History of Xinjiang
The recorded history of the area now known as Xinjiang dates to the 2nd millennium BC. There have been many empires, primarily Han Chinese, Turkic, and Mongolic, that have ruled over the region, including the Yuezhi, Xiongnu Empire, Han Dynasty, Sixteen Kingdoms of the Jin Dynasty (Former Liang, Former Qin, Later Liang, and Western Liáng), Tang Dynasty, Uyghur Khaganate, Kara-Khanid Khanate, Mongol Empire (Yuan Dynasty), Yarkent Khanate, Mongolic Dzungar Khanate, and Manchu Qing Dynasty. Xinjiang was previously known as "Xiyu" (西域), under the Han Dynasty, which drove the Xiongnu empire out of the region in 60 BCE in an effort to secure the profitable Silk Road, but was renamed Xinjiang (新疆, meaning "new frontier") when the region was conquered by the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty in 1759. Xinjiang is now a part of the People's Republic of China, having been so since its founding year of 1949.
- 1 The name
- 2 Early Caucasian Inhabitants
- 3 Struggle between Xiongnu and Han China
- 4 A succession of peoples
- 5 Gokturk Empire
- 6 Tang Dynasty
- 7 Uyghur Empire
- 8 Uyghur State and Kara-Khanid Khanate
- 9 Kara-Khitan Khanate
- 10 Chagatai Khanate
- 11 Moghulistan
- 12 State of Yarkand
- 13 The Khojah Kingdom
- 14 The Qing Empire
- 15 Uyghur Rebellions and Qing Reconquest
- 16 20th Century and after the Qing Dynasty
- 17 Continued tensions
- 18 Notes
- 19 References
- 20 External links
In ancient China, the area was known as "Xiyu" or "Western Regions", a name that became prevalent in Chinese records after the Han Dynasty took control of the region. For the Uyghurs, the region is "Sharqi Turkistan" (literally "Eastern Land of the Turks" in English). The region was referred to as part of "Turkistan" by the 13th century Venetian traveler Marco Polo. After the Qing Dynasty reconquered this region, the area was designated Xinjiang, which was used to refer to any area of former a Chinese empire that had been previously lost but was regained by the Qing, but eventually meant this northwestern Xinjiang alone. In the Uyghur language, Xinjiang is considered more center than northwestern in orientation.
Early Caucasian Inhabitants
According to J. P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair, the Chinese describe the existence of "white people with long hair" or the Bai people in the Shan Hai Jing, who lived beyond their northwestern border.
The well preserved Tarim mummies with Caucasoid features, often with reddish or blond hair, today displayed at the Ürümqi Museum and dated to the 2nd millennium BC, have been found in the same area of the Tarim Basin. Various nomadic tribes, such as the Yuezhi were probably part of the migration of Indo-European speakers who were settled in eastern Central Asia (possibly as far as Gansu) at that time. The Ordos culture in northern China east of the Yuezhi, is another example, yet skeletal remains from the Ordos culture found have been predominantly Mongoloid.
The first reference to the nomadic Yuezhi was in 645 BC by Guan Zhong in his Guanzi 管子 (Guanzi Essays: 73: 78: 80: 81). He described the Yuzhi 禺氏, or Niuzhi 牛氏, as a people from the north-west who supplied jade to the Chinese from the nearby mountains of Yuzhi 禺氏 at Gansu. The supply of jade from the Tarim Basin from ancient times is well documented archaeologically: "It is well known that ancient Chinese rulers had a strong attachment to jade. All of the jade items excavated from the tomb of Fuhao of the Shang dynasty, more than 750 pieces, were from Khotan in modern Xinjiang. As early as the mid-first millennium BC the Yuezhi engaged in the jade trade, of which the major consumers were the rulers of agricultural China." (Liu (2001), pp. 267–268).
The nomadic tribes of the Yuezhi are documented in Chinese historical accounts, in particular the 2nd-1st century BC "Records of the Great Historian", or Shiji, by Sima Qian. According to these accounts:
- "The Yuezhi originally lived in the area between the Qilian or Heavenly Mountains (Tian Shan) and Dunhuang, but after they were defeated by the Xiongnu they moved far away to the west, beyond Dayuan, where they attacked and conquered the people of Daxia and set up the court of their king on the northern bank of the Gui [= Oxus] River. A small number of their people who were unable to make the journey west sought refuge among the Qiang barbarians in the Southern Mountains, where they are known as the Lesser Yuezhi.",
According to Han accounts, the Yuezhi "were flourishing" during the time of the first great Chinese Qin emperor, but were regularly in conflict with the neighbouring tribe of the Xiongnu to the northeast.
Pliny the Elder (, Chap XXIV "Taprobane") reports a curious description of the Seres (in the territories of northwestern China) made by an embassy from Taprobane (Ceylon) to Emperor Claudius, saying that they "exceeded the ordinary human height, had flaxen hair, and blue eyes, and made an uncouth sort of noise by way of talking", suggesting they may be referring to the ancient Caucasian populations of the Tarim Basin.
Modern genetic analysis suggests that aboriginal inhabitants had a high proportion of DNA of European origin.
In 2009, the remains of individuals found at the Xiaohe Tomb complex were analyzed for Y-DNA and mtDNA markers. The study found that while Y-DNA corresponded to West Eurasian populations, the mtDNA haplotypes were an admixture of East Asian and European origin. The geographic location of where this admixing took place is suggested to be somewhere in Southern Siberia before these people moved into the Tarim Basin. Xiaohe is the oldest archaeological site yielding human remains discovered in the Tarim Basin to date.
Some Uyghur scholars claim modern Uyghurs descent from both the Turkic Uyghurs and the pre-Turkic Tocharians (Yuezhi), and relatively fair hair and eyes, as well as other so-called 'Caucasoid' physical traits, are not uncommon among Uyghurs. Genetic analyses suggest West Eurasian ("Caucasoid") maternal contribution to Uyghurs is 42.6%. The estimation of European component in modern Uyghur population ranged from 30 to 60%.
Struggle between Xiongnu and Han China
Traversed by the Northern Silk Road, Western Regions is the Chinese name for the Tarim and Dzungaria regions of what is now northwest China. At the beginning of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220), the region was subservient to the Xiongnu, a powerful nomadic people based in modern Mongolia. In the 2nd century BC, Han China sent Zhang Qian as an envoy to the states in the region, beginning several decades of struggle between the Xiongnu and Han China over dominance of the region, eventually ending in Chinese success. In 60 BC Han China established the Protectorate of the Western Regions (西域都護府) at Wulei (烏壘; near modern Luntai) to oversee the entire region as far west as the Pamir. This became the first sign of Han Chinese rule in Central Asia, the sovereignty of Han dynasty expanded into Central Asia. Tarim Basin and Indo-European kingdoms was under the control of Han dynasty and was influenced by Han Chinese emperors.
During the usurpation of Wang Mang in China, the dependent states of the protectorate rebelled and returned to Xiongnu domination in AD 13. Over the next century, Han China conducted several expeditions into the region, re-establishing the protectorate from 74-76, 91-107, and from 123 onward. After the fall of the Han Dynasty (220), the protectorate continued to be maintained by Cao Wei (until 265) and the Western Jin Dynasty (from 265 onwards).
A succession of peoples
The Western Jin Dynasty succumbed to successive waves of invasions by nomads from the north at the beginning of the 4th century. The short-lived non-Han Chinese kingdoms that ruled northwestern China one after the other, including Former Liang, Former Qin, Later Liang, and Western Liáng, all attempted to maintain the protectorate, with varying extents and degrees of success. After the final reunification of northern China under the Northern Wei empire, its protectorate controlled what is now the southeastern third of Xinjiang. Local states such as Kashgar (Shule), Hotan (Yutian), Kucha (Guizi) and Cherchen (Qiemo) controlled the western half, while the central region around Turpan was controlled by Qara-hoja (Gaochang), remnants of a Xiongnu state Northern Liang that once ruled part of what is now Gansu province in northwestern China.
In the late 5th century the Tuyuhun and the Rouran asserted power in southern and northern Xinjiang, respectively, and the Chinese protectorate was lost again. In the 6th century the Turks began to emerge in the Altay region, subservient to the Rouran. Within a century they had defeated the Rouran and established a vast Turk Empire, stretching over most of Central Asia past both the Aral Sea in the west and Lake Baikal in the east. In 583 the Gokturks split into western and eastern halves, with Xinjiang coming under the western half. In 609, China under the Sui Dynasty defeated the Tuyuhun, forced him to take refuge in Qilian mountains.
Starting from the 620's and 630's, Chinese Tang empire conducted a series of expeditions against the Eastern Turks. By 640, military campaigns were dispatched against the Western Turkic Khaganate, and their vassals, the oasis states of southern Xinjiang. The campaigns against the oasis states began under Emperor Taizong with the annexation of Gaochang in 640. The nearby kingdom of Karasahr was captured by the Tang in 644 and the kingdom of Kucha was conquered in 649.
The expansion into Central Asia continued under Taizong's successor, Emperor Gaozong, who dispatched an army in 657 led by Su Dingfang against the Western Turk qaghan Ashina Helu. Ashina's defeat strengthened Tang rule in southern Xinjiang and brought the regions formerly controlled by the khaganate into the Tang empire. The military expedition included 10,000 horsemen supplied by the Uyghurs, who were close allies of the Tang. The Uyghurs had allied with the Tang ever since the dynasty supported their revolt against the reign of the Xueyantuo, a tribe of Tiele people. Xinjiang was administered through the Anxi Protectorate (安西都護府; "Protectorate Pacifying the West") and the Four Garrisons of Anxi.
Tang hegemony beyond the Pamir Mountains in modern Tajikistan and Afghanistan ended with revolts by the Turks, but the Tang retained a military presence in Xinjiang. These holdings were later invaded by the Tibetan Empire to the south, and Xinjiang alternated between Tang and Tibetan rule as they competed for control of Central Asia. In 662 a rebellion broke out and Tang army was sent to control the situation, but was badly defeated by the Tibetans in the south of Kashgar. After defeating Tang in 670, the Tibetans gained control of the whole region and completely subjugated Kashgar in 676-8 and retained possession until 692, then China regained control of all southern Xinjiang, and retained it for the next fifty years. 728, the local king of Kashgar was awarded a brevet by the Tang emperor. During the devastating Anshi Rebellion, Tibet invaded Tang China on a wide front from Xinjiang to Yunnan, sacking the Tang capital in 763, and taking control of southern Xinjiang. At the same time, the Uyghur Empire took control of northern Xinjiang, as well as much of the rest of Central Asia, including Mongolia, where their empire originated.
A significant milestone of the Tang period of Xinjiang was that it marked the end of Indo-European influence in Xinjiang. This was partially spurred by Chinese policies, which unintentionally sped the turkification of Xinjiang, rather than the sinification that had occurred in other territories conquered by the Tang. The Tang Dynasty recruited a large number of Turkic soldiers and generals, and the Chinese garrisons of Xinjiang were for the most part staffed by Turks rather than those of the Han ethnicity. Xinjiang was beginning its transition into a region that is linguistically and culturally Turko-Mongolic, which it still is to this day.
By 745 the Uyghur Empire stretched from the Caspian Sea to Manchuria and lasted from 745 to 840. After the Battle of Talas in 751, Uyghur Khaganate took control of northern Xinjiang, as well as much of the rest of Central Asia, including Mongolia, where their empire originated. It was also during this time that Tang China started a process of withdrawal from Central Asia. Bayanchur Khan acted quickly and took over the fertile Tarim Basin as well.
The Chinese defeat at the Battle of Talas combined with a series of rebellions, the largest being of An Lushan, forced the Chinese emperor to turn to Bayanchur Khan for assistance. Seeing this as an ideal opportunity to meddle in Chinese affairs, the Khagan agreed, quelling several rebellions and defeating an invading Tibetan army from the south. As a result, the Uyghurs received tribute from the Chinese and Bayanchur Khan was given the daughter of the Chinese Emperor to marry (princess Ningo).
In 762, in alliance with the Tang, Tengri Bögü (Chinese transcription Idigan ) launched a campaign against the Tibetans. He recaptured for the Tang Emperor the western capital Luoyang. Khagan Tengri Bögü met with Manichaean priests from Iran while on campaign, and was converted to Manicheism, adopting it as the official religion of the Uyghur Empire.
In 779 Tengri Bögü, incited by sogdian traders, living in Ordu Baliq, planned an invasion of China to take advantage of the accession of a new emperor. Tengri Bögü's uncle, Tun Bagha Tarkhan opposed this plan, fearing it would result in Uyghur assimilation into Chinese culture.
In 840, the Kyrgyz tribe invaded from the north with a force of around 80,000 horsemen. They sacked the Uyghur capital at Ordu Baliq, razing it to the ground. The Kyrgyz captured the Uyghur Khagan, Kürebir (Hesa) and promptly beheaded him. The Kyrgyz went on to destroy other Uyghur cities throughout their empire, burning them to the ground. The last legitimate khagan, Öge, was assassinated in 847, having spent his 6-year reign in fighting the Kyrgyz and the supporters of his rival Ormïzt, a brother of Kürebir. The Kyrgyz invasion destroyed the Uyghur Empire, causing a diaspora of Uyghur people across Central Asia.
Uyghur State and Kara-Khanid Khanate
Both Tibet and the Uyghur Khaganate declined in the mid-9th century. After the Uyghur Khanate in Mongolia had been smashed by the Kirghiz in 840, branches of the Uyghurs established themselves in Qocha (Karakhoja) and Beshbalik near today's Turfan and Urumchi. This Uyghur Kara-Khoja Kingdom would remain in eastern Xinjiang until the 14th century, though it would be subject to various overlords during that time.
The Kara-Khanid Khanate arose some time in the ninth century from a confederation of Turkic tribes living in Semirechye, Western Tian Shan (modern Kyrgyzstan), and Western Xinjiang (Kashgaria). They later occupied Transoxania. The Karakhanids were made up mainly of the Karluks, Chigils and Yaghma tribes. The capital of Karakhanid Khanate was Balasaghun on the Chu River, later also Samarkand and Kashgar. The Kara-Khanids converted to Islam, whereas the Uyghur state in eastern Xinjiang remained Manicheaean, but later converted to Buddhism. Nestorian Christianity was also a prominent faith in their kingdom.
In 1132, remnants of the Khitan Empire from Manchuria entered Xinjiang, fleeing the onslaught of the Jurchens into north China. They established an exile regime, the Kara-Khitan Khanate, which became overlord over both Kara-Khanid-held and Uyghur State-held parts of the Tarim Basin for the next century.
After Genghis Khan had unified Mongolia and began his advance west, the Uyghur state in the Turfan-Urumchi area offered its allegiance to the Mongols in 1209, contributing taxes and troops to the Mongol imperial effort and worked as civil servants to the Mongols. In return, the Uyghur rulers retained control of their kingdom. In 1218, Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire captured what was once Kara-Khitan's territories. After the break-up of the Mongol Empire into smaller khanates, Xinjiang, though mostly ruled by the Chagatai Khanate, one of the successor states of the empire, in fact was fought over by Yuan Dynasty, the successor regime based in Mongolia and in China.
After the death of Qazan Khan in 1346, the Chagatai Khanate, which embraced both East and West Turkestan, was divided into western (Transoxiana) and eastern (Moghulistan) halves. Power in the western half devolved into the hands of several tribal leaders, most notably the Qara'unas. Khans appointed by the tribal rulers were mere puppets. In the east, Tughlugh Timur (1347–1363), an obscure Chaghataite adventurer, gained ascendancy over the nomadic Mongols, and converted to Islam. During his rein (and ruled until 1363), the moghuls were converted to Islam and slowly turkizised. In 1360, and again in 1361, he invaded the western half in the hope that he could reunify the khanate. At their height, the Chaghataite domains extended from the Irtysh River in Siberia down to Ghazni in Afghanistan, and from Transoxiana to the Tarim Basin.
Moghulistan embraced settled lands in Eastern Turkestan as well as nomad lands north of Tangri Tagh. The settled lands were known at the time as Manglai Sobe or Mangalai Suyah, which translates as Shiny Land, or Advanced Land Which Faced the Sun. These lands included west and central Tarim oasis-cities, such as Khotan, Yarkand, Yangihisar, Kashgar, Aksu, and Uch Turpan; and hardly involved eastern Tangri Tagh oasis-cities, such as Kucha, Karashahr, Turpan and Kumul, where a local uyghur administration and buddhist population still existed. The nomadic areas comprised the present Kyrghyzstan and part of Kazakhstan, including Jettisu, the area of seven rivers.
Moghulistan existed around 100 years, and then split into two parts: Yarkand state (mamlakati Yarkand), with its capital at Yarkand, which embraced all the settled lands of Eastern Turkestan, and nomad Moghulistan, which embraced the nomad lands north of Tengri Tagh. The founder of Yarkand was Mirza Abu-Bakr, who was from the dughlat tribe. In 1465, he raised a rebellion, captured Yarkand, Kashgar, and Khotan, and declared himself an independent ruler, successfully repelling attacks by the Moghulistan rulers Yunus Khan and his son Akhmad Khan, or Ahmad Alaq, named Alach, "Slaughterer", for his war against the kalmyks.
Dughlat amirs had ruled the country that lay south of the Tarim Basin from the middle of the thirteenth century, on behalf of Chagatai Khan and his descendents, as their satellites. The first dughlat ruler, who received lands directly from the hands of Chagatai, was amir Babdagan or Tarkhan. The capital of the emirate was Kashgar, and the country was known as Mamlakati Kashgar. Although the emirate, representing the settled lands of Eastern Turkestan, was formally under the rule of the moghul khans, the dughlat amirs often tried to put an end to that dependence, and raised frequent rebellions, one of which resulted in the separation of Kashgar from Moghulistan for almost 15 years (1416–1435).Mirza Abu-Bakr ruled Yarkand for 48 years.
State of Yarkand
In May, 1514, Sultan Said Khan, grandson of Yunus Khan (ruler of Moghulistan between 1462 and 1487) and third son of Akhmad Khan, made an expedition against Kashgar from Andijan with only 5000 men, and having captured the Yangihisar citadel, that defended Kashgar from south road, took the city, dethroning Mirza Abu-Bakr. Soon after, other cities of Eastern Turkestan — Yarkant, Khotan, Aksu, and Uch Turpan — joined him, and recognized Sultan Said Khan as ruler, creating a union of six cities, called Altishahr. Sultan Said Khan's sudden success is considered to be contributed to by the dissatisfaction of the population with the tyrannical rule of Mirza Abu-Bakr and the unwillingness of the dughlat amirs to fight against a descendant of Chagatai Khan, deciding instead to bring the head of the slain ruler to Sultan Said Khan. This move put an end to almost 300 years of rule (nominal and actual) by the Dughlat Amirs in the cities of West Kashgaria (1219–1514). He made Yarkand the capital of a state, "Mamlakati Yarkand" which lasted until 1678.
The Khojah Kingdom
In the 17th century, the Dzungars (Oirats, Kalmyks) established an empire over much of the region. Kalmyks controlled an area known as Grand Tartary or the Kalmyk Empire to Westerners, which stretched from the Great Wall of China to the Don River, and from the Himalayas to Siberia. A Sufi master Khoja Āfāq defeated Saidiye kingdom and took the throne at Kashgar with the help of the Oirat (Dzungar) Mongols. After Āfāq's death, the Dzungars held his descendants hostage. The Khoja dynasty rule in the Altishahr (Tarim Basin) region lasted until 1759.
The Qing Empire
The Qing Empire, established by the Manchus in China, gained control over eastern Xinjiang as a result of a long struggle with the Dzungars that began in the seventeenth century. In 1755, the Qing Empire attacked Ghulja, and captured the Dzungar Khan. Over the next two years, the Manchus and Mongol armies of the Qing destroyed the remnants of the Dzungar Khanate, and attempted to divide the Xinjiang region into four sub-Khanates under four chiefs. Similarly, the Qing made members of a clan of Sufi shaykhs known as the Khojas, rulers in the western Tarim Basin, south of the Tianshan Mountains. In 1758-1759, however, rebellions against this arrangement broke out both north and south of the Tian Shan mountains.
After perpetrating wholesale massacres, in 1759, the Qing finally consolidated their authority by settling Chinese emigrants, together with a Manchu Qing garrison. The Qing put the whole region under the rule of a General of Ili (Chinese: 伊犁将军, Yili Jiangjün), headquartered at the fort of Huiyuan (the so-called "Manchu Kuldja", or Yili), 30 km west of Ghulja (Yining). The Qing had thoughts of pushing their conquests towards western Turkestan and Samarkand, the chiefs of which sent to ask assistance of the Afghan king Ahmed Shah. This monarch despatched an embassy to Peking to demand the restitution of the Muslim states of Central Asia, but the embassy was not well received, and Ahmed Shah was too much engaged with the Sikhs to attempt to enforce his demands by arms.
A large slave trade existed in Xinjiang, see Slavery in China#Xinjiang.
Under the "fundamental laws" of China, one section is titled "Wizards, Witches, and all Superstitions, prohibited." The Jiaqing Emperor in 1814 A.D. added a sixth clause in this section with reference to Christianity. It was modified in 1821 and printed in 1826 by the Daoguang Emperor. It sentenced Europeans to death for spreading Christianity among Han Chinese and Manchus (tartars). Christians who would not repent their conversion were sent to Muslim cities in Xinjiang, to be given as slaves to Muslim leaders and beys.
The clause stated: "People of the Western Ocean, [Europeans or Portuguese,] should they propagate in the country the religion of heaven's Lord, [name given to Christianity by the Romanists,] or clandestinely print books, or collect congregations to be preached to, and thereby deceive many people, or should any Tartars or Chinese, in their turn, propagate the doctrines and clandestinely give names, (as in baptism,) inflaming and misleading many, if proved by authentic testimony, the head or leader shall be sentenced to immediate death by strangulations : he who propagates the religion, inflaming and deceiving the people, if the number be not large, and no names be given, shall be sentenced to strangulation after a period of imprisonment. Those who are merely hearers or followers of the doctrine, if they will not repent and recant, shall be transported to the Mohammedan cities (in Turkistan) and given to be slaves to the beys and other powerful Mohammedans who are able to coerce them. . . . All civil and military officers who may fail to detect Europeans clandestinely residing in the country within their jurisdiction, and propagating their religion, thereby deceiving the multitude, shall be delivered over to the Supreme Board and be subjected to a court of inquiry."
Uyghur Rebellions and Qing Reconquest
In 1827, southern part of Xinjiang was retaken by former ruler's descendant Jihangir Khojah; Chang-lung, the Chinese general of Hi, recovered possession of Kashgar and the other revolted cities in 1828. A revolt in 1829 under Mohammed AH Khan and Yusuf, brother of Jihangir Khojah, was more successful, and resulted in the concession of several important trade privileges to the of the district of Alty Shahr (the "six cities"). Until 1846 the country enjoyed peace under the just and liberal rule of Zahir-ud-din, the Uyghur governor, but in that year a fresh Khojah revolt under Kath Tora led to his making himself master of the city, with circumstances of unbridled license and oppression. His reign was, however, brief, for at the end of seventy-five days, on the approach of the Chinese, he fled back to Khokand amid the jeers of the inhabitants. The last of the Khojah revolts (1857) was of about equal duration with the previous one, and took place under Wali-Khan. The great Tungani revolt, or insurrection of the Chinese Muslims, which broke out in 1862 in Gansu, spread rapidly to Zungaria and through the line of towns in the Tarim basin. The Tungani troops in Yarkand rose, and (10 August 1863) massacred some seven thousand Chinese, while the inhabitants of Kashgar, rising in their turn against their masters, invoked the aid of Sadik Beg, a Kyrgyz chief, who was reinforced by Buzurg Khan, the heir of Jahanghir, and Yakub Beg, his general, these being despatched at Sadik's request by the ruler of Khokand to raise what troops they could to aid Muslims in Kashgar. Sadik Beg soon repented of having asked for a Khojah, and eventually marched against Kashgar, which by this time had succumbed to Buzurg Khan and Yakub Beg, but was defeated and driven back to Khokand. Buzurg Khan delivered himself up to indolence and debauchery, but Yakub Beg, with singular energy and perseverance, made himself master of Yangi Shahr, Yangi-Hissar, Yarkand, and other towns, and eventually declared himself the Amir of Kashgaria.
Yakub Beg ruled at the height of The Great Game era when the British, Russian, and Manchu Qing empires were all vying for Central Asia. Kashgaria extended from the capital Kashgar in south-western Xinjiang to Ürümqi, Turfan, and Hami in central and eastern Xinjiang more than a thousand kilometers to the north-east, including a majority of what was known at the time as East Turkestan.
Kashgar and the other cities of the Tarim basin remained under Yakub Beg's rule until December 1877. Yakub Beg's rule lasted until General Zuo Zongtang (also known as General Tso) reconquered the region in 1877 for Qing China. In 1881, Qing China recovered the Gulja region through diplomatic negotiations (Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1881)).
Yaqub Beg and his Turkic Uyghur Muslims also declared a Jihad against Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang. Yaqub went as far as to enlist Han Chinese to help fight against Chinese Muslim forces. Turkic Muslims also massacred Chinese Muslims in Ili.
In 1884, Qing China renamed the conquered region, established Xinjiang ("new frontier") as a province, formally applying onto it the political system of China proper. For the 1st time the name "Xinjiang" replaced old historical names such as "Western Regions", "Chinese Turkestan", "Eastern Turkestan", "Uyghuristan", "Kashgaria", "Uyghuria", "Alter Sheher" and "Yetti Sheher".
20th Century and after the Qing Dynasty
In 1912 the Qing Dynasty was replaced by the Republic of China. Yuan Dahua, the last Qing governor of Xinjiang, fled. One of his subordinates Yang Zengxin, acceded to the Republic of China in March of the same year, and maintained control of Xinjiang until his death in 1928. Following insurgencies against Governor Jin Shuren in the early 1930s, a rebellion in Kashgar led to the establishment of the short-lived First East Turkistan Republic (First ETR) in 1933. The ETR claimed authority around the Tarim Basin from Aksu in the north to Khotan in the south, and was suppressed by the armies of the Chinese Muslim warlord Ma Zhongying in 1934.
In 1933, Sheng Shicai, a Chinese warlord, seized control of Xinjiang with support from the Soviet Union (USSR) which helped him defeat Ma Zhongying. Sheng ruled the region for a decade during permitted greater Soviet influence Xinjiang's ethnic, economic and security policies. Sheng invited a group of Chinese Communists to Xinjiang including Mao Zedong's brother Mao Zemin, but in 1943, fearing a conspiracy against him, Sheng killed all Chinese communists, including Mao Zemin. In the summer of 1944, during the Ili Rebellion, a Second East Turkistan Republic (Second ETR) was established, this time, with Soviet support, in what is now Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in northern Xinjiang. The Three Districts Revolution, as it is known in China, threatened the Nationalist provincial government in Ürümqi. Sheng Shicai fell from power and Zhang Zhizhong was sent from Nanjing to negotiate a truce with the Second ETR and the USSR. An uneasy coalition provincial government was formed and brought nominal unity to Xinjiang with separate administrations.
The coalition government came to an end at the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War when the victorious Chinese Communists entered Xinjiang in 1949. The leadership of the Second ETR was persuaded by the Soviet Union to negotiate with the Chinese Communists. Most were killed in an airplane crash en route to a peace conference in Beijing in late August. The remaining leadership under Saifuddin Azizi agreed to join the newly founded People's Republic of China. The Nationalist military commander in Xinjiang Tao Zhiyue and provincial governor Burhan Shahidi surrendered to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in September. Kazak militias under Osman Batur resisted the PLA into the early 1950s. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the PRC was established on October 1, 1955, replacing Xinjiang Province.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch speculate that Uyghur resentment towards alleged repression of Uyghur culture may explain some of the ethnic riots that have occurred in Xinjiang during the PRC period.
Conversely, Han Chinese are treated as second class citizens by PRC policies, in which many of the ethnic autonomy policies are discriminatory against them (see autonomous entities of China) and previous Chinese dynasties owned Xinjiang before the Uyghur Empire. Independence advocates view Chinese rule in Xinjiang, and policies like the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps as Chinese imperialism.
In the 1980s there was a scattering of student demonstrations and riots against police action that took on an ethnic aspect; and the Baren Township riot in April, 1990, an abortive uprising, resulted in more than 50 deaths.
A police round-up and execution of 30 suspected separatists during Ramadan resulted in large demonstrations in February 1997 which were characterised as riots in the Chinese state media, which western have described as peaceful. These demonstrations culminated in the Gulja Incident on the 5th of February, where a PLA crackdown on the demonstrations led to at least 9 deaths  and perhaps more than 100. The Ürümqi bus bombs of February 25, 1997, killed 9 and injured 68. The situation in Xinjiang was relatively quiet from the late nineties through mid-2006, though inter-ethnic tensions no doubt remained.
Recent incidents include the 2007 Xinjiang raid, a thwarted 2008 suicide bombing attempt on a China Southern Airlines flight, and the 2008 Xinjiang attack which resulted in the deaths of sixteen police officers four days before the Beijing Olympics. Further incidents include the July 2009 Ürümqi riots, the September 2009 Xinjiang unrest, and the 2010 Aksu bombing that led to the trials of 376 people. The 2011 Hotan attack in July led to the deaths of 18 civilians. Although all of the attackers were Uyghur, both Han and Uyghur people were victims.
- This article incorporates text from Life among the Chinese: with characteristic sketches and incidents of missionary operations and prospects in China, by Robert Samuel Maclay, a publication from 1861 now in the public domain in the United States.
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