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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Causes of Han-Hui conflicts in the 1840's in Yongchang, Western Yunnan Fox, Pamela


Muslim unrest and rebellion plagued nineteenth century China. Conflicts between Han Chinese and Hui (Muslims) in Yunnan flared up continuously throughout the first half of the nineteenth century culminating in the eighteen year Panthay Rebellion (1855-1873). The purpose of this study is to ascertain the causes of Han-Hui conflicts in one prefecture, Yongchang, in western Yunnan in the 1840's. Examination of the events in Yongchang during this period does provide as well, some Insight Into the causes of Han-Hui conflicts in Yunnan In general. Documents written by Qing officials, at the central, provincial and local levels, as well as local histories and a few documents written by Muslims, are examined in order to determine the causative factors of Han-Hui conflicts In Yongchang. The findings of this thesis suggest that deteriorating socioeconomic conditions in Yunnan and China, combined with the frontier environment and the mentality that it created exacerbated existing ethnic tensions between Han and Hui to the point of open conflict. Yongchang during the 1840's was a hotbed of ethnic strife. Ethnic tensions between Han and Hui existed In Yongchang, and Yunnan, long before the nineteenth century. Religious and social customs set the Muslim population apart from the Han. There were distinct differences between Han and Hui and both groups wished to maintain strong ethnic boundaries. Under relatively prosperous economic conditions Han and Hui appear to have been able to co-exist with only minor hostilities. During the nineteenth century, however, the economy of Yunnan was in a state of decline and the population, due to immigration from China proper, had almost tripled. The resources of Yunnan were overtaxed. Competition for jobs and arable land became intense. Secret societies, banditry and anti-Muslim militia flourished in Yongchang. These conditions, coupled with a weak and inefficient local government, exacerbated already tense relations between Han and Hui. Open conflict was the result.

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