Chinese Muslims in the Second Sino-Japanese War

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Chiang Kai-shek (right) meets with the Muslim Generals Ma Bufang (second from left), and Ma Buqing (first from left) in Xining, August 1942.

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 Manchukuo and Mengjiang.

Japanese atrocities committed against Hui Muslims[edit]

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 humiliation. 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.[1] Many Hui, Salar, Dongxiang, and Bonan Muslims fought in the war against Japan.

The Hui Muslim county of Dachang was subjected to slaughter by the Japanese.[2]

On 10 February 1938, Legation Secretary of the German Embassy, Rosen, wrote to his Foreign Ministry about a film made in December by Reverend John Magee about the Nanking Massacre to recommend its purchase. Here is an excerpt from his letter and a description of some of its shots, kept in the Political Archives of the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. One of the victims killed by the Japanese was a Muslim (Mohammedan) whose name was Ha.

During the Japanese reign of terror in Nanking – which, by the way, continues to this day to a considerable degree – the Reverend John Magee, a member of the American Episcopal Church Mission who has been here for almost a quarter of a century, took motion pictures that eloquently bear witness to the atrocities committed by the Japanese ... One will have to wait and see whether the highest officers in the Japanese army succeed, as they have indicated, in stopping the activities of their troops, which continue even today.[3]

On December 13, about 30 soldiers came to a Chinese house at #5 Hsing Lu Koo in the southeastern part of Nanking, and demanded entrance. The door was open by the landlord, a Mohammedan named Ha. They killed him immediately with a revolver and also Mrs. Ha, who knelt before them after Ha's death, begging them not to kill anyone else. Mrs. Ha asked them why they killed her husband and they shot her. Mrs. Hsia was dragged out from under a table in the guest hall where she had tried to hide with her 1 year old baby. After being stripped and raped by one or more men, she was bayoneted in the chest, and then had a bottle thrust into her vagina. The baby was killed with a bayonet. Some soldiers then went to the next room, where Mrs. Hsia's parents, aged 76 and 74, and her two daughters aged 16 and 14. They were about to rape the girls when the grandmother tried to protect them. The soldiers killed her with a revolver. The grandfather grasped the body of his wife and was killed. The two girls were then stripped, the elder being raped by 2–3 men, and the younger by 3. The older girl was stabbed afterwards and a cane was rammed in her vagina. The younger girl was bayoneted also but was spared the horrible treatment that had been meted out to her sister and mother. The soldiers then bayoneted another sister of between 7–8, who was also in the room. The last murders in the house were of Ha's two children, aged 4 and 2 respectively. The older was bayoneted and the younger split down through the head with a sword.[4]

Middle East and South Asia diplomatic tour against Japan[edit]

The Hui Muslim Imam Da Pusheng 达浦生 toured the Middle East to confront Japanese propagandists in Arab countries and denounce their invasion to the Islamic world. He directly confronted Japanese agents in Arab countries and challenged them in public over their propaganda. He went to British India, Hejaz in Saudi Arabia and Cairo in Egypt.

An anti-Japanese 8-month tour to spread awareness of the war in Muslim nations was undertaken by Muslim Shanghai Imam Da Pusheng.[5]

Misinformation on the war was spread in the Islamic Middle Eastern nations by Japanese agents. In response, in the World Islamic Congress in Hejaz, Imam Du openly confronted fake Muslim Japanese agents and exposed them as non-Muslims. Japan's history of imperialism was explained by Du to his fellow Muslims. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the future founder of Pakistan, met with Imam Du. The anti Japanese war effort in China received a pledge of support from Jinnah.[6]

Imam Du participated in Chengda.[7]

The anti-Japanese tour took place in 1938 in the Middle East by Da.[8] From 1938 to 1948 Da served on China's National Military Council. In 1923 he completed his education at Al Azhar.[9] China's Four Great Imams counted him as one of their members.[10]

In order to gain backing for China in Muslim countries, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey was visited by Hui Muslim 馬賦良[11] Ma Fuliang and Uyghur Muslim Isa Yusuf Alptekin in 1939.[12] The Hindu leaders Tagore and Gandhi and Muslim Jinnah both discussed the war with the Chinese Muslim delegation under Ma Fuliang while in Turkey İsmet İnönü met with the Chinese Muslim delegation.[13] Newspapers in China reported the visit.[14] Ma Fuliang and Isa were working for Zhu Jiahua.[15] 成吉斯汗

The bombardment of Chinese Muslims by the warplanes of the Japanese was reported in the newspapers of Syria. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon were all toured by the delegation. The Foreign Minister, Prime Minister, and President of Turkey met with the Chinese Muslim delegation after they came via Egypt in May 1939. Gandhi and Jinnah met with the Hui Ma Fuliang and Uyghur Isa Alptekin as they denounced Japan.[16]

Ma Fuxliang, Isa Alptekin, Wang Zengshan, Xue Wenbo, and Lin Zhongming all went to Egypt to denounce Japan in front of the Arab and Islamic words.[17]

Ma Fuliang was part of the Chinese Muslim Association.[18]

Anti-Japanese sentiment was spread by the Hui Muslim delegation under Wang Zengshan in Turkey through the Turkish media as the Hui Muslims denounced the Japanese invaders. During a meeting of ambassadors in Turkey the Japanese ambassador was forced to be quiet after being told to shut up by the Soviet Russian ambassador when the Japanese tried to insinuate that the Hui representatives did not represent ordinary Muslims.[19]

Muslim Jihad against Japan[edit]

In Shanghai the Islam School's Directors were hostile to the subversive incitement attempting to cause trouble between Muslims and the government instigated of a Japanese agent.[20]

The Guangxi Clique included Bai Chongxi.[21] Bai Chongxi founded a pan-Muslim organization.[22][23]

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.[24] Ma Bufang ended up supporting the anti-Japanese Imam Hu Songshan, who prayed for the destruction of the Japanese.[25] Ma became chairman (governor) of Qinghai in 1938 and commanded a group army. He was appointed because of his anti-Japanese inclinations,[26] and was such an obstruction to Japanese agents trying to contact the Tibetans that he was called an "adversary" by a Japanese agent.[27]

Assaults were launched against the Japanese in Anhui, Shanxi and Henan by a Zhengzhou-based Muslim youth corps.[28][29]

The Kuomintang maintained the alleigance of the Ma Clique.[30][31]

The Hui Yang Jingyu was killed in action while fighting the Japanese.[32]

The Muslim General Ma Biao, who led Muslim cavalry to fight against the Japanese in the Second Sino-Japanese War, fought in the Boxer Rebellion under General Ma Haiyan as a private in the Battle of Peking against the foreign Eight Nation Alliance which included the Japanese.[33] “恨不得馬踏倭鬼,給我已死先烈雪仇,與後輩爭光”。 "I am eager to stomp on the dwarf devils (A derogatory term for Japanese), I will give vengeance for the already dead martyrs, achieving glory with the younger generation." said by Ma Biao with reference to his service in the Boxer Rebellion where he already fought the Japanese before World War II.[34][35]

In 1937, when the Japanese attack at the Battle of Beiping–Tianjin began, the Chinese government was notified by Muslim General Ma Bufang of the Ma clique that he was prepared to bring the fight to the Japanese in a telegram message.[36] Immediately after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Ma Bufang arranged for a cavalry division under Muslim General Ma Lu 馬祿 and another cavalry division under the Muslim General Ma Biao to be sent east to battle the Japanese.[37] Ethnic Turkic Salar Muslims made up the majority of the first cavalry division which was sent by Ma Bufang.[38] Ma Biao annihilated the Japanese at the Battle of Huaiyang.[39][40][41][42][43][44][45]

When the Japanese asked the Muslim General Ma Hongkui to defect and become head of a Muslim puppet state under the Japanese, Ma responded through Zhou Baihuang, the Ningxia Secretary of the Nationalist Party to remind the Japanese military chief of staff Itagaki Seishiro that many of his relatives fought and died in battle against Eight Nation Alliance forces during the Battle of Peking in the Boxer Rebellion, including his uncle Ma Fulu, and that Japanese troops made up the majority of the Alliance forces so there would be no cooperation with the Japanese.[46]

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 guerrilla campaign in Suiyuan.[47] The Japanese themselves noted that Chiang Kai-shek relied upon Muslim generals like Ma Zhanshan and Bai Chongxi during the war.[48]

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.[49][50] Sven Hedin wrote that Ma Hushan would "certainly obey the summons" to join the Chinese side against Japan in the war.[51]

In 1937 the Chinese government picked up intelligence that the Japanese planned a puppet Hui Muslim country around Suiyuan and Ningxia, and had sent agents to the region.[52][53]

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.[54] 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.[55][56]

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".[57][58] 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.[59] 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.[60][61][62] 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.[63] 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.

Sufi scholar Zhang Chengzhi noted that during the war, Hui Muslims were suspicious of the intentions of Japanese researchers and deliberately concealed important religious information from them when interviewed.[64]

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).[65] 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 (Wade Giles : Ta Wang) in 1938, because Doihara Kenji, a Japanese officer of the Kwantung Army, visited the prince. Darijaya was exiled to Lanzhou until 1944.[66][67][68][69] 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),[70] 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 under General Ma Biao 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.[71] Ma Biao was a relative of !a Budang, being the eldest son of Ma Haiqing, who was the sixth younger brother of Ma Haiyan, the grandfather of Ma Bufang.[33]

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.

Xining was subjected to aerial bombardment by Japanese warplanes in 1941 during the Second-Sino Japanese War. The bombing spurred all ethnicities in Qinghai, including the local Qinghai Mongols and Qinghai Tibetans, against the Japanese.[72][73] The Salar Muslim General Han Youwen directed the defense of the city of Xining during air raids by Japanese planes. Han survived an aerial bombardment by Japanese planes in Xining while he was being directed via telephone from Ma Bufang, who hid in an air raid shelter in a military barracks. The bombing resulted in human flesh splattering a Blue Sky with a White Sun flag and Han being buried in rubble. Han Youwen was dragged out of the rubble while bleeding and he managed to grab a machine gun while he was limping and fired back at the Japanese warplanes and cursed the Japanese as dogs in his native Salar language.[74][75][76][77]

Chinese Muslim Cavalry
Chinese Muslim soldiers

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.[78] Ma Bufang complied, and moved several thousand troops to the border with Tibet.[79] 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.[80]

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".[81]

The Chinese Kuomintang also sought the Khampas' help in defending Sichuan from Japan, since the temporary capital was located there.[82] A Khampa member of the Mongolian Tibetan Academy was Han Jiaxiang.[83]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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