Kuomintang Islamic insurgency in China (1950–58)

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Kuomintang Islamic Insurgency in China (1950-1958)
Part of Chinese Civil War
Date 1950–1958
Location Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Yunnan
Status Communist victory
Taiwan Republic of China Kuomintang Nationalist Party China Communist Party of China
Commanders and leaders
Taiwan Chiang Kai-shek

Taiwan Ma Hushan 
Taiwan Han Yimu 
Taiwan Ma Yuanxiang 
Taiwan Ma Liang
Taiwan Ospan Batyr 
Taiwan Yulbars Khan
Taiwan Li Mi
Taiwan Maj. General Ma Chün-kuo
Taiwan Mapang Ma Shou-yi
Taiwan Lt. Gen. Teng Wen-hsiang
Taiwan Li Pin-pu
Taiwan Yeh Chih-nan
Taiwan Kengma T'ussu Han Yu-ch'ing
Taiwan Li Wen-huan

China Mao Zedong
National Revolutionary Army, Hui, Salar insurgents

Pro-Kuomintang Kazakhs under Ospan Batyr

People's Liberation Army, Ministry of Public Security
Casualties and losses
Almost all eliminated except for Burmese group Thousands

The Kuomintang Islamic Insurgency in China refers to a continuation of the Chinese Civil War by Muslim Kuomintang National Revolutionary Army forces in Northwest China, in the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Xinjiang, and another insurgency in Yunnan.


The majority of the insurgents were formal members of Ma Bufang's army of the National Revolutionary Army. Several of them were prominent Generals, such as Ma Hushan, who had earlier fought against the Soviets in Xinjiang.

Ma Bufang, Ma Hushan, and the other leaders who led the revolt were all former National Revolutionary Army soldiers and Kuomintang members. Many of the Chinese Muslim insurgents were veterans of the Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang, Sino-Tibetan War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, Ili Rebellion, and the Chinese Civil War. The Muslim insurgents were all Hui people, Salar people, or Dongxiang people.

When Ma Bufang fled after the Ningxia Campaign, he took over $50,000 in military funds and fled to Hong Kong.[1]

Some Hui Muslim Generals and units from Ningxia, like Ma Hongbin, his son Ma Dunjing, and the 81st Muslim Corps, defected to the Communist People's Liberation Army and joined them.[2] Many Muslim units in Xinjiang also defected to the Communists.[3]

Han Youwen, an ethnic Salar Muslim, defected to the Communists and joined the People's Liberation Army. Ma Zhanshan, another Muslim General, also defected to the Communists.

Most former Kuomintang Muslim Generals, like Ma Bufang, Ma Hongkui, his son Ma Dunjing, Bai Chongxi, Ma Jiyuan, Ma Chengxiang and their families fled to Taiwan along with the Republic of China government or to other places like Egypt and the United States when the Communists defeated them. However Ma Bufang's subordinate officers who remained behind in Qinghai were instructed to revolt against the PLA.

Ma Bufang and Ma Chengxiang's forces were stationed across Qinghai and Xinjiang along with Ospan Batyr's men, where were originally battling Soviet backed Uyghur rebels in the Ili Rebellion and the Mongols and Russians at the Battle of Baitag Bogd before the Communist victory in the Civil War and subsequent Incorporation of Xinjiang into the People's Republic of China. The anti-separatist, pro-Kuomintang Uyghur Yulbars Khan fought a final action at the Battle of Yiwu before fleeing to Taiwan.


General Ma Bufang announced the start of the Kuomintang Islamic Insurgency in China, on January 9, 1950, when he was in Cairo, Egypt, saying that Chinese Muslims would never surrender to Communism and would fight a guerrilla war against the Communists.[4][5] In 1951, Bai Chongxi made a speech to the entire Muslim world calling for a war against Russia, and Bai also called upon Muslims to avoid the Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, accusing him of being blind to Soviet imperialism.[6][7] Bai also called Stalin an ogre and claimed he and Mao were engineering World War Three.[6][7] Ma Bufang continued to exert "influence" on the insurgent KMT Muslim leaders.[8]

President Chiang Kai-Shek continued to make contact with and support the Muslim insurgents in northwest China. Kuomintang planes dropped supplies and arms to the Muslims; there were 14,000 former Muslim troops of Kuomintang Muslim Generals Ma Bufang and Ma Hongkui who were supplied by the Kuomintang, and with U.S. Central Intelligence Agency support. They operated in the Amdo region of Tibet in 1952.[9]

General Ma Hushan, a Kuomintang member and a Muslim, led an insurgency against the PLA from 1950–1954 using guerrilla tactics. Prior to this, he had earlier fought against the Soviet Red Army. He was against the Marxist-Leninist indoctrination of the Communist Party, and he killed hundreds of PLA soldiers in guerrilla ambushes in valleys and mountains. He was captured in 1954 and executed at Lanzhou.[10][11]

Ospan Batyr, a Turkic Kazakh who was on the Kuomintang payroll, fought for the Republic of China government against the Uyghurs, Mongols, and Russians, then against the Communist PLA invasion of Xinjiang. He was captured and executed in 1951.

Yulbars Khan, a Uyghur who worked for the Kuomintang, led a Chinese Hui Muslim cavalry against CPC forces taking over Xinjiang. In 1951, after most of his troops deserted and defected to the PLA, he fled to Calcutta in India via Tibet, where his men were attacked by the Dalai Lama's Tibetan forces. He managed to escape from the Dalai Lama's grip, and subsequently took a steamer to Taiwan.[12] The Kuomintang government then appointed him Governor of Xinjiang, a title which he held to until he died in the mid-1970s in Taiwan. His memoirs were published in 1969.[13]

General Ma Liang, who was related to Ma Bufang, had 2,000 Chinese Muslim troops under his command around Gansu/Qinghai. Chiang Kai-shek sent agents in May 1952 to communicate with him, and Chiang offered him the post of Commander-in-chief of the 103rd Route of the Kuomintang army, which was accepted by Ma. The CIA dropped supplies such as ammunition, radios, and gold at Nagchuka to Ma Liang.[14] Ma Yuanxiang was another Chinese Muslim General related to the Ma family.[15] Ma Yuanxiang and Ma Liang wreaked havoc on the Communist forces. In 1953, Mao Zedong was compelled to take radical action against them.[16] Ma Yuanxiang was then killed by the Communist forces in 1953.[17]

Other insurgencies[edit]


Another group of Kuomintang insurgents were in Burma. Many of them were Hui Muslims, like the insurgents in the northwest, but they did not coordinate their attacks with them.

After losing mainland China, a group of approximately 12,000 KMT soldiers escaped to Burma and continued launching guerrilla attacks into southern China.[18] Their leader, General Li Mi, was paid a salary by the ROC government and given the nominal title of Governor of Yunnan. After the Burmese government appealed to the United Nations in 1953, the U.S. began pressuring the ROC to withdraw its loyalists. By the end of 1954, nearly 6,000 soldiers had left Burma and Li Mi declared his army disbanded. However, thousands remained, and the ROC continued to supply and command them, even secretly supplying reinforcements at times.

Since the 1980s, thousands of Muslims from Myanmar and Thailand have migrated to Taiwan in search of a better life. They are descendants of nationalist soldiers that fled Yunnan when the communists took over mainland China.[19]


After the insurgency was finished off, the PLA used Hui soldiers who had served under Ma Bufang to crush the Tibetan revolt in Amdo.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeremy Brown, Paul Pickowicz (2007). Dilemmas of victory: the early years of the People's Republic of China. Harvard University Press. p. 192. ISBN 0-674-02616-0. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  2. ^ United States. Joint Publications Research Service (1984). China report: economic affairs, Issues 92-97. Foreign Broadcast Information Service. p. 34. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  3. ^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 225. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  4. ^ AP (10 Jan 1950). "Chinese Moslem Head Says War Will Go On". The Montreal Gazette. 
  5. ^ "Western Face Lost In Asia". The Manitoba Ensign. 21 Jan 1950. 
  6. ^ a b "Moslems Urged To Resist Russia". Christian Science Monitor. 25 Sep 1951. 
  7. ^ a b "CHINESE ASKS ALL MOSLEMS TO FIGHT REDS". Chicago Daily Tribune. 24 Sep 1951. 
  8. ^ Zedong Mao, Michael Y. M. Kau, John K. Leung (1986). Michael Y. M. Kau, John K. Leung, ed. The Writings of Mao Zedong, 1949-1976: September 1945 - December 1955. M.E. Sharpe. p. 34. ISBN 0-87332-391-2. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  9. ^ John W. Garver (1997). The Sino-American alliance: Nationalist China and American Cold War strategy in Asia. M.E. Sharpe. p. 169. ISBN 0-7656-0025-0. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  10. ^ Hao-jan Kao (1960). The Imam's story (6 ed.). Hong Kong: Green Pagoda Press. p. 106. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  11. ^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 310. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  12. ^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 225. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  13. ^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 279. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  14. ^ Hsiao-ting Lin (2010). Modern China's Ethnic Frontiers: A Journey to the West. Taylor & Francis. p. xxii. ISBN 0-415-58264-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  15. ^ Hsiao-ting Lin (2010). Modern China's Ethnic Frontiers: A Journey to the West. Taylor & Francis. p. xxi. ISBN 0-415-58264-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  16. ^ Hsiao-ting Lin (2010). Modern China's Ethnic Frontiers: A Journey to the West. Taylor & Francis. p. 122. ISBN 0-415-58264-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  17. ^ Steen Ammentorp (2000–2009). "The Generals of WWII Generals from China Ma Yuanxiang". Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  18. ^ Kaufman, Victor S. "Trouble in the Golden Triangle: The United States, Taiwan and the 93rd Nationalist Division". The China Quarterly. No. 166, Jun., 2001. p.441. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  19. ^ "Muslims in Taiwan". Government Information Office (ROC). 
  20. ^ Warren W. Smith (1996). The Tibetan nation: a history of Tibetan nationalism and Sino-Tibetan relations. Westview Press. p. 443. ISBN 0-8133-3155-2. Retrieved 2010-06-28.