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Xinjiang Muslim Revolt

Also called: Kumul Rebellion

Years: 1931-1934
Battle deaths: 21,000 [1]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]
Soviet Union, China

Published: 2013-08-01 15:50:55 | Updated: 2014-08-04 23:17:44
The Kumul Rebellion was a rebellion of Kumulik Uyghurs who conspired with the Chinese Muslim General Ma Zhongying to overthrow Jin Shuren, governor of Xinjiang. The Kumul Uyghurs were loyalists of the Kumul Khanate and wanted to restore the heir to the Khanate and overthrow Jin. The Kuomintang wanted Jin removed because of his ties to the Soviet Union, so it approved of the operation while pretending to acknowledge Jin as governor. The rebellion then catapulted into large scale fighting as Khotanlik Uyghur rebels in southern Xinjiang started a separate rebellion for independence in collusion with Kirghiz rebels. Various groups rebelled, and were not united, some fought against each other. The main part of the war was waged by Ma Zhongying against the Xinjiang government, he was supported by Chiang Kaishek, the Premier of China, who secretly agreed to let Ma seize Xinjiang.

Ma’s troops marched to Kumul and laid siege to the government forces in the garrison there. Although he was victorious elsewhere in the area, Ma was unable to capture the city. After being wounded that October, in a battle where Jin’s force included 250 White Russian troops whom he had recruited from the Ili valley (where they had settled after the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War), Ma withdrew his forces back to Gansu (where he was nursed by Mildred Cable and the sisters Francesca and Eva French, whom he kept captive until he had recovered). This would temporarily leave the Xinjiang Muslims to fight Jin alone.

Ma Zhongying returned to Xinjiang in 1933 to continue the war. Kumul was easily taken, as well as other towns en route to the provincial capital. Sheng Shicai’s forces retreated to Urumchi. Ground was alternatively gained and lost by both sides. During this time, Ma’s forces acquired notoriety for their cruelty to both the Turkic and Chinese inhabitants, destroying the economy and engaging in wholesale looting and burning of villages.

In January 1934, Soviet troops crossed the border and attacked rebel positions in the Ili area in the Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang. Zhang Peiyuan’s forces were defeated, and he committed suicide. Despite valiant resistance, Ma Zhongying’s troops were forced to retreate from Soviet military machine’s aerial bombing, and were pushed back from Urumchi during the Battle of Tutung.

Ma’s retreating forces began advancing down to Southern Xinjiang, to destroy the First East Turkestan Republic. He sent out an advance guard under Ma Fuyuan to attack the Khotanlik Uyghurs and Kirghiz at Kashgar.

At this point, Chiang Kai-shek was ready to sent Huang Shaohong and his expeditionary force of 15,000 troops to assist Ma Zhongying against Sheng, but when Chiang heard about the Soviet Invasion, he decided to witihdraw to avoid an international incident if his troops directly engaged the Soviets.

Source: Wikipedia, published under the GNU FDL. Retrieved 2014-08-04


Notes on fatalities

[1] Battle deaths: Correlates of War, Intra-State War Data v4.1 (id 711)

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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