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Traitors on the Borderlands: a Muslim Perspective on the Xinhai Revolution

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image of Inner Asia

In the wake of the Wuchang uprising, the first major town in the Northwest to fall to the revolutionaries was Lingzhou, in Ningxia prefecture, Gansu. The reign of the ‘Han Restoration Army of Lingzhou’ lasted for several weeks, when it was crushed by a predominantly Muslim, loyalist militia force. Several sources on the Lingzhou uprising describe the execution of three Muslim ‘traitors’ who were aligned with the revolutionaries. This article explores the cause that these ‘traitors’ betrayed in the eyes of their Muslim executioners. For at least one of the authors of these sources, the worst possible act of betrayal was to turn away from the true shaykh of the age. To understand the significance of this type of betrayal, the article turns back to the Muslim rebellion of the Tongzhi reign (1862–1874) and its aftermath. The main parties to the violence that occurred in Lingzhou in 1911 formulated their actions in response to local events of the recent past, and these local perspectives open up a wide range of interpretations of the significance of the Xinhai revolution.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford, UK


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