1905 Tibetan Rebellion

Last updated
1905 Tibetan Rebellion
Date1904/1905-1911 [1] [2]
Kham's Chiefdom of Batang
Chiefdom of Litang
(present day Sichuan,Batang County;, Yunnan,Dêqên; Weixi and Gongshan County)
Result Qing dynasty collapses
Khampa polities of
Chiefdom of Batang
Chiefdom of Litang
Batang monastery
Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg Qing dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Chief of Batang
Chief of Litang

Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg Zhao Erfeng [3] [4] [5]
Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg General Wu Yi-chung 
Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg General Ma Weiqi [6] (Ma Wei-ch'i)


Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg Commandant in Chief Li Chia-jui
Tibetan Khampa tribesmen, Tibetan Chieftain defectors from Qing army Qing military, Green Standard Army, New Army, Eight Banners
Casualties and losses
Unknown Khampa casualities Feng Quan, unknown Qing casualties

The Batang uprising, or the Chinese term Tibetan rebellion of 1905[ citation needed ] (Chinese :巴塘事變) is an uprising by the Khampas of Kham, in Tibet (whose border with China was re-established in 1726 and again in 1865), against Qing China's attempt to control the region. The Qing then led a brutal retaliatory invasion campaign, which continued in Tibet's frontier region until the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

At the Chiefdom of Batang, in Kham, Tibet, the Khampa polities of warrior kingdoms and monastic centers rose up against the Qing amban Feng Quan and Beijing's initiatives of land reforms and reductions in numbers of monks. Qing army commander Zhao Erfeng then led harsh punitive campaigns, which lasted until 1911 and the collapse of the Qing Dynasty.

Batang battles

The British invasion of Lhasa in 1904 had repercussions in the frontier region between Tibet and China. [7] The British invasion also triggered intense and sudden Qing intervention within Tibet's frontier east of the Dri River.

Qing China sent a Manchu amban Feng Quan into Tibet with instructions to develop, assimilate, and bring the Kham regions under strong Qing central control. [8]

Feng Quan began initiating land reforms among traditional autonomous polities, and initiating a reduction to the number of monks, whose monasteries were among the autonomous polities. [9] [10] [1]

The Chiefdom of Batang and the Chiefdom of Litang together with the Khampas and Tibetan monasteries rose up. The uprising began at a monastery in Batang, after which Feng Quan was killed, possibly on 11 March 1905.

The Tibetan Khampas and monks also opposed the Catholic missions ushered into the region by China, while sixty years earlier missionaries were forced out of Tibet and back into China's western frontier region. [11] [12] [13] Other Christian missionaries had already withdrawn from Batang in 1887, [14] before the uprising began. Zhongtian (Chungtien) was the location of the Batang monastery. [15] [16]

Qing's retaliatory invasion

The Qing Chinese responded to the Tibetan Batang uprising with a punitive invasions, called "expeditions". The Sichuan Army under the command of Chinese General Ma Wei-ch'i was said to launch the first retaliations against the Tibetan Khampas - Chiefs, Lamas and lay people - at Batang, and against the monastery. [17]

The punitive invasion by Han Bannerman General Zhao Erfeng in Kham is well documented, including the origin of the army's guns [18] and he was later called "the Butcher of Kham" for his work. Monks and Khampas were subjected to execution, beheadings, and dousings with fire. The monks at Batang reportedly withstood the invasion until 2006, but afterwards they and the monks from Chatring monastery were all killed, and their monasteries were destroyed. [19] The Prince of Batang was also beheaded for taking part in the uprising. [20]

Monasteries continued to be targeted by Zhao's forces, [21] as did all autonomous polities in Kham as the raids spread and Zhao appointed Qing Chinese officials to positions of authority. [1] [22] Zhao's retaliatory invasion in Kham lasted through Qing China's larger invasion of Lhasa in 1910, and on to 1911, when Zhao was killed. [1] Zhao's death [1] was reportedly undertaken by his own men, during the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the rise of Chinese Republican revolutionary forces, around the time of the Xinhai Revolution.

A former Khampa Tibetan guerilla named Aten gave the Tibetan account of the war, where he states the war started in 1903 when the Manchu Qing sent Zhao Erfeng to seize control of Tibetan areas, to control Batang and Lithang. Aten recounted Zhao's destruction of Batang, and said Zhao used holy texts as shoeliners for his troops and that "[m]any Tibetans were executed by decapitation or by another typically Chinese method, mass burial while still alive." Aten also called the Manchus "alien conquerors". [23] [ unreliable source? ]

Beijing author Tsering Woeser has defended the Tibetans in the Batang uprising, saying that Zhao Erfeng invaded the region to "brutally stop Tibetan protests", while listing the atrocities committed by Zhao. [24]

The Qing military invasion at Batang attempted to change the power structure in the region fundamentally. [25] The historic system of autonomous polities was also attacked, and the region was briefly under Chinese military occupation, until 1911. [26]

See also

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