THE XINJIANG EXILE GOVERNMENT IN TAIWAN, 1954 – 1969

In May 2016 the Wilson Center in Washington DC published CWIHP e-Dossier No.73 on the Xinjiang exile government in Taiwan from 1954 to 1969 by Justin Jacobs. In September 1949, Republic of China officials in this far northwestern province of Xinjiang surrendered to the Chinese Communists…. Excerpts below:

Guerilla resistance movements soon broke out among several Uighur and Kazak groups, the most prominent of which were headed by Osman Batur, a Kazak chieftain from Altay, and Yolbars Khan, a Uighur official in Hami. After more than a year of sporadic resistance and desperate flight, both men reconvened…to discuss their dwindling options. Yolbars chose to head a small party of Uighurs and White Russians in hopes of reaching India via Tibet, while Osman remained behind with a small encampment of sick and injured Kazaks. Yolbars successfully reached India, where Nationalist officials offered to fly him onward to Taiwan. Osman was not so fortunate, meeting his end on the execution grounds of Urumchi in April 1951. More than two thousands Kazaks, however, left Osman behind and eventually settled in Kashmir.

Later that same year, Yolbars Khan arrived in Taipei…the [Taipei government] began to formulate long-term plans for the perpetuation of a Nationalist administration on Taiwan that continued to represent China in world affairs. One of these plans called for the creation of an Office for the Chairman of the Xinjiang Provincial Government (Xinjiang sheng zhengfu zhuxi bangongchu). This office was intended, along with the revival of the Committee for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs (Meng Zang weiyuanhui), to continue to lay claim to the non-Han lands and peoples of China’s northern and western borderlands. Among historians of modern China and Inner Asia, the Committee and its activities are fairly well-known.

The same cannot be said of the Xinjiang government in exile, which was headed by Yolbars Khan until his death in 1971.

There was [however] a competition between Yolbars Khan in Taiwan and Xinjiang refugee leaders Isa and Emin in Turkey to win declarations of loyalty from the thousands of Xinjiang refugees who continued to stream out of China throughout the Mao years.

Justin M. Jacobs is Assistant Professor of History at American University. He is the author of Xinjiang and the Modern Chinese State, available from University of Washington Press.

Appendix

Excerpts from Report and Recommendations by Yolbars Khan on Uighur and Kazak Refugees in the Middle East, 16 July 1956

[Source: 11-04-01-11-02-030, “Xinjiang sheng zhengfu ji Zhongguo huijiao xiehui zhi guomin waijiao huodongi,” West Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Archives of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Obtained by Justin Jacobs and translated by Caixia Lu. Accessible at digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/123645.]

Report

July 16
45th Year of the Republic [1956]

1. Since your humble servant [I] returned from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in the 42nd year of the Republic [1953], I have called on you to present my report once, and it has been two years since I have presented myself in front of you to receive your instruction. On 13 January this year, I was summoned to see you but I happened to be ill thus I was unable to present myself for the meeting. I could only request to call on you in mid-June when I recovered. I wish to report and give suggestion on matters concerning the general conditions of and assistance to Xinjiang refugees overseas over the past year. But I was unable to do so as I had a relapse recently, which has gradually caused me to feel weary. I am afraid that this will be a lingering illness that will not permit me to call on you in the near future, which may delay your decision. Therefore I have compiled my reports and suggestions in writing for your reference and decision.

2. I am a junior official in a remote place and have neither learning nor skill. My only virtue is the determination to serve the party and the country, and I take it upon myself to fulfill Your Excellency’s long-cherished wish. Your Excellency is deeply aware that I have twice given up all my family possessions in aid of the country, and this time round I have even fled thousands of miles to Taiwan without anything. Our family has no choice but to depend on you for everything. Moreover, I have been in ill health all these years and am in constant need of medication. My health has taken a turn for the worse early this year, and I have been bed-ridden for seven months. I spent so much money that I find myself in serious debt, which I am unable to cope with. [For five nights, I wondered in shame?] Your Excellency’s loyal servant is shamelessly abasing himself to receive the charity of others. I would rather be honest with you to demonstrate my wholeheartedness. I urge Your Excellency to report the requests to…[meaning of following part of sentence unclear]

3. I plan to submit my request to call on you when my health improves slightly.

4. I hereby append four items of report, four items of suggestions and two items of requests for your instruction and approval.

Yours respectfully,
Yolbars [Khan]

Outline of Report and Suggestions

A. Items of Report:

1. General conditions of Xinjiang refugees living abroad:

i. General conditions:

Fellow countrymen who are seeking refuge overseas are mainly based in places such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kashmir, and Pakistan. As for the number of refugees in each place, there are about 8000 or so in Saudi Arabia, about 1000 or so in Turkey, about 200 in Kashmir, about 400 in various areas in Pakistan, and about a few dozen people in Cairo. In all, there are about 11,000 people or so. In addition, there are also Xinjiang refugees in various Middle East countries such as Lebanon and Iraq, but there has been no accounting of their numbers, thus it is unclear how many people there are.

This makes the situation very unfavorable to the refugees who have undivided loyalty to our beloved motherland. But few of the refugees in these two countries have wavered all these years, and they have been in close contact with me, and there should not be any fundamental changes to this situation in the future. Refugees in Turkey have obtained citizenship from that country, and their circumstances are special.

ii. On the activities of the so-called “East Turkestan Independence Movement” led by Emin and Isa.

General situation:

Regarding the independence movement led by those such as Emin and Isa, I tried to talk sense into them and counsel them earnestly and sincerely, and have made repeated reports on what transpired.

3. On the situation in Xinjiang after its fall to the bandits:

As the Xinjiang province is in the inaccessible and remote frontier area, it is difficult to know the real situation behind the Bamboo Curtain apart from sporadic reports coming from Kashmir and Pakistan. Little news is being leaked out, except that in July last year [44th year of the Republic], local residents in Hotan were forced by hunger to stop the Communist bandits from transporting food supplies, and a large-scale bloody rebellion ensued. Similar incidents have also occurred in places such as Kashgar. It is proof of how the bandit gang is oppressing the Xinjiang compatriots and shows how the people are unhappy with Communist rule that they have risen in bloody rebellion. Thereafter, the bandit gang had announced the establishment of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region last year, with measures such as giving autonomous rule to the Uighurs in Southern Xinjiang. Based on the reactions of various parties, the compatriots of Xinjiang are very aware of the deceptive ways of the Communist bandits and this has not reduced their enmity toward the Communist bandits in the slightest bit.

4. The various activities of the Communist bandits in the Middle East:

The Communist bandits had originally been shunned by the Middle Eastern countries. For instance during the 42nd year of the Republic, the Hajj delegation sent by the bandit puppet regime to Mecca had already reached Pakistan, but found themselves in the awkward position of having to turn back when Saudi Arabia refused to let them in, which proves the point.

B. Items of Suggestion:

1. Organizing and gaining control of the Xinjiang refugees in various Middle Eastern countries:

Our international position in the Middle East is becoming increasing untenable ever since Egypt recognized the bandit puppet regime. But the shift in diplomatic position of Egypt and other countries seems to be the result of delicate relations caused by Arab-Israeli rivalry and British and French colonial policies, and not because they favor the Communist bandits while being prejudiced against us. Thus, it is not yet impossible to remedy the situation and prevent it from worsening. And we must not allow the conspiracy of Emin and Isa to gain traction. I think that in order to win over the Middle Eastern countries, we must first win over the compatriots in these countries, because they are all Muslims and have the same way of life and the same beliefs as the people in these countries, thus they are able appeal to their emotions and influence their minds. As for the activities of Emin and Isa, if we are to prevent them from achieving anything, our foremost task should also be to fight for the support of our compatriots. Thus it seems necessary to organize and gain control over the Xinjiang refugees in the Middle Eastern countries as soon as possible.

Method of implementation: propose to have the security bureau of the Supreme Defense Council look into and execute this.

2. Step up on publicity and pacification work in the Middle East:

Before we are able to effect measures to organize and gain control of compatriots in the Middle East, in order to achieve timely results, I propose that we should send Hajj pilgrimage and visiting delegations this year in order to prevent compatriots in these countries from feeling doubtful and hesitant.

3. Building of a mosque in Taipei:

The mosque is a place where Muslims pray to Allah, and wherever there are Muslims in the world, there will be magnificent and stately mosques. Since the bandit gang occupied the Mainland, there have also been mosques of significant scale built in Beiping, and they have also set up Islamic institutes in places such as Beiping, Dihua [Urumqi], and Lanzhou, so as to gain popularity by deceiving the people. Since the government shifted to Taipei, there have been many Muslim compatriots who have followed suit. Although there have also been mosques established here, they are all located in civilian homes and are cramped in scale.

Thus I think it is necessary to build a mosque of a sufficient scale. The Muslim compatriots in Taiwan have been thinking about this from very early on but are limited in their financial ability and cannot afford to do so.

4. Selection of exemplary young Muslims to further their studies in Taipei and relax the restrictions to enter Taiwan.

Education and culture not only helps to build a pool of talent for the country, but also play an important role in fostering a sense of mutual trust and unity. Although the government had spoken of grooming talented administrators for the border regions in the past and stipulated preferential rules for young people living in border regions wishing to further their education, attitudes have been a little passive, and those implementing it have not been able to understand the substance of such a policy.

Method of implementation:

i. I propose that the education ministry can draft detailed measures to stipulate that Taiwan’s universities, middle schools, and elementary schools must set aside a number of places for youths from the border regions in order to make it easier for them to study.

ii. Proposal to advise and urge youths from the border regions living overseas to come to Taiwan to study and for the government to provide them with travel fees and all living expenses for the period of study.

5. Please consider the setting up of a special fund to provide overseas temporary relief in a timely manner.

On the issue of providing relief to Xinjiang refugees living overseas, I have been putting in requests to the Executive Yuan and the Chinese Mainland Relief Association to do so for years, and most were collectively processed by region. But the official correspondence goes back and forth for years and the waiting refugees are grumbling. There were fewer cases of issuing small sums of temporary relief. It would seem that this is not practical, and I propose to set up a special fund to provide assistance in a timely manner, so as to bring real benefit.

Method of implementation: I propose to have a lump sum of 2,000 US dollars [enough to help about 130 people whose cases have been processed] or to increase the funding under my management with a temporary sum of assistance at 20,000 New Taiwan dollars per month, the surplus of which would be returned, whereas I would claim with receipts if there is a deficit.

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