History of Ningxia Hui AR - Warlord Era and Red Revolution
NingXia Hui AR of China
In the Period from 1921 AD to 1928 AD one Ma Hongbin, a brother in the infamous Ma Clique of Warlords was the de-facto Ruler of Ningxia Province. When in 1928 Most parts of the Nation were once more -re-united under the National Government of the Kuomintang, led by Devious Generalissimo Chiang-Kai Shek (蒋中正 or 蒋介石;), Ma Hongbin decided it was best to -at least nominally- cooperate with the Kuomintang Government in Nanjing (later Chongqing). Thus, in 1930 AD he found himself carrying the Title of Chairman of the Government of Ningxia Province, and still very much in control. To reduce Ma powers over Ningxia the National Government than gave him a function in Gansu where he held onto Power until saving his neck by defecting to the Communist side with his entire army (the 81st Corps) just prior to the decisive battle for Lanzhou in 1949 AD.
In the year 1923 A.D. Yinchuan and Ningxia saw the passing of what would become known as the Wulsin National Geographic Mission. Inspired by the travels of Roy Chapman Andrews, who had found amazing fossils in the Gobi Desert of Inner-
In 1914 the Ningxia Territory briefly became a part of of Gansu Province but this situation was reversed in 1928 AD by the Kuomintang Nationalist Government under Leadership of Chiang Kai-Chek (Jiang Jieshi). At the time it was (re)constituted as the province of Ningxia.
In 1920 AD Ningxia was struck by a terrible Earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter Scale. The Event is now known as the Haiyuan earthquake (Chinese: 海原大地震; Pinyin: Hǎiyuán dà dìzhèn) but also as the 1920 AD Gansu Earthquake due to the fact that at the time Ningxia Region was an administrative part of Gansu Province. It struck unexpectedly on December the 16th of 1920 AD. Over 73,000 people were killed in Haiyuan County alone. More than 30,000 people were killed in Guyuan City and Prefecture. Nearly all the houses collapsed in the cities of Longde and Huining in the vicinity of Guyuan in the extreme South of today's Ningxia Hui AR. Yinchuan (Ningxia Fu at the Time) was also Hit by the Force of the Earths Tremors. According to records a landslide buried the village of Sujiahe in Xiji County killing nearly all inhabitants. Over
During the ending months of 1935 AD and in early 1936 AD Ningxia saw the so-called Ningxia Campaign, a part of the Long March gone badly wrong.
Although official sources often claim communist victory in the Ningxia Campaign of 1936 AD, in reality the People’s Liberation Army lost its strongest units -nearly the entire 4Th Red Army- in a useless battle with the armies of the Ma clan of Warlords that held control over Ningxia and parts of Gansu Province. Several historic events, records, statements and documents point to the fact that the Ningxia Campaign arose from a split within the highest regions of the Communist Party and its Army, and the Ningxia Campaign ended with the convenient disposal of Mao Zedong's main rival for Central Control over the entire movement, one Zhang Guotai.
Although eventually militarily of little consequence the political events leading up to the Campaign were crucial in the shaping of The Peoples Republic of China under leadership of Mao Zedong
By the year 1939 Japanese Forces had penetrated well into Inner-Mongolia and the north-east of China putting them, seemingly in position to attack Ningxia. The Japanese plan was to take Ningxia and split it away from China proper as a Hui Islamic Autonomous State, naturally with full support from the Japanese Empire. If the plan was succesful, the Japanese could then try to contact "authorities in Tibet" with generally the same plan.
However, it was not to be. Severly hindered due to the dilapidated and sparse roads, a lack of railroad connections west of Shanxi Province and the difficult navigation of the only available route in; the Yellow River (Huang He) Japanese Forces were never able to control Ningxia and adjacent regions. The regions were simply not ready for mechanized warfare, and a large role fell to cavalry armies. This was a point of expertise that the Hui knew all about. After the initial Japanese advanced struggled to get into Ningxia at all, in the next year, 1940 A.D. Japanese Forces were utterly defeated by the Kuomintang Muslim General Ma Hongbin leaving the Japanese plan in tatters. In subsequent years, the Hui Warlords and their troops would prove to be worthy adversaries with a tenacity unusual to the Chinese proper. Mainly due to the work of anti-Japanese Imams such as Hu Songshan, there was a "Holy War" on against the Japanese, which meant that they could bribe few of the Hui into cooperation. Not that they did not try. Throughout what had become World War 2 (1939 A.D. - 1945 A.D. officially) Japanese Agents would try to "get to" General Ma Hongbin, but described him as thoroughly uncooperative. Among things the Hui prevented the Japanese from establishing contact with Tibet.
Another Ningxia Campaign was fought after the Japanese surrender of August 1949 AD and subsequent outbreak of Civil War. This (2nd) Ningxia Campaign involved battles between troops of Nationalist Warlords of the Ma Clique and advancing Troops of the Red Army.
The nationalists organized three lines of defense in the regions of Ningxia and Gansu Province, including around the Towns Zhongwei, Lingwu, Tongxin (同心), Jingyuan (靖远), Jingtai (景泰), Zhongning (中宁) and Jinji (金积) in Ningxia. In total they had deployed over a hundred sixty thousand troops for the upcoming campaign however, as before, the Nationalists lost the battle through intrigue, distrust among the ranks, and finally betrayal.
On September 24, 1949, the communist XIX Corps entered Yinchuan without a fight and the campaign concluded with communist victory. Nationalist lost over 40,000 troops out of the original 75,000, while the remaining deserted, and the communist victory ended the 36-year rule of Ma clique in Ningxia, as well as the nationalist rule over the region.
In the aftermath however, independent armed Muslim Rebels would take the mountains and plains in defiance of Communist Laws and domination (See: ’History of Islam in China’).
Mongolia, the Wulsins resolved to travel to China as well. From 1921 to 1925, the Wulsin couple, with a grant from the National Geographic Society, mounted expeditions to the far reaches of China, Tibet, and Inner- and Outer Mongolia in order to scientifically study the people, flora, and fauna of the regions. It would take them until the year 1923 to reach Ningxia through which region they passed from North to South, traversing through the gap of the Juicaigou Great Wall of China to Yinchuan, and from this thriving trading city along the west bank of the Yellow River to Zhongwei. The route left Ningxia via Gantang Zhen at the Gansu Provincial border. Famously, the Wulsin "bandwagon" took 28 camels, six horses, four Mongolian camel drivers and 10 Chinese "specimen collectors" to make it through the many difficulties found along the route. After making it into Eastern Tibet and reaching Xining, the Wulsin's made it back to Lanzhou and transferred to a raft for their return journey.
Altogether, the Wulsins collected 1,400 botanical and zoological specimens, and are equally credited to have brought back many 100's of unique photographs and documented Buddhist rituals. They also took hundreds of photographs of now destroyed Tibetan Temples, documented tribespeople and desert landscapes.
In 1926, National Geographic published one account of their expeditions, but Janet's considerable and scientically and historically worthy contributions went uncredited. Stray newspaper articles in the United States were often misleading or inaccurate about her significant role. The Wulsins returned to the United States in 1925, and later divorced. Elliott remarried Richard Hobart, a banker and collector of Chinese art.
Janet's role in her first husband's expeditions went largely uncredited until after her death in 1963, when her daughter, Mabel Cabot, found her mother's private letters and diaries and published Vanished Kingdoms (ISBN 0-641-68638-2), a biographical account of Janet's explorations featuring many of the magnificent black & white images taken during the long years of the mission. These photos remain among the very few recorded in these regions at the time.
During the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45) parts of Ningxia were incorporated into the Shaan-Gan-Ning border region (better known as the Ningxia-Hopei-Chahar Region).
Lying protected by many natural bariers and the lack of proper roads, Ningxia was for the time being protected from a full scale Japanese Military assault. While large scale Wars were still raging across the regions to the North and to the East, the main military threat in the Ningxia Region came from Japanese Aircraft not their mechanized armies. They could not penetrate there, or, of they did they could not hold on to the land. For this reason, it was in Shaanxi that a last Communist Soviet was in function, and this then was the Ningxia-Hopei-Chahar border region where -after their arrival from the Long March in 1936 AD- the Chinese Communist Party founded their new (and only) Communist Base Area.
Although support from the local peasantry was traditionally strong in other rural area's throughout China, in Ningxia -among the Muslims- enthusiasm for the Chinese Communist Party was far less high. The Communists usually appealed to local ethnic groups for support by proclaiming respect for their cultural and religious habits and promises of equality and far reaching political rights. However, although some Hui leaders joined the communists and rose to positions of influence in the Red Army and Party, most members of the then dominant Hui Ethnic Group distrusted these promises and were far more interested in their own independence through the ruling of their Leading Ma Clan (Ma=Horse, is a common name among the Hui) of Warlords, known in China as the Xibei San Ma brothers (literally "three Ma's of the northwest").