CHAPTER THREE The Kashgar Crisis

AT the end of 1879 the Governor of Hongkong wrote to Sir Thomas Wade that, according to the bestinformed people in the colony, "we may look forward with confidence to a prosperous and quiet 1880".1 The bestinformed people of Hongkong were to prove, as not unseldom happened, mistaken.

During 1876 and 1877 the army of General Tso was making its way through the north-western deserts towards the reconquest of Chinese Turkestan, lost to the Empire by rebellion and the usurpation of Yakoub Beg. On 16 March 1878, the Peking Gazette was at last able to announce that Tso's operations were complete. The Emperor worshipped and burned incense in the temples of the Forbidden City; and a Decree conveyed to all loyal subjects the pleasing intelligence that four rebel leaders had been made an example of by being cut in pieces, and eleven hundred of the commonalty had suffered decapitation.2

These arrangements having been adjusted, the question which placed itself on the agenda of Far Eastern history was: Whether Russia was to hand over, or be allowed to retain, the Kulja province in western Sinkiang, occupied "temporarily" by her during the anarchy in which Chinese rule had foundered.

The circumstances resembled those after the Boxer Rebellion when the Russians were discovered in possession of Manchuria. The steady oozing of Russian soldiery across Asia was in progress, and there seemed little reason to expect the release of any area once submerged. Kulja had large mineral and oil deposits, and could be made a rich producer of cotton. Its soil was

____________________
1
Governor Hennessey to Wade, 16.12. 79), with Col. Off. to F.O. 30.1. 80), 17. 845
2
Frazer (Chargé, Peking) 57, 23.3.78, 17. 826

-38-

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British Diplomacy in China, 1880 to 1885
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