Chinese Muslims in the Second Sino-Japanese War
Chinese Muslims in the Second Sino-Japanese War were courted by both Chinese and Japanese generals, but tended to fight against the Japanese, with or without the support of higher echelons of other Chinese factions. Japan attempted to reach out to ethnic minorities to rally to their side during the Second Sino-Japanese War, but only succeeded with certain Manchu, Mongol, Tibetan, and Uyghur elements.
Japanese atrocities committed against Hui Muslims
During the Second Sino-Japanese war the Japanese followed what has been referred to as a "killing policy" and destroyed many mosques. According to Wan Lei, "Statistics showed that the Japanese destroyed 220 mosques and killed countless Hui people by April 1941." After the Rape of Nanking mosques in Nanjing were found to be filled with dead bodies.They also followed a policy of economic oppression which involved the destruction of mosques and Hui communities and made many Hui jobless and homeless. Another policy was one of deliberate humilation. This included soldiers smearing mosques with pork fat, forcing Hui to butcher pigs to feed the soldiers, and forcing girls to supposedly train as geishas and singers but in fact made them serve as sex slaves. Hui cemeteries were destroyed for military reasons. Many Hui fought in the war against Japan.
Muslim Jihad against Japan
Their attempt to get the Muslim Hui people on their side failed, as many Chinese generals such as Bai Chongxi, Ma Hongbin, Ma Hongkui, and Ma Bufang were Hui and fought against the Japanese army. The Japanese attempted to approach Ma Bufang but were unsuccessful in making any agreement with him. Ma Bufang ended up supporting the anti-Japanese Imam Hu Songshan, who prayed for the destruction of the Japanese. Ma became chairman (governor) of Qinghai in 1938 and commanded a group army. He was appointed because of his anti-Japanese inclinations, and was such an obstruction to Japanese agents trying to contact the Tibetans that he was called an "adversary" by a Japanese agent.
Even before the war began, the Chinese Muslim General Ma Zhanshan was fighting and severely mauling the Japanese army in Manchuria. The Japanese officer Doihara Kenji approached him in an attempt to persuade him to defect. He pretended to defect to the Japanese, then used the money they gave him to rebuild his army and fought them again, leading a guerilla campaign in Suiyuan. The Japanese themselves noted that Chiang Kai-shek relied upon Muslim generals like Ma Zhanshan and Bai Chongxi during the war.
British telegrams from British India in 1937 said that Tungans (Hui people, a.k.a. Chinese speaking Muslims) like Ma Zhongying and Ma Hushan had reached an agreement with the Soviets whom they had fought before; as the Japanese had begun full scale warfare with China, the Tungans, led by Ma Zhongying and Ma Hushan would help Chinese forces battle Japan. The Soviets would release Ma Zhongying, and he and Ma Hushan would return to Gansu. Sven Hedin wrote that Ma Hushan would "certainly obey the summons" to join the Chinese side against Japan in the war.
The Japanese planned to invade Ningxia from Suiyuan in 1939 and create a Hui puppet state. The next year, the Japanese were defeated by the Kuomintang Muslim General Ma Hongbin, which caused the plan to collapse. Ma Hongbin's Hui Muslim troops launched further attacks against Japan in the Battle of West Suiyuan. Muslim Generals Ma Hongkui and Ma Hongbin defended west Suiyuan, especially in the Battle of Wuyuan in 1940. Ma Hongbin commanded the 81st Corps and suffered heavy casualties, but eventually repulsed the Japanese and defeated them.
The Japanese attempted to justify their invasion to the Muslim Chinese with promises of liberation and self-determination. Chinese Muslims rejected this, and Jihad (Islamic word for struggle) was declared to be obligatory and sacred for all Chinese Muslims against Japan. The Yuehua, a Chinese Muslim publication, quoted the Qur'an and Hadith to justify submitting to Chiang Kai-Shek as the leader of China, and as justification for Jihad in the war against Japan. Xue Wenbo, a Muslim Hui Chengda School member wrote the: "Song of the Hui with an anti-Japanese determination". A Chinese Muslim Imam, Hu Songshan, was instrumental in his support of the war. When Japan invaded China in 1937, Hu Songshan ordered that the Chinese Flag be saluted during morning prayer, along with an exhortation to nationalism. He invoked Qur'anic authority to urge sacrifice against Japan. A prayer was written by him in Arabic and Chinese which prayed for the defeat of the Japanese and support of the Kuomintang Chinese government. Hu Songshan also ordered that all Imams in Ningxia preach Chinese nationalism. The Muslim General Ma Hongkui assisted him in this order, making nationalism required at every mosque. Hu Songshan led the Ikhwan, the Chinese Muslim Brotherhood, which became a Chinese nationalist, patriotic organization, stressing education and independence of the individual. Ma Hushan, a Chinese Muslim General of the 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army), spread anti-Japanese propaganda in Xinjiang and pledged his support to the Kuomintang. Westerners reported that the Tungans (Chinese Muslims) were anti-Japanese, and under their rule, areas were covered with "most of the stock anti-Japanese slogans from China proper", while Ma made "Resistance to Japanese Imperialism" part of his governing doctrine. The China Islamic Association issued "A message to all Muslims in China from the Chinese Islamic Association for National Salvation" during Ramadan 1940.
We have to implement the teaching "the love of the fatherland is an article of faith" by Muhammad and to inherit the Hui's glorious history in China. In addition, let us reinforce our unity and participate in the twice more difficult task of supporting a defensive war and promoting religion.... We hope that ahongs [imams] and the elite will initiate a movement of prayer during Ramadan and implement group prayer to support our intimate feeling toward Islam. A sincere unity of Muslims should be developed to contribute power towards the expulsion of Japan.
During the war against Japan, the Imams supported Muslim resistance in battle, calling for Muslims to participate in the Jihad against Japan, and becoming a shaheed (Islamic term for martyr). Later in the war, Ma Bufang sent cavalry divisions led by General Ma Biao which were composed of Hui, Dongxiang Mongols, Salars, all of them Muslims, Han, and Tibetans (Buddhists), to fight Japan. Ma Hongkui seized the city of Dingyuanying in Suiyuan and arrested the Mongol prince Darijaya in 1938, because Doihara Kenji, a Japanese officer of the Kwantung Army, visited the prince. Darijaya was exiled to Lanzhou until 1944. At the Battle of Wuyuan, the Hui Muslim cavalry led by Ma Hongbin and Ma Buqing defeated the Japanese troops. Ma Hongbin was also involved in the offensive against the Japanese at the Battle of West Suiyuan.
The Muslim Generals Ma Hongkui and Ma Bufang protected Lanzhou with their cavalry troops, and put up resistance, the Japanese never captured Lanzhou during the war. Ma Bufang sent the Muslim Brigade commander Major General Ma Buluan (马步銮), who led the 1st Regiment of the nationalist Reorganized 8th Cavalry Brigade (originally known as the 1st Cavalry Division and later renamed the 8th Cavalry Division during the war). The brigade was stationed in eastern Henan, and fought a number of battles against the Japanese invaders who grew to fear the nationalist cavalry unit, calling it "Ma's Islamic Division".
The Qinghai Chinese, Salar, Chinese Muslim, Dongxiang, and Tibetan troops that Ma Bufang sent fought to the death against the Imperial Japanese Army, or committed suicide instead of surrendering. When they defeated the Japanese, the Muslim troops killed all except for a few prisoners to send back to Qinghai to prove that they were victorious. In September 1940, when the Japanese made an offensive against the Muslim Qinghai troops, the Muslims ambushed them, forcing the Japanese to retreat.
After World War II, the unit returned to Qinghai and was subsequently reorganized as the 1st Regiment of the Reorganized 8th Cavalry Brigade of the nationalist Reorganized 82nd Division.
Chiang Kai-Shek also suspected that the Tibetans were collaborating with the Japanese. Under orders from the Kuomintang government, Ma Bufang repaired the Yushu airport to prevent Tibetan separatists from formally declaring de jure independence. Chiang also ordered Ma Bufang to put his Muslim soldiers on alert for entry into Tibet in 1942. Ma Bufang complied, and moved several thousand troops to the border with Tibet. Chiang also threatened the Tibetans with bombing if they did not comply.
Ma Bufang was openly hostile towards the Tibetan Ngolok peoples. His Muslim troops launched what David S. G. Goodman calls "a campaign of ethnic cleansing" in Tibetan Ngolok areas in Qinghai during the war, destroying their Tibetan Buddhist temples.
During the war, the American Asiatic Association published an entry in the text Asia: journal of the American Asiatic Association, Volume 40, concerning the problem of whether Chinese Muslims were Chinese or a separate "ethnic minority". It addressed the issue of whether all Muslims in China were united into one race. It came to the conclusion that the Japanese military spokesman was the only person who was propagating the false assertion that "Chinese Mohammedans" had "racial unity". This was disproven when it became known that Muslims in China were composed of a multitude of races, separate from each other as were the "Germans and English", such as the Mongol Hui of Hezhou, Salar Hui of Qinghai, Chan Tou Hui of Turkistan, and then Chinese Muslims. The Japanese were trying to spread the false claim that Chinese Muslims were one race, in order to propagate the claim that they should be separated from China into an "independent political organization".
The Chinese Kuomintang also sought the Khampas' help in defending Sichuan from Japan, since the temporary capital was located there. A Khampa member of the Mongolian Tibetan Academy was Han Jiaxiang.
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