Soviet invasion of Xinjiang

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Soviet invasion of Xinjiang
Part of Kumul Rebellion
Date 1934
Location Xinjiang
Result Cease-fire, Xinjiang divided in two
Belligerents
Taiwan Republic of China  Soviet Union

Russian Empire White Russian forces
Torgut Mongols

Commanders and leaders
Taiwan Chiang Kai-shek

Taiwan Ma Zhongying
Taiwan Zhang Peiyuan
Taiwan Ma Hushan
Taiwan Ma Shih-ming

Soviet Union Joseph Stalin

Soviet Union General Volgin
Soviet Union Ishaq Beg
Russian Empire General Bektieieff (General Bekteev)
Russian Empire Colonel Proshkukarov

Strength
Republic of China Army Flag.svg 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) around 10,000 Chinese Muslim cavalry and foot soldiers

3,000 Han Chinese soldiers of the Ili Garrison[1]

7,000 Soviet Russian GPU and Red Army troops in 2 brigades, airplanes, tanks, mustard gas[2]

Several thousand White Russian soldiers
Several thousand Mongol Torguts

Casualties and losses
Heavy casualties, many civilians injured and killed. Heavy casualties, and many injured. Dozens of armored cars destroyed.

The Soviet invasion of Xinjiang was a military campaign in the Chinese northwestern region of Xinjiang in 1934. White Russian forces assisted the Soviet Red Army.[3]

Background[edit]

In 1934, Ma Zhongying's Chinese Muslim troops, supported by the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China were on the verge of defeating the Soviet puppet Sheng Shicai during the Battle of Urumqi (1933–34) in the Kumul Rebellion.

General Ma Zhongying, a Hui (Chinese Muslim), had earlier attended the Whampoa Military Academy in Nanjing in 1929, when it was run by Chiang Kai-shek, who was also the head of the Kuomintang and leader of China.[4][5]

Ma Zhongying then was sent back to Gansu province after graduating from the academy and fought in the Kumul Rebellion where, with the tacit support of the Kuomintang central government of the Republic of China, he tried to overthrow the pro Soviet provincial government first led by Governor Jin Shuren then Sheng Shicai. Ma invaded Xinjiang in support of Kumul Khanate loyalists and received official approval and designation from the Kuomintang as the 36th Division.

In late 1933, the Han Chinese provincial commander General Zhang Peiyuan and his Han army defected from the provincial government side to Ma Zhongying's side and joined him in waging war against Jin Shuren's provincial government.

Soviet Union invades Republic of China[edit]

In 1934, two brigades of about 7,000 Soviet Russian GPU troops, backed by tanks, airplanes and artillery with mustard gas, crossed the border to assist Sheng Shicai in gaining control of Xinjiang. The brigades were named "Altayiiskii" and "Tarbakhataiskii".[6] Sheng's Manchurian army was being severely beaten by an alliance of the Han Chinese Ili army led by the Han general Zhang Peiyuan, and the Chinese Muslim 36th Division led by the Chinese Muslims general Ma Zhongying.[7] Ma fought under the banner of the Kuomintang Republic of China government. The joint Soviet-White Russian force was called "The Altai Volunteers". Soviet soldiers disguised themselves in uniforms lacking markings, and were dispersed among the White Russians.[8]

Despite his early successes, Zhang's forces were overrun at Kulja and Chuguchak, and he committed suicide after the battle at Muzart Pass to avoid capture.

Even though the Soviet Russians were superior to the 36th Division in both manpower and technology, they were held off for weeks and took severe casualties. The 36th Division managed to halt the Soviet forces from supplying Sheng with military equipment. Chinese Muslim troops led by Ma Shih-ming managed to hold off the superior Russian forces armed with machine guns, tanks, and planes for about 30 days.[9]

When reports that the Chinese forces had defeated and killed the Soviets reached Chinese prisoners in Urumqi, they were reportedly so jubilant that they jumped around in their cells.[10]

Ma Hushan, Deputy Divisional Commander of the 36th division, became well known for victories over Russian forces during the invasion.[11]

At this point, Chiang Kai-shek was ready to send Huang Shaohong and his expeditionary force which he assembled to assist Ma Zhongying against Sheng, but when Chiang heard about the Soviet invasion, he decided to withdraw to avoid an international incident if his troops directly engaged the Soviets.[12]

Battle of Tutung[edit]

Main article: Battle of Tutung

In 1934, two Soviet Russian GPU brigades, consisting of about 7,000 troops backed by tanks, planes, and artillery, attacked the 36th division near Tutung. The battle raged for several weeks on the frozen Tutung River. 36th Division troops dressed in sheepskins in the snow, and stormed Soviet machine gun posts with swords to defeat a Soviet pincer attack. Soviet planes bombed the 36th Division with mustard gas. Both sides suffered heavy casualties before Ma Zhongying ordered the 36th Division to withdraw.[13][14]

Battle of Dawan Cheng[edit]

Main article: Battle of Dawan Cheng

Ma Zhongying was chased by a mixture of White Russian, Mongol, and collaborationist Chinese forces. As he pulled back his forces, Ma Zhongying encountered a Soviet armored car column of a few hundred soldiers near Dawan Cheng. The 36th Division wiped out nearly the entire column, after engaging the Soviets in fierce melee combat, and toppled the wrecked Russian armored cars down the mountain. When a White Russian force showed up, Ma Zhongying withdrew.[13][15][16]

During the Battle of Dawan Cheng, Ma Zhongying for the last time tried to retake initiative from invading Soviet troops. He dug full-profile trenches in a narrow mountain pass and blocked the advance of Soviet troops for weeks. However, mustard gas air bombings of his positions, affecting about 20% of his troops, forced him to withdraw his forces on the end of February 1934 from Dawan Cheng to Turpan.

Conclusion of operations[edit]

During Ma Zhongying's retreat, he and 40 of his Chinese Muslim troops, fully armed, hijacked lorries at gunpoint from Sven Hedin, who was on an expedition from the Nanjing KMT government. When Hedin showed him his passports from Nanjing, Ma Zhongying's men, who were technically under Nanjing's command, responded by saying: "This has nothing to do with Nanking. There's a war on here, and no passports are valid in wartime."

The Chinese Muslim forces also reminded Sven that since they were serving Nanjing too, the lorries should be put under their command. Chang, who was in the service of General Ma Chung-ping, one of Ma Zhongying's subordinate generals, explained: "Military matters come before everything else! Nothing can be allowed to interfere with them. Nanking counts for nothing in a war in Sinkiang. For that matter, we are under Nanking too, and it ought to be in both your interest and Nanking's to help us."[17][18][19]

Hedin and his party were detained in Korla by Soviet and White Russian forces. Hedin personally met General Volgin. Torgut Mongols and White Russians served under the Soviet forces and joined them in occupying numerous cities.[20]

The Russians first advanced from Davan-ch'eng and then to Korla via Toqsun and Qara-shahr. The Torgut and Russian army marched into Korla on March 16. Russian Cossacks were seen serving in the Soviet forces. Ma Zhongying had warned Sven Hedin to avoid Dawan Cheng due to the battle going on between Chinese Muslim and Russian forces.[21]

General Volgin then met with Hedin, and started verbally attacking Ma Zhongying by saying: "General Ma is hated and abused everywhere, and he has turned Sinkiang into a desert. But he is brave and energetic and sticks at nothing. He isn't afraid of anything, whether aeroplanes or superior numbers. But now a new era has begun for Sinkiang. Now there is to be order, peace and security in this province. General Sheng Shih-ts'ai is going to organize the administration and put everything on its legs again."[21]

General Ma Zhongying's retreating army often hijacked lorries to assist in their retreat. Volgin noted that Ma Zhongying often destroyed Russian lorries during battle. A White Russian informed Sven that "We have been coming here from Qara-shahr all day, troop after troop. Two thousand Russians arrived to-day, half White, half Red. There are a thousand Torguts here; and two thousand troops of all arms have gone straight on to Kucha to attack Ma Chung-ying without touching Korla. Most of the two thousand who are in Korla now will continue westward to-morrow. We were five thousand strong when we started from Urumchi."

When the White Russian started to brag about what their army had done, Sven Hedin concluded that the Russian was lying, giving as one example of these lies the White Russian's exaggerated number of lorries they used.[22]

The Mongol soldiers were reported to have ill treated the people of Korla.[23]

Sven met another two White Russian officers serving under the Soviets, Colonel Proshkukarov and General Bekteev (aka General Bektieieff), who demanded an explanation as to why Hedin's lorries were in the service of Ma Zhongying's forces.[23]

Before Ma Zhongying himself retreated from the front line, he sent an advance guard of 800 troops under General Ma Fu-yuan to defeat the pro Soviet Uyghur forces of Hoja-Niyaz, who were armed with weapons supplied by the USSR, and to assist Ma Zhancang in the Battle of Kashgar (1934) to destroy the First East Turkestan Republic. Thomson-Glover stated that the Soviets gave Hoya Niyaz "nearly 2,000 rifles with ammunition, a few hundred bombs and three machine guns."[24] Hoja Niyaz's Uighur forces were defeated by the advance guard at Aksu, and he fled to Kashgar with 1,500 troops on January 13, 1934. During the Battle of Kashgar, he and the Turkic forces failed in all of their attacks to defeated the Chinese Muslim forces trapped in the city, suffering severe casualties.[25] Ma Fuyuan's 800 Chinese Muslim troops, along with 1,200 conscripts, routed and bulldozed the East Turkestani army of 10,000.[26]

Ma Zhongying, and his army retreated to Kashgar, arriving on April 6, 1934. GPU Soviet troops did not advance beyond Turfan. Ma was chased by provincial forces of White Russians, Mongols, and Sheng Shicai's Chinese troops from Manchuria, all the way to Aksu, but the pursuit gradually abated. Ma arrived in Sven Hedin's hijacked lorry, with the final part of his army, the rear guard, behind the advance guard. His forces were reported to be superior in hand-to-hand combat, but the Soviets continued to bomb his positions.[27]

General Ma told the British consulate in Kashgar that he immediately required assistance against the Russians, pointing out that he owed allegiance to the Chinese government, and that he intended to save Xinjiang from the grip of the Russians. Ma Zhongying consolidated his position at Maral Bashi and Fayzabad, establishing defensive lines against the Soviet/provincial attack. Ma Hushan directed the defense against the provincial forces. Bombing runs continued at Maralbashi in June, Ma Zhongying ordered his forces to shift from Kashgar to Khotan. However, for unknown reasons, Ma Zhongying himself crossed the border into the Soviet Union and was never heard from again.[28]

Captured Russian equipment[edit]

The 36th Division was severely lacking in arms. Rifles and other equipment dated around 1930 were seized from the Russians as booty to augment their own arms.[29]

Casualties[edit]

Soviet Russian casualties[edit]

In Novosibirsk a hospital for Soviet wounded for their invasion of Xinjiang was disguised as a "hospital for the injured from the Manchurian War", it was "discovered" by the Evening Standard reporter Bosworth Goldman.[30]

Goldman's account of the hospital stated that:

Men were sitting about in a gloomy hall, many of them with some part of their body hidden in bandages; they ranged in nationality from Laplanders to pure Mongols... I asked some of them where they had been, and they replied that they had been fighting in the southern Altai, in co-operation with some Chinese, against 'anti-social elements' disturbing the advance of the class warfare banner into Sinkiang... Later, other men with whom I spoke about this struggle often told me that they had never heard of a hospital at Novosibirsk. On the other hand, an occupant of the one I visited told me it was 'the best of the three'[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Howard L. Boorman, Richard C. Howard, Joseph K. H. Cheng (1970). Biographical dictionary of Republican China, Volume 3. Columbia University Press. p. 122. ISBN 0-231-08957-0. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  2. ^ Pearson, Graham S. "Uses of CW since the First World War". FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  3. ^ Dickens, Mark (1990). "The Soviets in Xinjiang 1911-1949". OXUS COMMUNICATIONS. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  4. ^ Lars-Erik Nyman (1977). Great Britain and Chinese, Russian and Japanese interests in Sinkiang, 1918-1934. Esselte studium. p. 52. ISBN 9124272876. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  5. ^ 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. 53. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  6. ^ S. Frederick Starr (2004). Xinjiang: China's Muslim borderland. M.E. Sharpe. p. 79. ISBN 0-7656-1318-2. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  7. ^ David D. Wang (1999). Under the Soviet shadow: the Yining Incident : ethnic conflicts and international rivalry in Xinjiang, 1944-1949. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. p. 52. ISBN 962-201-831-9. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  8. ^ 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. 302. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  9. ^ 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. 120. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  10. ^ Georg Vasel, Gerald Griffin (1937). My Russian jailers in China. Hurst & Blackett. p. 52. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  11. ^ M. Rafiq Khan (1963). Islam in China. Delhi: National Academy. p. 63. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  12. ^ Hsiao-ting Lin (2010). Modern China's Ethnic Frontiers: A Journey to the West. Taylor & Francis. p. 46. ISBN 0-415-58264-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  13. ^ a b Christian Tyler (2004). Wild West China: the taming of Xinjiang. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-8135-3533-6. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  14. ^ 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. 120. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  15. ^ 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. 121. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  16. ^ Ai-ch'ên Wu, Aichen Wu (1940). Turkistan tumult. Methuen: Methuen. pp. 89, 234. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  17. ^ Sven Anders Hedin, Folke Bergman, Gerhard Bexell, Birger Bohlin, Gösta Montell (1945). History of the expedition in Asia, 1927-1935, Part 3. Stockholm: Göteborg, Elanders boktryckeri aktiebolag. p. 84. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  18. ^ Sven Anders Hedin, Folke Bergman (1944). History of the expedition in Asia, 1927-1935, Part 3. Stockholm: SLANDERS BOKTRYCKERI AKTIEBOL AG G6TEBORG. p. 84. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ Sven Anders Hedin, Folke Bergman (1944). History of the expedition in Asia, 1927-1935, Part 3. Stockholm: Göteborg, Elanders boktryckeri aktiebolag. p. 112. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  21. ^ a b Sven Anders Hedin, Folke Bergman (1944). History of the expedition in Asia, 1927-1935, Part 3. Stockholm: Göteborg, Elanders boktryckeri aktiebolag. p. 113. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  22. ^ Sven Anders Hedin, Folke Bergman (1944). History of the expedition in Asia, 1927-1935, Part 3. Stockholm: Göteborg, Elanders boktryckeri aktiebolag. p. 114. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  23. ^ a b Sven Anders Hedin, Folke Bergman (1944). History of the expedition in Asia, 1927-1935, Part 3. Stockholm: Göteborg, Elanders boktryckeri aktiebolag. p. 115. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  24. ^ 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. 145. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  25. ^ 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. 121. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  26. ^ 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. 122. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  27. ^ 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. 124. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  28. ^ 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. 125. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  29. ^ Peter Fleming (1999). News from Tartary: A Journey from Peking to Kashmir. Evanston Illinois: Northwestern University Press. p. 308. ISBN 0-8101-6071-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  30. ^ 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. 302. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  31. ^ Bosworth Goldman (1934). Red road through Asia: a journey by the Arctic ocean to Siberia, Central Asia and Armenia; with an account of the peoples now living in those countries under the hammer and sickle (2 ed.). Methuen and Co., Ltd. p. 132. Retrieved 2011-05-29.