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Ma Shaowu

Ma Shaowu
General Ma Shaowu
Tao-yin of Kashgar
In office
Preceded by Ma Fuxing
Personal details
Born 1874?
Died 1937
Nationality Hui people
Political party Xinjiang clique, Kuomintang
Spouse(s) Single unknown wife
Children Ma Cho-ya
Religion Sufi Jahriyya Islam
Military service
Allegiance Flag of the Qing dynasty Qing dynasty Flag of the Republic of China Republic of China
Years of service 1912-1937
Rank Military commander
Unit Kashgar Garrison
Commands Military commander at Kucha and Tao-yin of Kashgar
Battles/wars Kirghiz rebellion, Kumul Uprising, Battle of Kashgar (1933), Battle of Kashgar (1934)
Ma Shaowu
Traditional Chinese 馬紹武
Simplified Chinese 马绍武

Ma Shaowu (1874–1937) was a Hui born in Yunnan, in Qing dynasty China. He was a member of the Xinjiang clique during the Republic of China.


  • Family history 1
  • Couplet written in Honor of Ma Shaowu by Ma Yuanzhang 2
  • Official in Xinjiang 3
  • Legacy 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Family history

The Jahriyya Sufi leader Ma Yuanzhang was related to the leader of the Dungan revolt, Ma Hualong, which made him related to Ma Shaowu, who was also related to Ma Hualong.

Couplet written in Honor of Ma Shaowu by Ma Yuanzhang

Ten thousand li to pay his respects at the isolated tomb and satisfy the wish of the founding ancestor,
Those that satisfy the wishes of their ancestors are truly filial.
In the home province he built up the embankment in honour of the departed sage,
Not only by showing respect for the departed but in his countenance he is a true worthy descendant.

Official in Xinjiang

He became a military commander in the Qing dynasty army, and in that of the Republic of China. He served as a mandarin official. During Yang Zengxin's reign in Xinjiang, Ma was appointed military commander of Kucha, and then Daotai of Kashgar. His authority extended over all of southern Xinjiang, and he commanded several hundred Hui and Han Chinese soldiers. Brigadier General Yang and Colonel Chin served under him. He was loyal to the Chinese government, and a Muslim.

Ma Shaowu had replaced the fellow Hui Ma Fuxing as Daotai, after shooting him on Yang Zengxin's orders.[2][3][4]

Ma enforced anti Soviet measures and preserved Chinese sovereignty in Xinjiang, when the Soviet Union tried to encroach on Chinese territory.[5] He jailed a Uighur called Akbar Ali, who was employed by the Soviet consulate, for setting off a Uighur riot.[6] The Uighurs were suppressed by 400 Hui troops.[7]

In 1932, Ma crushed a Kirghiz revolt led by Id Mirab, and jailed several Kirghiz fighters including Osman Ali.[8]

When Ma Zhongying invaded the province in 1932, Ma Shaowu, himself a Hui Muslim, commanded predominantly Han Chinese troops against the anti provincial Uighur and Hui forces. He steadily lost control over southern Xinjiang, despite Jin Shuren appointing him as commander in Chief of all Chinese forces in the area, and was panicking, Ma Shaowu sent Han Chinese troops to Khotan and Maral Bashi to fight against the anti provincial forces, he withdrew Chinese troops from Sarikol to Kashgar to reinforce the garrison, and raised levies of Kirghiz.[9][10]

Ma faced an army of Uighurs and Hui from Gansu under the command of Timur Beg and Ma Zhancang, when Ma Zhancang defected to Ma Shaowu after conducting negotiations, and shot and beheaded Timur Beg.[11] Ma Shaowu commanded a Han Chinese garrison, his subordinates included Brigadier General Yang and Colonel Chin. Then all of the Hui Muslim and Han Chinese gathered together and holed up in the yamen, while the Turkic Muslims, the Kirghiz and Uighurs besieged them. At the Battle of Kashgar (1933) the Turkic armies were defeated. During this time Ma Shaowu resigned as Tao-yin of Kashgar. When the independence of the First East Turkestan Republic was declared, the following year, at the Battle of Kashgar (1934) Ma Zhancang and Ma Fuyuan destroyed the Turkic army, massacring over 2,000 Uighurs and attacking the British consulate.[12] Ma Fuyuan and Ma Zhancang then reinstated Ma Shaowu as Tao-yin of Kashgar. In 1934, Ma Shaowu was seriously injured in an assassination attempt ordered by Sheng Shicai. Ma was sent to the Soviet Union for treatment, and recovered but on crutches.[13]

He was walking with his son and wife when the assassination attempt happened. The child was unhurt, the wife slightly wounded, and even though Ma was shot in the legs, he dragged himself into a maize] field. He got home on a donkey, a doctor was summoned, and by the end of summer he was convalescing. Nobody was apprehended by the police for the attack. Two of his fingers were lost.

Ma was interviewed by the traveler Peter Fleming in 1936, shortly after the assassination attempt. Peter also visited the site of assassination where bloodstains were present. He wore a long beige silk robe, had a spittoon and spoke in precise Peking speech. His son's name was Cho-ya. He was then sent to Moscow in the Soviet Union to complete medical treatment. He did not give direct answers, replying through a translator that "I lost my post when, as a result of the troubles, China lost her authority in Kashgar", referring to when he had to resign as taotai.[14] After being sent to Moscow by train, he returned to Ürümqi in 1936. In 1937, during the Xinjiang War (1937), Ma Shaowu was accused by the Soviet puppet Sheng Shicai of being part of a "Fascist-Trotskyite" network, including Khoja Niyas Hajji, Ma Hushan, along with other totally ridiculous claims, which Sheng Shicai used as an excuse to conduct his own purge in Xinjiang along with Joseph Stalin's Great Purge.

Ma Shaowu was killed on Sheng Shicai's orders.[15]


In 2006 Anthony Garnaut was told by Ma Shaowu's son that Ma Shaowu's biography was being written in Kashgar, and the son and his wife live in Urumqi.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ George Roerich, Philip Hamilton McMillan Memorial Publication Fund (1931). Trails to inmost Asia: five years of exploration with the Roerich central Asian expedition. Yale university press. p. 504. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  3. ^ Christian Tyler (2004). Wild West China: the taming of Xinjiang. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. p. 113.  
  4. ^ James A. Millward (2007). Eurasian crossroads: a history of Xinjiang. Columbia University Press. p. 197.  
  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. 66.  
  6. ^
  7. ^ 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. 65.  
  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. 231.  
  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. 77.  
  10. ^ 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. 76.  
  11. ^ Ai-ch'ên Wu, Aichen Wu (1940). Turkistan tumult. Methuen: Methuen. p. 246. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  12. ^ S. Frederick Starr (2004). Xinjiang: China's Muslim borderland. M.E. Sharpe. p. 77.  
  13. ^  
  14. ^  
  15. ^ Li Chang (2006). Maria Roman Sławiński, ed. The modern history of China (illustrated ed.). Księgarnia Akademicka. p. 168.  

External links

  • The Soviets in Xinjiang
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