Ma Zhongying

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Ma Chung-ying
Related People

Biography in English

Ma Chung-ying (1911- ? ), Chinese Muslim military leader, took part in the 1931 rebellion of Muslims in Sinkiang against Chinese rule. In 1933 his cavalry forces again attempted to remove Chinese authority from the area, but were pushed into southern Sinkiang by White Russian forces. Ma entered the Soviet Union in July 1934 and disappeared.

Linhsia (Hochow), Kansu, was the native place of Ma Chung-ying. Ma Pu-fang, Ma Pu-ch'ing (qq.v.), and he had the same paternal great-grandfather. Little is known about Ma Chung-ying's early years except that he entered military service in 1924 and that in 1926, at the age of 17, he became a junior officer in the forces commanded by an uncle. Ma Ku-chung. In 1926 Liu Yü-fen, a subordinate of Feng Yü-hsiang (q.v.) who had become governor of Kansu, took action against the Chinese Muslims of his province. In the ensuing fighting. Ma Chung-ying laid siege to and captured Linhsia on his own initiative. Liu Yü-fen ordered the forces of Ma Lin (a great-uncle of Ma Chungying) to suppress the young man, but Ma Chung-ying easily defeated them, thereby winning the nickname "Little Commander." Ma Ku-chung, however, refused to countenance his nephew's insubordination; he dismissed Ma Chung-ying from his army. The younger Ma then retired to the vicinity of Sining and began to build up his own forces.

After Feng Yü-hsiang decided to participate in the final stages of the Northern Expedition and moved many of his troops out of northwest China, the military situation in Kansu deteriorated rapidly. The lack of provincial unity was intensified by drought and famine and by the increasing friction between the Chinese and the Muslims of the province. Ma Chung-ying took advantage of this state of affairs by returning to Kansu during the late months of 1928 and initiating a series of military actions. In the spring of 1929, after several victories, he attempted to win official recognition by petitioning the National Government at Nanking to reorganize his force as a garrison unit to be stationed on the Ninghsia-Suiyuan border in western Inner Mongolia. About this time, Feng Yü-hsiang declared his independence of the National Government, and Han Fu-chü and Ma Chung-ying's relative Ma Hung-k'uei (q.v.) defected to the National Government side. Ma Hung-k'uei's action reinforced Ma Chung-ying's decision to align himself with the National Government. The execution of Ma Chungying's father by order of Liu Yü-fen in the winter of 1929 increased Ma's opposition to Feng Yü-hsiang, but his plans for revenge were curbed by the formation of an alliance between Feng and the Shansi leader Yen Hsi-shan (q.v.). Ma went to Nanking and enrolled at the Nanking Military Academy, but managed to return to his home area later in 1930 as garrison commander at Kanchow (Changyeh), Kansu. Because Ma soon began to recruit troops in an attempt to develop an autonomous base of power, Ku Chu-t'ung (q.v.), then the National Government's pacification commissioner for northwest China, attacked his base and forced him to retreat westward.

In 1931 Ma Chung-ying and his troops challenged the authority of Chin Shu-jen (q.v.) in Sinkiang. With the death of the reigning prince of the khanate of Hami in November 1930, Chin had attempted to take control of this semi-independent Turki principality. The Turki natives rose in rebellion in March 1931 and sent representatives to Kansu to solicit the support of the T'ung-kans [Chinese Muslims], their coreligionists. Ma Chung-ying responded by thrusting into Sinkiang in June 1931 with a cavalry force. That autumn, the Sinkiang provincial forces, composed principally of White Russians who had fled to Sinkiang after the Russian Revolution, repelled Ma Chungying's attack on Hami after savage and bloody fighting. Ma turned southwest to attack Liaotun, where he was wounded in battle. He then withdrew to western Kansu, wheie Ma Pu-fang gave him control over four hsien, with headquarters at Suchow.

After reorganizing his forces. Ma Chung-ying returned to Sinkiang in the spring of 1933 with about 3,000 men. By this time, Chin Shu-jen had fled Sinkiang, and Sheng Shih-ts'ai (q.v.) had assumed power in the province. Ma's forces soon won control of some 1 3 districts in central Sinkiang, including the major oasis center of Turfan, which commanded the eastern approaches to Urumchi. At the beginning of June, Sheng Shih-ts'ai sent a delegation headed by Aitchen Wu to Ma's headquarters to discuss the possibility of holding peace talks. A few days later, Huang Mu-sung (q.v.), who had been appointed pacification commissioner of Sinkiang by the National Government, arrived in Urumchi. His efforts served only to aggravate the situation, and Sheng and Ma returned to the battlefield. In September, Lo Wen-kan, the minister of foreign affairs at Nanking, visited both Urumchi and Turfan in an unsuccessful attempt to restore peace to Sinkiang.

During the second half of 1933 Ma Chungying and his associates extended their operations in the Tarim basin of southern Sinkiang, where their troops aroused the antagonism of the Turki natives by looting and plundering. Ma launched an attack on Urumchi in December 1933 and pressed forward during the early weeks of 1934. However, Soviet military units entered Sinkiang to support the rule of Sheng Shih-ts'ai, and they easily overcame Ma's forces, causing them to flee westward to Kashgar. In July 1934 Ma transferred command of his remaining troops to his brother-inlaw Ma Hu-shan, crossed the border at Irkeshtam with several of his senior officers, and disappeared into the Soviet Union. His party reportedly was accompanied by Russian officials who had been stationed in Sinkiang. The circumstances of Ma's disappearance remained obscure. Press reports in the summer of 1934 stated that the Russians had interned him at Tashkent and had refused the Sinkiang government's extradition requests. In 1935 an article in the Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, published in London, stated that Ma had "died on arrival at Moscow." Another story was that Sheng Shih-ts'ai, when visiting Stalin in 1938, demanded the liquidation of his former antagonist and that Ma was executed in the spring of 1939.

Descriptions of Ma Chung-ying and reports of his actions also vary widely. The Swedish explorer Sven Hedin, although he never met Ma, presented a vivid account of his actions and the devastation of eastern Sinkiang in The Flight of Big Horse, published in 1936. Other writers described Ma as a man of great personal bravery who was obsessed with the idea of creating a unified and independent Muslim state in northwest China and with dreams of foreign conquest.

Biography in Chinese


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