Batang uprising

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Batang uprising
Date1905 [1] [2] [3]
Kham's Chiefdom of Batang
Chiefdom of Litang
(present day Sichuan, Batang County;, Yunnan, Dêqên; Weixi and Gongshan County)
Result Qing assertion of authority up to 1911
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 Feng Quan 
Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg Zhao Erfeng [4] [5] [6]
Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg General Wu Yi-chung 
Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg General Ma Weiqi [7] (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 (Chinese :巴塘事變) is an uprising by the Khampas of Kham against the assertion of authority of Qing China.

The uprising began as an opposition to the new policies of land reclamation and limits of monostatic population. The policies were brought by Feng Quan, Qing's assistant imperial resident in Tibet. [8] Feng Quan was murdered soon after. [8] Four French Catholic missionaries, perceived as Qing allies, were beheaded, with one tortured for twelve days before execution. [8] Ten Catholic churches were burned down and a mass of locals converted to Catholicism were killed. [8] Under both French pressure to protect missionaries and domestic pressure to stop the threat of the British invading from the west frontier, [9] Qing's commander Zhao Erfeng led a bloody punitive campaign to quell the uprising in 1906. Zhao brought a political, economic, and cultural reform in Batang and the rest of Kham. [9] Direct rule of Batang under Qing was established until the 1911 Chinese Revolution.


Power structure of Batang

The Batang town in Kham was at the frontier of Qing China where authority was shared between local Kham chiefs and local Tibetan Buddhist monastery. The lamas in the monastery were under the suzerainty of Lhasa, Tibet. While both Kham chiefs and Tibet were under Qing rule, Qing's authority over Tibet was weak.

The role of the British and the Qing

The British invasion of Tibet in 1904 had repercussions in the frontier region between Tibet and China (called "March country" or "Marches"). [10] After the Tibetan army suffered massive losses during the British invasion, intense and sudden Qing intervention within Tibet's frontier east of the Dri River (upper Yangtze river, also called Jinsha) was quickly triggered. The subsequent punitive invasion of Kham in 1905 by Qing forces, following the Batang uprising, effectively opened Tibet's frontier roads to the Qing for their invasion of Lhasa in 1910.

The role of the French missionaries

Tibetan Khampas in the frontier marches are known for their hostility towards outsiders, and for their strong devotion to their monasteries from specific schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and to the Dalai Lamas. [2]

Decades before the Batang uprising, around 1852 the French Catholic Marist missions from Paris Foreign Missions Society, operating under Qing China's protectorate and ushered into Kham's frontier region, were "[d]riven back from the frontier and forced to withdraw to the Western confines of the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan," where they "vegetated for a century within small Christian communities", until expelled by Communist China in 1952. [11] [12] [13]

From 1873 to 1905, there were five attacks on churches (this Batang uprising being the fifth), known as "missionary cases" in historiography. [14] Upon the complaint of the French consul, the Foreign Ministry of Qing settle the cases and gradually got involved into Batang politics. [14]

Feng Quan's reform

Qing China sent Feng Quan as the new Qing's assistant imperial resident in Tibet, [8] stationing at Chamdo. [15] Qing emperor instructed him to develop, assimilate, and bring the Kham regions under strong Qing central control. [16] [17] Feng Quan began initiating land reforms among traditional autonomous polities of kingdoms governed by warrior chiefs, and initiating a reduction to the number of monks, whose monasteries were among the autonomous polities. [18] [19] [2] Feng Quan recruited Chinese soldiers and Sichuan famers to convert idle land in Batang to cultivable land in the hope of attracting settlers. [20]

Batang battles

The Chiefdoms of Batang and Litang and the Tibetan monasteries rose up. 26-27 March 1905 marked the first bloodshed when a handful of Sichuan farmers were killed at the farm. [21] On 6 April, Fengquan was murdered, which the locals justified by claiming him "promoting French military uniform and military marches and therefore must not be a genuine commissioner sent from the Qing". [22]

Compensation of beheaded missionaries

Four French missionaries were beheaded by the locals, including Jean-André Soulié (蘇烈), Henri Mussot (牧守仁), Pierre-Marie Bourdonnec (蒲德元) and Jules Dubernard (余伯南). [8] Among them, Soulié was tortured for twelve days before execution. [8] Ten Catholic churches were burned down and a mass of locals converted to Catholicism were killed. [8] A compensation was reached between the Sichuan government's foreign affairs office (四川洋務局), the French consul in Chengdu and Bishop Pierre-Philippe Giraudeau (倪德隆). [23] Sichuan compensated 121,500 silver tael of silver sycees, which would be paid from the tea tax revenues of Dartsedo town, Sichuan. [23]

Punitive campaign

The Qing Chinese responded to the Batang uprising with a punitive campaign. The Sichuan Army under the command of Chinese General Ma Wei-ch'i was said to launch the first retaliations against the Khampas - Chiefs, Lamas and lay people - at Batang, and against the monastery. [24]

The punitive invasion by Han Bannerman General Zhao Erfeng in Kham is well documented, including the origin of the army's guns, [25] 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. [26] The Prince of Batang was also beheaded for taking part in the uprising. [27]

Monasteries continued to be targeted by Zhao's forces, [28] as did all autonomous polities in Kham as the raids spread and Zhao appointed Qing Chinese officials to positions of authority. [2] [29] 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. [2] Zhao's death [2] 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 Chushi Gangdruk Tibetan guerrilla named Aten gave the his 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 Litang. 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". [30]

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. [31]

The Qing military invasion at Batang attempted to change the power structure in the region fundamentally. [32] The historical system of autonomous polities was also attacked, and the region was briefly under Chinese military occupation, until 1911. [33]

See also

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  15. Feng Quan's immediate predecessor stationed in Lhasa, but Feng Quan was ordered to station in Chamdo, Kham, a town roughly at the mid-point of Lhasa and Sichuan. Xi Liang, the Viceroy of Sichuan, argued to the Qing court that "having a senior official stationed in Kham would restore social order, provide better protection for foreign missionaries, and allow merchants and official communications to pass through the region." See Coleman 2014 , p. 213-215
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