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شەرقىي تۈركىستان جۇمھۇرىيىتى
East Turkestan Republic

1944 - 1949


Capital Ghulja
Language(s) Uyghur, Kazakh,Chinese
Government Islamic Republic
 - Established 1944
 - Disestablished 1949
Currency som

The Second East Turkestan Republic, usually known simply as the East Turkestan Republic (ETR), was a short-lived Soviet-backed Turkic people's republic which existed in the 1940s (November 12, 1944 - October 20, 1949) in three northern districts (Ili, Tarbaghatai, Altai) of Xinjiang province of the Republic of China, what is now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.

Ili, Tarbagatay and Altay Districts of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of People's Republic of China



From 1934 to 1941 Xinjiang was under the influence of the Soviet Union in a way similar to Outer Mongolia. The local warlord Sheng Shicai was dependent on the Soviet Union for military support and trade. The Soviet government kept a regiment of soldiers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs at Kumul beginning in October, 1937 in order to prevent the possible offensive from the Japanese Army into Sinkiang through Inner Mongolia. And, in exchange, was allowed concessions for oil wells, tin and wolfram mines, as well as conducting trade on terms highly favorable to the USSR.

On November 26 1940, Sheng Shicai concluded an Agreement, granting USSR additional concessions in the whole province of Sinkiang for 50 years, including areas bordering with India and Tibet, and virtually turning Sinkiang under full political and economical control of the USSR, making it part of China in name only (as Sheng Shicai himself recalled in his Memoirs "Red failure in Sinkiang", published by the University of Michigan in 1958, the pressure from Stalin on him in 1940 was so hard that refusal to sign this secret Agreement of Concessions in 17 articles, prepared by Stalin himself, would resulted in Sinkiang sharing the same fate as Poland, as he was explained by Soviet representatives in Urumchi Bakulin and Karpov). Following this Agreement a large-scale geological exploration expeditions were sent by Soviets to Sinkiang in 1940-1941 and large deposits of diverse mineral resources, including uranium and beryllium (ores of both minerals were being delivered later from Sinkiang Altai mines to USSR until end of 1949 and used in nuclear weapon design and creating of the first Soviet atomic bomb ) in the mountains near Kashgar and in Altai region, were discovered.

Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and the entry of the United States into the war in December 1941, the Soviet Union became far less attractive, and the Kuomintang far more attractive as a patron. At the end of 1942 Sheng demanded that the Soviet Union withdraw all military forces and political officers from Xinjiang. In 1943 Sheng was appointed the head of the Kuomintang branch in Xinjiang and allowed Kuomintang cadres into the province. In summer of 1944, following the German defeat at Eastern Front, he attempted to reassert control over Xinjiang and turned to the Soviet Union for support once more. This time Stalin refused to deal with him and the Kuomintang in August, 1944 removed him from the province by appointing him to a low-level post in the Ministry of Forestry in Chongqing.


Following Sheng Shicai's departure from Xinjiang, the new Kuomintang administration had increasing trouble maintaining law and order. On September 16, 1944, troops that had been sent to Gongha county, a majority Kazak region, were unable to contain a group of rioters. By October 8, the rioters had captured Nilka, the county seat. During October the Three District Rebellion broke out generally south of Ghulja in the Ili, Altay and Tarbagatay districts of northern Xinjiang. Aided by the Soviet Union, and backed by a number of Xinjiang exiles trained in the Soviet Union, the rebels quickly established control over the three districts, capturing Ghulja in November. The ethnic Chinese population of the region was reduced by massacre and expulsion. According to United States consular officials the Islamic scholar Elihan Töre declared a "Turkistan Islam Government" declaring:

"The Turkestan Islam Government is organized: praise be to Allah for his manifold blessings! Allah be praised! The aid of Allah has given us the heroism to overthrow the government of the oppressor Chinese. But even if we have set ourselves free, can it be pleasing in the sight of our God if we only stand and watch while you, our brethren in religion ... still bear the bloody grievance of subjection to the black politics of the oppressor Government of the savage Chinese? Certainly our God would not be satisfied. We will not throw down our arms until we have made you free from the five bloody fingers of the Chinese oppressors' power, nor until the very roots of the Chinese oppressors' government have dried and died away from the face of the earth of East Turkestan, which we have inherited as our native land from our fathers and our grandfathers."

The demands of the rebels included an end to Chinese rule, equality for all nationalities, recognised use of local languages, friendly relations with the Soviet Union, and opposition to Chinese immigration into Xinjiang. The military forces available to the rebellion were the newly formed Ili National Army, which included mostly Uighur, Kazakh and White Russian soldiers (around 25,000 troops, armed and trained by the Soviet Union, strengthened with regular Red Army units), and a group of Kazak Karai tribesmen under the command of Osman Batur ( up to 20,000 horsemen ). The Kazaks expanded to the north, while the INA expanded to the south. By September 1945, the Kuomintang Army and the INA occupied positions on either side of the Manas River near Ürümqi. By this time the ETR held Zungaria while the Kuomintang held the mainly Uyghur-inhabited parts of southern Xinjiang.

Negotiations, and the Qualitional Government in Ürümchi

In August 1945 China signed a Treaty of Friendship and Alliance granting the Soviet Union a range of concessions the US had promised at the Yalta conference. This ended overt Soviet support for the East Turkistan Republic. The Kuomintang reached a negotiated settlement with the leaders of the ETR in July 1946. In effect little changed. The ETR remained a de facto separate pro-Soviet state with their own currency and military forces. Political activity in the Republic was limited to the Union for the Defense of Peace and Democracy, a party on the Leninist one-party model. Kuomintang officials were prohibited from the Three Districts and in return the Kuomintang actively supported opposition politicians. By this time these included Elihan Töre who disappeared visiting the Soviet Union and the Kazak leader Osman Batur who broke with the other rebels when their pro-Soviet orientation became clear. The Kuomintang appointed several important Uyghurs as advisors to the Xinjiang administration and made Ehmetjan Qasim, the leader of the ETR, Provincial Vice-Chairman.

Break of the Qualition

Abolition of the East Turkestan Republic

Towards the end of 1949 the advancing People's Liberation Army crossed the Yangtze River and cut off the Kuomintang administration in southern Xinjiang. Some Kuomintang officials fled to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, but most surrendered to the Communist Party of China. This "peaceful liberation" of Xinjiang was complete by the end of October 1949 however Osman Batur and his Kazakhs continued to resist until 1954. In July 1949 the Party sent Deng Lichun to negotiate with the ETR's leadership in Ghulja (Yining in Chinese). Mao Zedong invited the leaders of the ETR to take part in the National People's Consultative Conference later that year. The leaders of the ETR travelled to the Soviet Union, where they were told to co-operate with the Communist Party of China. In August Ehmetjan Qasim, Abdulkerim Abbas, Ishaq Beg, Luo Zhi and Delilhan Sugurbayev boarded a plane in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, headed for Beijing. On 3 September, the Soviet Union informed the Chinese government that the plane had crashed, killing all on-board. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, former KGB leaders revealed that five top ETR leaders were killed on Stalin's orders in Moscow in late August 1949, in accordance with a deal between Stalin and China's communist leader Mao Zedong[1], however this allegation has never been confirmed. Stripped of their more experienced leaders, the remaining important figures in the ETR agreed to incorporate the three districts into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and accept important positions within the administration.

The Constitution of the Republic

National Army

The development of literature, fine arts and sports during the Republic

The currency during the Republic


See also



  • Burhan S., Xinjiang wushi nian [Fifty Years in Xinjiang], (Beijing, Wenshi ziliao, 1984).
  • Clubb, O. E., China and Russia: The 'Great Game’. (NY, Columbia, 1971).
  • Forbes, A. D. W. Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of Republic Sinkiang, 1911-1949 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1986).
  • Hasiotis, A. C. Jr. Soviet Political, Economic and Military Involvement in Sinkiang from 1928 to 1949 (NY, Garland, 1987).
  • Khakimbaev A. A., 'Nekotorye Osobennosti Natsional’no-Osvoboditel’nogo Dvizheniya Narodov Sin’tszyana v 30-kh i 40-kh godakh XX veka' [Some Characters of the National-Liberation Movement of the Xinjiang Peoples in 1930s and 1940s], in Materially Mezhdunarodnoi Konferentsii po Problemam Istorii Kitaya v Noveishchee Vremya, Aprel’ 1977, Problemy Kitaya (Moscow, 1978) pp. 113–118.
  • Kotov, K. F., Mestnaya Natsional'nya Avtonomiya v Kitaiskoi Narodnoi Respublike—Na Primere Sin'tszyansko-Uigurskoi Avtonomoi Oblasti, [Autonomy of Local Nationalities in the Chinese People's Republic, as an Example of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region], (Moscow, Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’stvo Yuridichekoi Literaturi, 1959).
  • Kutlukov, M., 'Natsionlal’no-Osvoboditel’noe Dvizhenie 1944-1949 gg. v Sin’tszyane kak Sostavnaya Chast’ Kitaiskoi Narodnoi Revolyutsii', [The National-Liberation Movement of 1944-1949 in Xinjiang as a Part of the People’s Revolution in China], in Sbornik Pabot Aspirantov, Otdelenie Obshchestvennykh Hauk, AN UzbSSR, Bypusk 2 (Tashkent, 1958) pp. 261–304.
  • Lattimore, O., Pivot of Asia: Sinkiang and the Inner Asian Frontiers of China (Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1950).
  • Mingulov, N. N., 'Narody Sin’tszyana v Bop’be za Ustanovlenue Harodnoi Demokratii 1944-1949 gg.', [The Xinjiang Peoples in Struggle for Establishment of People’s Democracy, 1944-1949], (Abstract of Dissertation in Moscow National University, 1956).

  • 'Natsionlal’no-Osvoboditel’noe Dvizhenie Narodov Sin’tszyana kak Sostavnaya Chast’ *Obshchekitaiskoi Revolyutsii (1944-1949 gody)', [The National-Liberation Movement of the Peoples in Xinjiang in 1944-1949 as a Part of the People’s Revolution in China], in Trudi: Instituta Istorii, Arkheologii i Etnografii, Tom 15 (Alma-Ata, 1962) pp. 68–102.
  • Rakhimov, T. R. 'Mesto Bostochno-Turkestanskoi Respubliki (VTR) v Natsional’no-Osvoboditel’noi Bor’be Narodov Kitaya' [Role of the Eastern Turkestan Republic (ETR) in the National Liberation Struggle of the Peoples in China], A paper presented at 2-ya Nauchnaya Konferentsiya po Problemam Istorii Kitaya v Noveishchee Vremya, (Moscow, 1977), pp. 68–70.
  • Saviskii, A. P. 'Sin’tszyan kak Platsdarm Inostrannoi Interventsii v Srednei Azii', [Xinjiang as a Base for Foreign Invasion into Central Asia], (Abstract of Dissertation in the Academy of Science, the Uzbekstan SSR), (AN UzbSSR, Tashkent, 1955).
  • Taipov, Z. T., V Bor'be za Svobodu [In the Struggle for Freedom], (Moscow, Glavnaya Redaktsiya Vostochnoi Literaturi Izdatel'stvo Nauka, 1974).
  • Wang, D., 'The Xinjiang Question of the 1940s: the Story behind the Sino-Soviet Treaty of August 1945', Asian Studies Review, vol. 21, no.1 (1997) pp. 83–105.

  • 'The USSR and the Establishment of the Eastern Turkestan Republic in Xinjiang', Journal of Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, vol.25 (1996) pp. 337–378.
  • Yakovlev, A. G., 'K Voprosy o Natsional’no-Osvoboditel’nom Dvizhenii Norodov Sin’tzyana v 1944-1949', [Question on the National Liberation Movement of the Peoples in Xinjiang in 1944-1945], in Uchenie Zapiski Instituta Voctokovedeniia Kitaiskii Spornik vol.xi, (1955) pp. 155–188.
  • Wang, David D. Under the Soviet shadow: the Yining Incident : ethnic conflicts and international rivalry in Xinjiang, 1944-1949》Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1999.
  • Wang, David D.《Clouds over Tianshan: essays on social disturbance in Xinjiang in the 1940s》Copenhagen: NIAS, 1999.
  • Benson, Linda, The Ili Rebellion: The Moslem challenge to Chinese authority in Xinjiang, 1944-1949, Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1990. ISBN 0-87332-509-5
  • James A. Millward and Nabijan Tursun, "Political History and Strategies of Control, 1884-1978" in Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland (ISBN 0-7656-1318-2).


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