Bai Lang Rebellion

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Bai Lang Rebellion
Date 1911-1914
Location China
Result Defeat of the Bandits
Belligerents
 Republic of China
Jahriyya menhuan
Xidaotang
Republic of China (1912–49) Gelaohui
Commanders and leaders
Republic of China (1912–49) Yuan Shikai
Republic of China (1912–49) Ma Anliang
Republic of China (1912–49) Ma Qi
Republic of China (1912–49) Ma Yuanzhang
Republic of China (1912–49) Ma Qixi
Republic of China (1912–49) Yang Jiqing

Republic of China (1912–49) Bai Lang
Strength
Beiyang Army
Han chinese and Muslim Hui militia
Tibetans
Bai Lang's army, approx 30,000 strong
Casualties and losses
thousands of civilian casualties

The Bai Lang Rebellion was a Chinese "bandit" rebellion that lasted from mid 1913 to late 1914. Launched against the Republican government of Yuan Shikai, the rebellion was led by Bai Lang (which can be translated as "White Wolf",[1] hence the rebellion's more common title of White Wolf Rebellion in western media). His army was an eclectic mix of anti-Yuan Shikai troops and rebels, bandit groups and Gelaohui (secret society) members, and also allied to southern Guangdong based revolutionaries.

Bai Lang: The individual[edit]

Bai Yung-chang, more commonly known by his pseudonym Bai Lang, was born in 1873, in Henan, to a wealthy family. As a youth he took a variety of "hands-on" jobs including employment as a government salt transporter and service as an anti-bandit militiaman. Nevertheless, his life changed in 1897 when he was arrested for getting into a fight with a man named Wang Zhen, who died during the altercation. After getting out of jail Bai was only dissuaded from becoming a bandit by his family, and instead turned his martial interests towards a legal outlet (namely, military service). During the last years of Manchu rule he served in China's Beiyang Army and was trained in tactics and weaponry in Japan. Upon his return he served as an adjutant to Wu Lu-chen, Imperial commander at Shijiazhuang. During the Chinese Revolution of 1911 the pro-revolutionary Gen. Wu was assassinated by Manchu or Beiyang Army troops loyal to Yuan Shikai, and Bai was forced to return home. After a series of storms ravaged the region's crops in late 1911, Bai and other local people fell in with the bandit Du Qibin.

The rebellion[edit]

From 1913 Bai was leading the bandit group. During the Second Revolution he threw his lot in against Yuan Shikai's government. For a year his troops waged a guerrilla war, evading government Beiyang Army troops and ravaging no less than 50 cities in central China. His actions caused mixed outpourings of mass support and popular outrage, with his army variously called by itself and supporters "The Citizen's Punitive Army", "Citizen's Army to Exterminate Bandits" and "The Army to Punish Yuan Shikai". among others. As his fame grew, deserters, bandits and revolutionaries bolstered his divisions and he swiftly moved through Henan, Anhui, Hubei, Shaanxi and Gansu, disrupting swathes of Northern China. In Henan the city of Yuxian, famed for its vital pharmaceutical industry, was ransacked of everything from medicine to guns and the military governor, Chang Chen-fang, was dismissed for his failure to suppress the uprising. Support from peasants grew due to Bai's anti-gentry and anti-tax stance (slogans like "take from the rich and give to the poor" increased rural support, as did the murder of magistrates and the distribution of grain stores).[2] Upon entering Gansu, however, the rebellion encountered strong civil and military resistance.[3]

Here, the traditionalist and Confucianist Muslim generals Ma Anliang and Ma Qi backed Yuan Shikai. Bai Lang faced opposition from nearly everyone, from the Tibetans serving under the Gansu-allied Yang Jiqing, the Gansu and Sichuan provincial armies, ethnic Hui and Han militias and Yuan Shikai's own National Beiyang Army. Muslim Gen. Ma Qi was instructed to incite the Muslims against Bai Lang in order to get Hui and Han to join together and fight him. Muslim imams preached anti-Bai announcements, claiming that Shaxide (Shahid or martyrdom) awaited those who died to fight him off. Unlike the rural areas in central and eastern China, where peasants had helped Bai's armies hide and strike out, Muslim families actively refused to support Bai's troops, even going so far as to burn themselves to death rather than deal with them. However, the Imams themselves took off and ran away after they told the Muslims to kill themselves, rather than die with them.[4] by a mix of ethnic Han and Hui militia commanded by Ma Qi and Ma Anliang.[5] Ma Qixi's Muslim Xidaotang humiliated and defeatd Bai's bandit forces, who looted the city.[6] The Muslim Generals were reported to be reactionary.[7]

Protracted warfare and this lack of public support led to a reversal in the rebels' treatment of the population; there was an increase in acts of looting and pillage, as well as strikingly brutal massacres.[8]

Eventually, Gen. Ma Anliang's passive defence, rather than chasing the far more agile rebel army, succeeded in wearing down Bai. The Tibetans attacked and drove Bai's army into retreat, with Ma Qixi's troops chasing them out of the Province.[9] According to Gansu legend, Bai Lang died at Daliuzhuang, he was decapitated and his head put on display.[10] However, official Chinese documents say he vanished in Shanxi and his body was never found. Yuan Shikai ordered Bai Lang's family tombs destroyed, and had the corpses cut to pieces.[11] Bai's headless body was left to rot.[12]

Yan Xishan crushed the remnants of Bai Lang's bandit army in late 1914.

Atrocities done by Bai Lang's bandit gangs[edit]

Bai Lang's forces raped, killed and pillaged. His troops became notoriously anti-Muslim, with some Shaanxi men in his army holding vendettas with Muslims that dated back to the Dungan revolt.[13] Henan and Shaanxi troops were notable for anti-Manchu and anti-Muslim sentiment, massacring thousands of Muslims at Taozhou.[14] Mass rape, looting, and killing also took place in Minzhou.[15]

Support from southern revolutionaries[edit]

Staunchly against Yuan Shikai's government, Bai developed an alliance with Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. Huang Xing, a friend of Sun, sent letters to Bai as well as weapons and ammunition.[16][17] Sun hoped for further bandit uprisings in Shaanxi, calling on the population to "return to glory" like Bai Lang's gangs.[18] Yuan Shikai's Beiyang regime knew of Bai Lang's connections with Sun Yatsen, but refused to make public of them for fear it would cause greater support for the rebellion.[19]

Outside of arms and supplies, however, Sun's influence on Bai Lang's bandit troops was minimal. Mostly uneducated, his troops could be divided between Robin Hood "freedom fighters" who believed they were taking on a corrupt regime and brigands who lived for plunder and survival. Though Sun Yat-sen and Huang Xing promised to make him Governor of Gansu, along with crates of propaganda posters on the subject.[20]

However, when Sun Yatsen turned to the Soviets for support, and resurrected the Kuomintang in the 1920s he sharply turned against the western-style, federalist democracy he preached during this time when he was aligned with Bai Lang. He then turned to the Soviet-style single-party model, and organized the Northern Expedition without the help of bandit gangs like Bai Lang. This nationalist Kuomintang later included the Muslim warlords who Bai Lang fought against.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Catholic World. Paulist Fathers. 1914. pp. 423–. 
  2. ^ Phil Billingsley (1988). Bandits in Republican China. Stanford University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-8047-1406-1. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  3. ^ Graham Hutchings (2003). Modern China: A Guide to a Century of Change. Harvard University Press. p. 41. ISBN 0-674-01240-2. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  4. ^ Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Richmond: Curzon Press. p. 144. ISBN 0-7007-1026-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  5. ^ Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Richmond: Curzon Press. p. 144. ISBN 0-7007-1026-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  6. ^ Dru C. Gladney (1996). Muslim Chinese: ethnic nationalism in the People's Republic. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard Univ Asia Center. p. 58. ISBN 0-674-59497-5. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  7. ^ Phil Billingsley (1988). Bandits in Republican China. Stanford University Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-8047-1406-1. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  8. ^ Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Richmond: Curzon Press. p. 144. ISBN 0-7007-1026-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  9. ^ Jonathan Neaman Lipman (2004). Familiar strangers: a history of Muslims in Northwest China. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 194. ISBN 0-295-97644-6. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  10. ^ Elizabeth J. Perry (2002). Challenging the mandate of Heaven: social protest and state power in China. 0765604450: M.E. Sharpe. p. 124. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  11. ^ Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (London, England) (1970). China now, Issues 1-47. 7: Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding. p. 124. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  12. ^ Phil Billingsley (1988). Bandits in Republican China. Stanford University Press. p. 248. ISBN 0-8047-1406-1. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  13. ^ Phil Billingsley (1988). Bandits in Republican China. Stanford University Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-8047-1406-1. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  14. ^ Jonathan Neaman Lipman (2004). Familiar strangers: a history of Muslims in Northwest China. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 194. ISBN 0-295-97644-6. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  15. ^ Jonathan Neaman Lipman (2004). Familiar strangers: a history of Muslims in Northwest China. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 192. ISBN 0-295-97644-6. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  16. ^ Elizabeth J. Perry (2002). Challenging the mandate of Heaven: social protest and state power in China. 0765604450: M.E. Sharpe. p. 121. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  17. ^ Jonathan Fenby (2005). Chiang Kai Shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost. Da Capo Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-7867-1484-0. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  18. ^ Phil Billingsley (1988). Bandits in Republican China. Stanford University Press. p. 248. ISBN 0-8047-1406-1. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  19. ^ JSTOR (Organization) (1984). Theory and society, Volume 13. Elsevier. p. 439. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  20. ^ Elizabeth J. Perry (2002). Challenging the mandate of Heaven: social protest and state power in China. 0765604450: M.E. Sharpe. p. 122. Retrieved 2010-11-01.