HIS207-Final Project – Yakub Beg’s Internal Policy and the Relationship with the Ottoman Empire

Yakub Beg tried to build his regime as a Muslim-nation state and carried out strict rules that caused dissatisfaction from the locals. Besides, the Ottoman Empire was struggling as well and could not provide enough support for him.

According to the book “The Life of Yakoob Beg, Athalik Ghazi, and Badaulet; Ameer of Kashgar” by Demetrius Charles Boulger, Yakub Beg was not a “good” leader that cares about local development of his state as much as Qing government. The Qing government, in order to encourage the trading there, paid attention to maintain the fairness among different ethnic groups. Whether they’re the traders from other provinces of China or Kokand or Afghanistan, they were under the same competition rules. The Amban there also tried to avoid using violence but using fair arbitration to mediate conflicts. Thanks to these kinds of not discriminated policies, the population of Xinjiang grew fast. Because of the growth of population, the government did not need many items of taxes to collect enough money for infrastructures. The three main taxes were for the trading of agriculture, animal husbandry products and housing. With this amount of money, more canals had been built for promoting the agriculture, more mines had been built for improving trading. Even the most difficult task, transportation, have been improved. There were more roads between the major cities and each city has institutions for managing roads.

However, the policies under Yakub Beg was completely different from Qing. His policy was based on Sharia, the religious law came from the Quran. It was common the governor using violence to punish people who break the law, such as flogging or mutilation or torture. He also carried out strict curfew. People who wanding during the curfew would be arrested. Yakub Beg even considers the Dungan doctrine was inconsistent with the Sharia. He brought up a group of religious leaders and secret polices execute his intolerant policies. People cannot hold bazaar during the weekdays, only the weekend was allowed. The traveling was also restricted by Yakub Beg. If people want to travel to places other than Kohand or Mecca, they would be imposed fine. One of the local Kashgaris, a warrior and a chieftain’s son, commenting: “During the Chinese rule there was everything; there is nothing now.” (Boulger 152) Because of the falling-off in trade, Yakub Beg had to carry out terrible taxes to maintain his military expands. For example, every land, except the land owned by Islamic leaders, had to pay tax. Sharecroppers pay taxes to the government and hand over 3/4 of the net harvest to landlords as rent, which means not many sharecroppers could live a rich life. The infrastructure projects were also abandoned by Yakub Beg. Overall, he was “disliked” by the local Muslim because of intolerant religious rules, heavy taxes, and endless war, not to say building a new national identity for his people.

There are some photos that a Britain shoot that shows how Yakub Beg’s state looks like in two towns: Yarkand and Kashgar. On the website, the catalog note mentions a quotation from an article “Strolling About on the Roof of the World” by Leach and Farrington. “These were the first to be taken of ‘native’ society in Chinese Turkestan, and are of considerable historical and ethnographic interest.” (Leach) In 1869, Yakub Beg wishing to establish good relations between his country and British, so he sent an envoy to the viceroy of India to request that a British officer might be deputed to visit him. After six months, the photographer, Sir Douglas Forsyth, and the British envoy came, for acquiring more information about the people of Yakub Beg’s state. The photographer was given permission to travel freely in the area. The photos captured empty streets and soldiers who hold guns, instead of busy shopping streets or farmland that supposed to be there. No women were shot there, maybe because of the strict Sharia law.

PHOTOGRAPHS OF YARKAND AND KASHGAR. [1873-1874] – 3
PHOTOGRAPHS OF YARKAND AND KASHGAR. [1873-1874] – 1
PHOTOGRAPHS OF YARKAND AND KASHGAR. [1873-1874] -2
PHOTOGRAPHS OF YARKAND AND KASHGAR. [1873-1874] -4
Yakub Beg carried out the strict religious policy because he wanted to gain recognition from the Ottoman Sultan. He sent envoys to Istanbul several times, and the Ottoman Sultan gave him the title of Amir of Kashgaria, which was an aristocratic or noble title of high office used in the middle east, implying they recognized his regime. Yakub Beg himself was “the only Muslim ruler to attempt to use the Caliphate to create Muslim unity within his state and secure its survival as an independent entity.” Unfortunately, Ottoman Empire was struggling between the western imperialist powers and did not give Yakub Beg enough military support as well. Besides, many states that between the Ottoman Empire and Kashgaria had been occupied by Russia already, the long distance and barrier made the supporting almost impossible.

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