletcher created a powerful synthesis of the Qing empire in Inner Asia, shaping the general framework of understanding about the Qing Xinjiang for decades. First, he considered it not as part of China, but as part of a multiethnic Inner Asian empire built by the Manchu state, in which the Qing respected the autonomy of the native local elites and did not want to disturb their customs. Only after the Qing reconquest in 1877 was the Qing Xinjiang fully integrated into China, primarily through Chinese migration. Fletcher describes this process as the transition from the fall of the multiethnic empire to the rise of the Han Chinese nation in Inner Asia.74

Second, with regard to its 19th-century history, he especially highlights the insurgent nature of its population, calling Xinjiang the most “rebellious” place of all the Inner Asian frontiers of the Qing empire. He attributes this to the Xinjiang being part of the Islamic civilization, which made Qing rule in Xinjiang more or less an impossible proposition. As part of the global Islamic world, Xinjiang could not stay under the non-Muslim infidel rule for long and always wanted to return to being “the abode of Islam.” Its inhabitants lived under the obligation of jihad.75 In this narrative, the Naqshbandī khwajas emerged as the main local actors leading the charge of Islamic resistance against the infidel Qing. Fletcher emphasizes the khwaja’s connection to the global Islamic world, providing an unusually detailed examination of one khwaja family members Yusuf Khwaja, visiting various locations in the Middle East, including Egypt and Baghdad, and participating in the Islamic Turkemens’ fight against Qajars in Iran in 1831.76

Scholars who published in the 1990s and 2000s subtly modified Fletcher’s Inner Asian empire thesis. Through meticulous analysis of the Qing’s imperial policies based on materials from Qing imperial archives, these scholars have examined the Qing empire’s success in bringing together Chinese and Inner Asian elements in one integrated system of multiethnic empire in Xinjiang, although with limitations, rather than focusing only on its Inner Asian nature. For instance, James Millward shows that the Qing ruler, who saw the benefit of the presence of Chinese merchants in Xinjiang as providers of financial and logistical support for the Qing troops stationed there, had encouraged Chinese merchants to come to Xinjiang since the Qing conquest. This intensified the commercial integration between China and Xinjiang, and the increasing presence of Chinese migrants in Xinjiang prompted the Han Chinese people to change their perception of Eastern Turkestan (the area “beyond the pass”) to a part of greater China.77

On a related but different note, Peter Perdue examined the Qing conquest and empire building in Xinjiang within a broader Eurasian context, highlighting the importance of the military competition between two other Eurasian states emerging in the post-Mongolian empire world with which the Qing state shared many characteristics—Russia and Zunghar Mongol—in understanding the Qing imperial expansion. He showed how military concern and urgency drove the Qing state to rely upon Chinese merchants and agrarian migrants (either Han or Hui) to develop resources in Gansu and Xinjiang, thus stimulating commercial development in the Sino-Central Asian borderland.78

Chinese scholars who published during this period relied upon a somewhat different historiographical tradition, but their picture of the Qing empire in Xinjiang resonated with that of the American scholars previously mentioned. Hua Li’s study of agrarian development in Xinjiang demonstrates that the Qing utilized multiethnic elements, including not only Chinese soldiers and civilian migrants but also Turkic oasis Muslims, to bring about unprecedented agrarian developments (kaifa) in Xinjiang.79 In his study of the Xinjiang legal system, Wang Dongping establishes that the Qing administration incorporated both Muslim and Chinese traditions to come up with a unified new multicultural legal system in Xinjiang, while the Qing’s legal authority eventually came to prevail over local Muslim religious courts.80

Most recently, the field has seen the publication of studies that highlight the agency of numerous local actors that had been less thoroughly examined, providing a much more diverse view of the multilayered process of the making and unmaking of Qing Xinjiang. Laura Newby examines the role of Khoqand, which gave rise to the formation of Xinjiang Muslims’ distinctive regional identity, as well as the region’s transformation from a frontier zone into a border territory of China. Rian Thum uncovers the underexplored role that ordinary oasis Muslims and their religious practices, such as shrine worship and interoasis pilgrimage, played in the making of Xinjiang’s regional identity. Kwangmin Kim explores the pivotal part that oasis landlords played in the formation of the Qing Xinjiang, as well as its integration with China and the world economy. What makes this body of research new is the scholars’ utilization of non-Chinese, local primary sources, including Persian and Turkic hagiographies (tazkirah) and other shrine documents (Hamada Masami and Rian Thum); Turkic contract records (Sugawara Jun); and Qing local administration records in Xinjiang written in Manchu (Laura Newby, Onuma Takahiro, and Kwangmin Kim).81

Primary Sources

The major Chinese sources include the military histories (fanglüe) of Qing conquest: the Qinzheng Pingding Shuomo Fanglüe (Military history of the [Kangxi Emperor’s] personal expedition in the desert), which records the Kangxi expedition against the Zunghar ruler Galdan during the late 17th century; the Pingding Zhun’ga’er Fanglüe (Military history of the pacification of the Zunghar Mongols), which records the Qing conquest of Zunghar and Muslim territory in the mid-18th century; and the Qinding Pingding Huijiang Jiaoqin Niyi Fanglüe (Military history of campaigns for terminating and capturing the descendants of the rebels), a record of the Qing pacification of the Jahāngīr khwaja war.

There are a number of imperially commissioned government publications on the local history and geography of Xinjiang: Qinding Huangyu Xiyu Tuzhi (Maps and records of the imperial domain of the Western Regions), a work on 18th-century Xinjiang geography and history; Qinding Xinjiang shilue (Brief records on Xinjiang), a record of early 19th-century Xinjiang geography and the Qing administration in this region; and Xinjiang Tuzhi, (Maps and records on Xinjiang), a detailed record of Xinjiang after the Qing reconquest in 1877.

There are also numerous publications by individual authors, such as Qing military officials stationed in Xinjiang and Chinese elites living in Xinjiang as exiles and convicts. For instance, the Chinese scholar Wu Fengpei published an extensive collection of prominent military officials’ memorials and letters regarding Xinjiang in a three-volume set, Qingdai Xinjiang Xijian Zoudu Huibian (Collection of the rarely seen memorials and letters on Xinjiang during the Qing Period). Zuo Zongtang Quanji (Collection of Zong Zongtang’s writings) provides detailed information about the Qing reconquest of Xinjiang and the shape of the local society in the 1870s. Perhaps the most intriguing source in this category is the Manchu officer Qishiyi’s personal writing, Xiyu Wenjian Lu (What I heard and saw in the Western Regions). It records his observations and hearsay about local situations, traditions, and histories while he was stationed as a lower-rank officer in Xinjiang in the late 18th century. Because these observations and hearsay were based on reports given by local informants, they convey information that is lacking in, or at odds with, imperially sponsored official publications.

Two 2012 publications of collections of Qing archival materials on the Xinjiang add a massive amount of new source material for study. The Qingdai Xinjiang Dang’an Xuanji (Selected archival materials on Xinjiang during the Qing Period) is a 91-volume collection of Chinese archival materials. The Qingdai Xinjiang Manwen Dang’an Huibian (Collections of the Manchu-language archival materials on the Qing Xinjiang) is a 283-volume collection of Manchu-language archival materials.82 These come primarily from Manwen Lufu Zouzhe (Manchu-language memorial copies from the Grand Council reference collection), housed in the First Historical Archives in Beijing, China. The Qing in Xinjiang retained Manchu military governors (Chinese: canzan dachen, banshi dachen), who were stationed in each major oasis; they were required to produce reports about current events and conditions, including criminal investigations and routine administrative procedures including tax collections, appointments of begs to posts in the oasis districts, harvests and fluctuations in grain prices, smuggling and illegal mining activities, local unrest, espionage regarding domestic and foreign development, and diplomatic relations with neighboring Central Asian states.

Local Turki-language materials, both in the original language and translations into Chinese, Japanese, and Russian, are available. The most important work cited in this category is Mullā Mūsa Sāyramī’s Tārīikhi Hämīdī (History of Hämīd), published at the beginning of the 20th century, which was the first local historical narrative of Eastern Turkestan. Numerous hagiographies (tazkirah) of Sufi holy men who migrated to the region in the 15th and 16th centuries constitute another important set of primary sources. The most prominent source in this category is Tazkira-i-Khwajagan (The hagiography of Khwajas). Published in the late 18th century under Qing rule, it provides an account of the period of Zunghar rule and the Qing conquest from the local perspective of the Ishāqi khwajas and their sympathizers. Although the events in the hagiographies are poorly dated and their content lacks historical accuracy, these works are invaluable not only to the study of Sufism in Xinjiang, but also the oasis society in general, due to information available in the hagiographies about the Sufis and the oasis societies.

There are also local Turki contract documents. Currently available primarily in Chinese translation [Wang Shouli and Li Jinxin, Xinjiang Weiwu’er Zu Qiyue Wenshu Ziliao Xuanbian (Selected editions of the contract documents of Xinjiang Uyghurs)], these include deeds for land transactions, rental and labor contracts, and records of religious donations; thus, they show the social, economic, and religious relations at work within the oasis society in the 18th and 19th centuries.83 Japanese scholar Sugawara Jun collected additional contract documents from each oasis in the 1990s; they are now available in the Xinjiang University Library.

The European-language sources for the study of Qing Xinjiang include works by Valikhanov (Wali Khan, 1835–1865) on the history of Eastern Turkestan. A Russian military officer, he visited the area personally to collect information on its history and geography. Although he was serving in the Russian military and wrote primarily in Russian at the time of his visits, his narrative of Eastern Turkestani history during the Qing rule can be read as a local or Central Asian narrative at the very least.84 Another important European source was left by the British diplomat sent to negotiate commercial trade with Ya’kūb Beg in 1873—Thomas Douglas Forsyth’s Report of a Mission to Yarkund in 1873, Under Command of Sir T. D. Forsyth, with Historical and Geographical Information Regarding the Possessions of the Ameer of Yarkund.85 Not only does this work include historical oral records collected by the mission in Kashgar and Yarkand, but it also includes detailed eyewitness accounts of market and demographic conditions and a detailed geographical survey of the oasis area.

Further Reading

Brophy, David. Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russia-China Frontier. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Fletcher, Joseph. “Ch’ing Inner Asia c. 1800.” In The Cambridge History of China, v.10, pt. Edited by John K. Fairbank, 35–106. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978.Find this resource:

Fletcher, Joseph. “The Heyday of the Ch’ing Order in Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Tibet.” In The Cambridge History of China, v.10, pt.1. Edited by John K. Fairbank, 351–408. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978.Find this resource:

Fletcher, Joseph. Studies on Chinese and Islamic Inner Asia. Edited by Beatrice Forbes Manz. Aldershot, Hampshire, UK and Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1995.Find this resource:

Hamada Masami. “‘Shio no gimu’ to ‘Seisen’ no aidade” (Between the “Duty of Salt” and “Holy War”). Tōyōshi Kenkyū (Research on Oriental history) 52, no. 2 (1993): 122–148.Find this resource:

Hori Sunao. “Shindai Kaikyō no suiri kangai: 19–20 seiki no Yaarukanto wo chūshin to shite” (Irrigation in the Muslim domain during the Qing Period: Case of Yarkand in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries). Journal of Otemae College 14 (1980): 72–99.Find this resource:

Kataoka, Kazutada. Shincho Shinkyo Tochi Kenkyu (Study on the Qing rule of Xinjiang). Tokyo: Yuzankaku, 1991.Find this resource:

Khodzhaev, Ablat, and B. A. Ahmedov. Tsinskaia Imperiia I Vostochnyi Turkestan v XVIII v.: Iz Istorii Mezhdunarodnykh Otnoshenii v Tsentralnoi Azii (The Qing Empire and Eastern Turkestan in the eighteenth century: History of international relations in Central Asia). Tashkent: Izd-vo Fan Uzbekskoi SSR, 1991.Find this resource:

Kim, Hodong. Holy War in China: The Muslim Rebellion and State in Chinese Central Asia, 1864–1877. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Kim, Kwangmin. Borderland Capitalism: Turkestan Produce, Qing Silver, and the Birth of an Eastern Market. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Lattimore, Owen. Pivot of Asia: Sinkiang and the Inner Asian Frontiers of China and Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1950.Find this resource:

Hua, Li. Qingdai Xinjiang nongye kaifa shi (History of the development of agriculture in Xinjiang during the Qing Period). Ha’erbin, China: Heilongjiang jiaoyu chubanshe, 1995.Find this resource:

Millward, James A. Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759–1864. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Millward, James A. Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Newby, Laura J. The Empire and the Khanate: A Political History of Qing Relations with Khoqand, c. 1760–1860. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2005.Find this resource:

Pan, Zhiping. Zhongya Haohanguo Yu Qingdai Xinjiang (Khoqand in Central Asia and Xinjiang during the Qing Period). Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1991.Find this resource:

Papas, Alexandre. Sou sme et Politique Entre Chine, Tibet, et Turkestan: Étude Sur Les Khwajas Naqshbandis Du Turkestan Oriental [Sufism and the Politics between China, Tibet, and Turkestan: Study of Naqshbandi Khwajas in Eastern Turkestan]. Paris: Librarie d’Amérique et d’Orient, Jean Maisonneuve successeur, 2005.Find this resource:

Perdue, Peter C. China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Rossabi, Morris. “The ‘Decline ’of the Central Asian Caravan Trade.” In The Rise of the Merchant Empires: Long-Distance Trade in the Early Modern World. Edited by James D Tracy. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.Find this resource:

Thum, Rian. The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Togan, Isenbike. “Islam in a Chinese Society: The Khojas of Eastern Turkestan.” In Muslims in Central Asia: Expressions of Identity and Change. Edited by Jo-Ann Gross, 134–150. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Saguchi, Tōru. Jūhachi-jūkyū-seiki Higashi Torukisutan shakaishi kenkyū [Study on the Eastern Turkestan Society during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries]. Tōkyō: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 1963.Find this resource:

Wang, Dongping. Qingdai Huijiang Falü Zhidu Yanjiu, 1759–1884 Nian [Study of the legal system of the Muslim domain, 1759–1884. Ha’erbin, China: Heilongjiang jiaoyu chubanshe, 2003.Find this resource:


(1.) Peter C. Perdue, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005), 94–299.

(2.) By “oasis Muslims,” I refer to Turkic Muslims who resided in the oases located around Tarim Basin and the Turkic Muslims who lived in northern Xinjiang, but whose ancestry originated from there. These people are now called Uyghur, following the Soviet Union’s and China’s adoption of the term in the early 20th century. However, historically, they have been identified by various other names, including Huizi, East Turkestanis, and Altishahris. According to Rian Thum, locals employed names such as Musulman (“Muslim”), Turki, yerlik (“local”), and, rarely, Altishahrlik (“person of six cities”) to identify the oasis population collectively. Among these, the term Musulmān was the most common to refer to the Xinjiang oasis Muslims before the 1930s [Rian Thum, “Modular History: Identity Maintenance Before Uyghur Nationalism,” Journal of Asian Studies 71, no. 3 (August 2012): 629–630]. The Qing records used names such as huizi (Muslims), perhaps reflecting the local populations’ self identification as “Musulmān,” or “chuantou” (Turbans), distinguishing them from the Chinese Muslim who migrated to Xinjiang, identified as “hanhui” in Qing records. East Turkestanis (Eastern Turkestanis) is a politically charged term, as it was associated with two local independent movements that aimed to establish an “Eastern Turkestan Republic” in the 1930s and 1940s. This article uses either oasis Muslims or native Muslims, in order to avoid the anachronistic application of the 20th-century national term Uyghurs to the earlier period, when such nationalist consciousness had yet to form, and also to reflect the 18th-century locals’ identification of themselves as “Musulmān.”

(3.) Muhammad Sadiq Kashghari, The History of the Khojas of Eastern-Turkistan Summarised from the Tazkira-I-Khwajagan of Muhammad Sadiq Kashghar, eds. Robert Shaw and Ney Elias (Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1897), 37; and Isenbike Togan, “Islam in a Chinese Society: The Khojas of Eastern Turkestan,” in Muslims in Central Asia: Expressions of Identity and Change, ed. Jo-Ann Gross, 134–150 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992).

(4.) Hodong Kim, Holy War in China: The Muslim Rebellion and State in Chinese Central Asia, 1864–1877 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004), 7–10.

(5.) Saguchi Toru, Juhachi-jukyu-seiki Higashi Torukisutan shakaishi kenkyu (Study on the Eastern Turkestan society during the eighteenth and nineteenth century) (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1963), 56; Togan, “Islam in a Chinese Society,” 136; Hodong Kim, Holy War in China, 11–12; and Shimada Johei, “Hoja jidai no Beku dachi” [The Begs during the period of the Khoja (rule)], Toho Gaku [Journal of Oriental Studies] 3 (1952): 1–9.

(6.) Isenbike Togan, “Difference in Ideology and Practice: The Case of the Black and White Mountain Factions,” Journal of the History of Sufism 3 (2001): 26–27. Indeed, some evidence suggests such an interrelation between Ishāqis and beg interests. For instance, the family of Mīrzā Hādī Beg (Manchu: Ūdui; Chinese: Edui), the most influential among the second group, must have been a supporter of the Ishāqis. His son’s wife reportedly persuaded an author to write the Tazkira-i-Khwajagan, a collective hagiography of Ishāqi khwajas (Muhammad Sadiq, The History of the Khojas of Eastern-Turkistan, iii).

(7.) On Hami and Turfan during the Ming Period (1368–1644), see Morris Rossabi, “Ming China’s Relations with Hami and Central Asia, 1404–1513: A Reexamination of Traditional Chinese Foreign Policy” (PhD dissertation, Columbia University, 1970); Rossabi, “Ming China and Turfan, 1406–1517,” Central Asiatic Journal 16, no. 3 (1972): 206–225; Hori Sunao, “Mindai no Turufan ni tsuite” (Turfan during the Ming Period), Machikaneyama Ronso: Shigaku hen (Machikaneyama collection of articles: History edition) 8 (1975): 13–37. For limitations and inconsistency of the doctrine of “tribute” relations between Central Asia and China during the Ming Period, see Joseph Fletcher, “China and Central Asia, 1368–1884,” in The Chinese World Order, eds. John King Fairbank and Ta-tuan Chen, 206–224 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968).

(8.) Hua Li, Qingdai Xinjiang nongye kaifa shi [History of the development of agriculture in Xinjiang during the Qing Period] (Ha’erbin, China: Heilongjiang jiaoyu chubanshe, 1995), 46–47.

(9.) Benjamin Samuel Levey, “Jungar Refugees and the Making of Empire on Qing China’s Kazakh Frontier, 1759–1773” (PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 2014), 77.

(10.) Kwangmin Kim, Borderland Capitalism: Turkestan Produce, Qing Silver, and the Birth of an Eastern Market (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016), 50, Table 2.1. To be exact, 26,787 is the number of the Qing troops recorded in 1774. 44,460 is the number recorded in1821. There are also some other estimates. Zeng Wenwu estimated the number as 19000–23000 throughout the Qing rule. (Zeng Wenwu, Zhongguo Jingying Xiyushi [History of Chinese administration of the Western Regions] (Shanghai: Shangwuyin shuguan, 1936), 266). On the other hand, James Millward estimated the troop number as 39000–42000 before 1826. The Qing added 5,500 troops in 1828. Number of Qing troops, (James A. Millward, Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759–1864 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), 79).

(11.) Millward, Beyond the Pass, 58.

(12.) Millward, Beyond the Pass, 61.

(13.) Millward, Beyond the Pass, 66, 69.

(14.) Millward, Beyond the Pass, 51.

(15.) Kim, Holy War in China, 52.

(16.) During the period of the Qing, Ili was estimated to have 50,000–60,000 Taranchi residents, as well as 60,000 Chinese Muslims (Tungan). Kim, Holy War in China, 52.

(17.) Hua, Qingdai Xinjiang nongye kaifa shi, 133–134.

(18.) Joseph Fletcher, “Ch’ing Inner Asia c.1800,”in The Cambridge History of China, v. 10, pt. 1 (Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 78. The only exception to the rule was the eastern oases of Hami and Turfan. The rulers of Hami and Turfan received from the Qing the position of jasak, master of his own “tribal” banner, a position usually reserved for the Mongol allies of the Qing, as reward for their early submission to the Qing and contribution to the Qing conquest of Xinjiang, 1754–1759. Thus, they were allowed to control their own domain autonomously in much the same fashion as Mongol nobles. Joseph Fletcher, “Ch’ing Inner Asia c. 1800,” 75.

(19.) Regarding the begs’ work as the de facto revenue contractors, see Kim, Borderland Capitalism, 65–74. The person who first came up with this description of begs’ rule as “indirect rule” was British diplomat George Macartney (1867–1945). See George Macartney, Eastern Turkestan: The Chinese as Rulers over an Alien Race (London: Central Asian Society, 1909).

(20.) Hodong Kim, “Jungangashiaŭi Musŭllim Sŏngjasungbae—T’urŭp’anŭi Alp’ŭ At’a Sungbae Rŭl Jungshimŭro [The cult of saints in Eastern Turkestan—The case of Alp Ata in Turfan],” Chindan Hakpo 74 (1992): 147–177.

(21.) Hamada Masami, “‘Shio no gimu’ to ‘seisen’ no aidade” (Between the “duty of salt” and “holy war”), Toyoshi Kenkyu (Research on Oriental history) 52, no. 2 (1993): 135–138. Mullā Mūsa Sayrāmī, from whom Hamada drew the concept of “duty of salt,” identified the specific content of the “salt,” or salaries, provided by the Qing Emperor, as land (yär, zimin), water (su), and servants or “household people” (öylük adäm) (Mullā Mūsa Sayrāmī, Tārīkhi Hämīdī. [Modern Uyghur edition; trans. Enver Baytur], Beijing: Millätlär näshriyäti, 1986, 183).

(22.) There were two types of huangdi. One was the land that belonged to the original taxable land, but later became waste again. (Xinjiang Tuzhi, vol. 65, “huangdi”). This type of land was also called guanhuang (government wild land) (for instance in Cao Zhenyong, Pingding Huijiangjiaoqin niyifanglue [Military history of suppression and capture of Rebel Descendent in Muslim Domain] (Beijing, 1829), vol. 55, DG7/12/guiyou, Wulong’a’s memorial). Another type of wild land was called xinhuang (new wildland). This land was the land, which had never been under cultivation.

(23.) Kim, Borderland Capitalism, 58–61.

(24.) Wu Yuanfeng, “Qing Qianlong Nianjian Xinjiang Xin Pu’er Qian de Zhuzao Liutong Ji Qi Zuoyong [Minting and circulation of the new Pul coins during the Qianlong Period and its effects].” Xiyu Yanjiu [Research on Western Regions], no. 1 (1997): 49.

(25.) Some unidentified portion of it was in turn exported beyond the Qing border into Central and South Asia. Millward, Beyond the Pass, 61–63.

(26.) Millward, Beyond the Pass, 45–46; Wang Xi, “Lun Qianlong shiqi Yili Hasake maoyi majia, sichoujia yu maoyi bizhi wenti [The price of horse and silk at the Yili’s trade with Kazakh and the rate of exchange],” Minzu yanjiu 4 (1992), 48–58; and Wang, “Qianlong shiqi Ka-shi-ga-er de guanfang sichou maoyi [Official silk trade in Kashgar during the Qianlong Period],” in Qingdai quyu shehui jingji yanjiu [Studies on regional society and economy during the Qing Period], ed. Ye Xian’en (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1992).

(27.) Hua, Qingdai Xinjiang nongye kaifa shi, 290–291.

(28.) Kim, Borderland Capitalism, 201–202, Appendices A-1 and A-2.

(29.) Millward, Beyond the Pass, 249–250.

(30.) Laura J. Newby, “‘Us and Them’ in 18th- and 19th-Century Xinjiang,” in Situating the Uyghurs Between China and Central Asia (Aldershot, Hampshire, UK; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007), 22–27.

(31.) For a detailed study of the subject, see Rian Thum, The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

(32.) Wu Fengpei, Qingdai Xinjiang xijian zoudu huibian: Daoguang chao juan (Wulumuqi: Xinjiang renmin chubanshe, 1996), doc.9, DG8/5/6, Nayancheng, Yang Fang, and Wulong’a’s memorial.

(33.) Joseph Fletcher, “The Heyday of the Ch’ing Order in Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Tibet,” in The Cambridge History of China, v. 10, pt. 1 (Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 361, 407.

(34.) Saguchi, Juhachi-jukyu-seiki Higashi Torukisutan shakaishi kenkyu, 386–392; and Laura Newby, The Empire and the Khanate: A Political History of Qing Relations with Khoqand, c. 1760–1860 (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2005), 68–70.

(35.) Newby, The Empire and the Khanate, 91–92.

(36.) Newby, The Empire and the Khanate, 73–84.

(37.) For detailed information about this subject, see Kim, Borderland Capitalism, 93–96.

(38.) Fletcher, “Ch’ing Inner Asia c.1800,” 87.

(39.) Chokan Chingisovich (Ch. Ch.) Valikhanov, “O sostoianii Altyshara ili shesti vostochnykh grodov Kitaĭskoĭiprovintsii Nan-lu (Maloĭ Bukharii), v. 1858–59 godakh [Condition of the Altishar or the six Eastern cities of Chinese province, Nanlu (Small Bukhara), 1858–1859],” in Izbrannye Proiz- vedeniia. (Moscow: Izd-vo “Nauka,” Glav. red. vostochnoĭ lit-ry), 1986, 149.

(40.) Fletcher, “The Heyday of the Ch’ing Order in Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Tibet,” 363; Mullā Mūsa Sayrāmī, Tārīkhi Hämīdī [History of Hämīd] (modern Uyghur ed.), trans. Enver Baytur (Beijing: Millätlär näshriyäti, 1986), 149.

(41.) Wu Fengpei, Qingdai Xinjiang xijian zoudu huibian: Daoguang chao juan (Wulumuqi: Xinjiang renmin chubanshe, 1996), doc. 203, DG 27/12/9, Saying’a’s memorial.

(42.) Valikhanov, “O sostoianii Altyshara,” 156–157; and Thomas Douglas Forsyth, Report of a Mission to Yarkund in 1873, Under Command of Sir T. D. Forsyth, with Historical and Geographical Information Regarding the Possessions of the Ameer of Yarkund (Calcutta: Foreign Department Press, 1875), 185.

(43.) Fletcher, “The Heyday of the Ch’ing Order in Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Tibet,” 378; and Newby, The Empire and the Khanate, 195–196, 199.

(44.) Fletcher, “The Heyday of the Ch’ing Order in Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Tibet,” 378–379.

(45.) Newby, The Empire and the Khanate, 192.

(46.) Pär Cassel, Grounds of Judgment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 9, 45–46.

(47.) Millward, Beyond the Pass, 235–238.

(48.) Kim, Holy War in China, 39–40, 62.

(49.) Kim, Holy War in China, 181.

(50.) Kim, Holy War in China, xvi.

(51.) Kim, Holy War in China, 181.

(52.) Kim, Holy War in China, 107. In the list of the currently known twenty-four local governors (Hakims) compiled by Hodong Kim, only four were Kashgarians.

(53.) Kim, Holy War in China, 183–184.

(54.) Kim, Holy War in China, 178.

(55.) Kim, Holy War in China, 170–171.

(56.) Kim, Holy War in China, 167, 173–177.

(57.) Kim, Holy War in China, 185.

(58.) The Russians restored major irrigation canals, built a hospital, and established bilingual schools and other cultural institutions, including a Russian Orthodox church. Kim, Holy War in China, 133; and Kataoka Kazutada, Shincho Shinkyo Tochi Kenkyu [Study on the Qing rule of Xinjiang] (Tokyo: Yuzankaku, 1991), 151–155.

(59.) Xinjiang Tuzhi, vol. 55, “Jiaoshe zhi 3”; and Alexei D. Voskresenskiĭ, The Sino-Russian St. Petersburg Treaty of 1881, 122.

(60.) Xinjiang Tuzhi, vol. 56, “Jiaoshe zhi 4.”

(61.) Xinjiang Tuzhi, vol. 57, “Jiaoshe zhi 5.”

(62.) James A. Millward, Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 157.

(63.) Kataoka, Shincho Shinkyo Tochi Kenkyu, 214–219.

(64.) However, this did not mean the end of the Qing’s military occupation of Xinjiang, and they did not eliminate the position of Ili General. While they reduced the overall numbers of troops stationed in Xinjiang to just over 30,000, compared to some 40,000 in the mid-Qing period, the number of troops permanently stationed in the Tarim Basin increased from the level of the prereconquest era. The redistribution of the troops seemed to signal that the objective of the Qing military policy was to suppress the local Muslim population to prevent another local crisis, which would open the door to additional foreign intervention.

(65.) Millward, Eurasian Crossroads, 140–141.

(66.) Kataoka, Shincho Shinkyo Tochi Kenkyu, 203.

(67.) Millward, Eurasian Crossroads, 139.

(68.) Millward, Eurasian Crossroads, 151–152.

(69.) David Brophy, Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russia–China Frontier (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), 74–82.

(70.) David Brophy, Uyghur Nation, 171–175.

(71.) David Brophy, Uyghur Nation, 176–177. For a detailed examination of the rise of the Uyghur nationalism, see Brophy, Uyghur Nation.

(72.) Zeng Wenwu, Zhongguo Jingying Xiyushi (History of Chinese management of the Western Regions) (Shanghai: Shangwuyin shuguan, 1936).

(73.) Haneda Akira. “Shincho no Kaibu tochi seisaku” [Qing policy of rule over Muslim tribes]. In Iminzoku No Shina Tochi Kenkyu: Shincho No Henkyo Tochi Seisaku [Study on foreign rule over China: Qing Dynasty's frontier policy], ed. Toa Kenkyujo, 101–213. (Tokyo: Shibundo, 1944.)

(74.) Fletcher, “Ch’ing Inner Asia c.1800,” 35–37; Fletcher, “The Heyday of the Ch’ing Order in Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Tibet,” 353.

(75.) Fletcher, “The Heyday of the Ch’ing Order in Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Tibet,” 407.

(76.) Fletcher, “Ch’ing Inner Asia c.1800,” 88–89.

(77.) Millward, Beyond the Pass.

(78.) Perdue, China Marches West.

(79.) Hua, Qingdai Xinjiang nongye kaifa shi.

(80.) Wang Dongping, Qingdai Huijiang Falü Zhidu Yanjiu, 1759–1884 Nian (Study of the legal system of the Muslim domain, 1759–1884) (Ha’erbin, China: Heilongjiang jiaoyu chubanshe, 2003).

(81.) Hamada Masami, Higashi Torukisutan Chagataigo Seija Densetsu No Kenkyū (Chagatai-language hagiography of Muslim saints of Eastern Turkestan) (Kyōto Daigaku Daigakuin Bungaku Kenkyū-ka, 2006); Thum, The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History; Sugawara Jun, “Tradition and Adoption: Elements and Composition of Land-Related Contractual Documents in Provincial Xinjiang (1884–1955),” in Studies on Xinjiang Historical Sources in 17–20th Centuries, ed. Shinmen Yasushi, Sugawara Sen, and James A. Millward, 120–139 (Tokyo: Toyo Bunko, 2010); Newby, The Empire and the Khanate; and Kim, Borderland Capitalism.

(82.) Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu Dang’anju and Zhongguo bianjiang shidi yanjiu zhongxin, eds., Qingdai Xinjiang Dang’an Xuanji. 91 vols. (Guilin, China: Guangxi shifan daxue chubanshe, 2012); Zhongguo di 1 lishi dang’an’guan and Zhongguo bianjiang shidi yanjiu zhongxin, eds. Qingdai Xinjiang Manwen dangan huibian (Collections of the Manchu-language archival materials on the Qing Xinjiang), 283 vols. (Guilin, China: Guangxi shifan daxue chubanshe, 2012).

(83.) Wang Shouli and Jinxin Li. Xinjiang Weiwu’er Zu Qiyue Wenshu Ziliao Xuanbian [Selected editions of the contract documents of Xinjiang Uyghurs] (Urumqi, China: Xinjiang shehui kexueyuan zongjiaosuo, 1990).

(84.) Chokan Chingisovich (Ch. Ch.) Valikhanov. Sobranie sochineniĬ v Pi͡ati Tomakh (Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan: Glav. red. KazakhskoĬ Sov. Ėnt͡siklopedii, 1984). For a selected English translation of the work, see Chokan Chingisovich (Ch. Ch.) Valikhanov, John Michell, Robert Michell, and Mikhail Ivanovich Venyukov. The Russians in Central Asia: Their Occupation of the Kirghiz Steppe and the Line of the Syr-Daria: Their Political Relations with Khiva, Bokhara, and Kokan: Also Descriptions of Chinese Turkestan and Dzungaria; by Capt. Valikhanof, M. Veniukof, and [others] (London: E. Stanford, 1865).

(85.) Thomas Douglas Forsyth, Report of a Mission to Yarkund in 1873.