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This CWIHP e-Dossier was made possible through the generous support of the Chun & Jane Chiu Family Foundation.

CWIHP e-Dossier No. 73

The Xinjiang Exile Government in Taiwan, 1954-1969

By Justin Jacobs
May 2016

In September 1949, prominent Nationalist officials posted to the far northwestern province of Xinjiang surrendered to the Chinese Communists without a fight. The approximately 71,000 Nationalist soldiers still stationed in Xinjiang—most of them Han Chinese—laid down their weapons and allowed the People’s Liberation Army to march into the province uncontested. Contrary to appearances, however, the battle for Xinjiang had only just begun.

Guerilla resistance movements soon broke out among several Uighur and Kazak groups, the most prominent of which were headed by Osman Batur, a Kazak chieftain from Altay, and Yolbars Khan, a Uighur official in Hami. After more than a year of sporadic resistance and desperate flight, both men reconvened on the Qinghai plateau to discuss their dwindling options. Yolbars chose to head a small party of Uighurs and White Russians in hopes of reaching India via Tibet, while Osman remained behind with a small encampment of sick and injured Kazaks. Yolbars successfully reached India, where Nationalist officials offered to fly him onward to Taiwan. Osman was not so fortunate, meeting his end on the execution grounds of Urumchi in April 1951. More than two thousands Kazaks, however, left Osman behind and eventually settled in Kashmir.

Later that same year, Yolbars Khan arrived in Taipei. With the Korean War in full swing, the Nationalists began to formulate long-term plans for the perpetuation of a Nationalist administration on Taiwan that continued to represent China in world affairs. One of these plans called for the creation of an Office for the Chairman of the Xinjiang Provincial Government (Xinjiang sheng zhengfu zhuxi bangongchu). This office was intended, along with the revival of the Committee for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs (Meng Zang weiyuanhui), to continue to lay claim to the non-Han lands and peoples of China’s northern and western borderlands. Among historians of modern China and Inner Asia, the Committee and its activities are fairly well-known. The same cannot be said of the Xinjiang government in exile, which was headed by Yolbars Khan until his death in 1971. Though there have been a few studies of the 1,734 Kazaks who eventually relocated to Turkey from Kashmir, these were based largely on oral interviews carried out with the descendants of the original migrants during the 1980s. It was only when I began to explore the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Taiwan while conducting research for my book on the ethnopolitical history of modern Xinjiang that I discovered an official documentary trail for what ultimately became a Cold War propaganda battle for the hearts and minds of Uighur and Kazak refugees throughout South Asia and the Middle East.

Xinjiang and the Modern Chinese State (University of Washington Press, 2016).

In my book,Xinjiang and the Modern Chinese State (University of Washington Press, 2016), I show that the implementation of new affirmative action policies adapted from the Soviet Union in Communist Xinjiang during the 1950s was by and large a failure. Widespread discontent toward the ethnic policies of the People’s Republic of China quickly took root among the newly formed urban Uighur, Kazak, and Hui labor force in Urumchi. With such evident unrest simmering among Communist China’s Muslim minorities from such an early date, how is it that only the plight of the Tibetans received consistent and sympathetic treatment in Western media and scholarly circles during the Cold War? (Of course, with the events of September 11, 2001 and China’s crackdown on what it calls East Turkestan “terrorist groups,” this is no longer the case.) After analyzing several hundred documents relating to the Xinjiang government in exile that survive in the Taiwan archives, I conclude that the answer lies in part in the neutralizing political initiatives undertaken by Yolbars Khan and the Nationalist government in Taiwan after 1949.

Yolbars was not the Nationalist’s first choice to fill the vacancy of the office of the chairman of Xinjiang. That distinction is shared by Isa Yusuf Alptekin and Mohammad Emin Bugra, former Uighur officials who held prominent and visible positions of authority in Xinjiang under Nationalist rule during the late 1940s. Both men had long advocated for some form of political and cultural autonomy for the Muslim peoples of Xinjiang, be it in nationalist Uighur or pan-Turkic guise. After several years of occupying high office in the provincial government, however, both men were thoroughly disillusioned with Nationalist promises of ethnopolitical autonomy. Several months before the Nationalists surrendered to the Communists in 1949, Isa and Emin fled first to India before eventually setting up a base of operations in Istanbul. Here they undertook an ambitious campaign to speak on behalf of Uighur and Kazak refugees throughout South Asia and the Middle East, even to the point of brokering several resettlement deals that brought thousands of Kazaks and a couple hundred Uighurs to Turkey.

The four documents selected here reveal the competition between Yolbars Khan in Taiwan and Isa and Emin in Turkey to win declarations of loyalty from the thousands of Xinjiang refugees who continued to stream out of China throughout the Mao years. The original correspondence was carried out in Uighur; those transcribed and translated here are the Chinese translations that were circulated throughout the Nationalist administration on Taiwan.

In Document No. 1, Mohammad Emin Bugra reiterates his longstanding advocacy for an independent Xinjiang and complains about the hostile reception he received from the Nationalist ambassador to Turkey, who had been informed of Emin’s demands by Yolbars. In Document No. 2, two separate groups of Kazak refugees in Turkey emphasize their continued loyalty to the Nationalist government and express their disappointment in the lack of material support from Taiwan while they were in India, warning that such failings will reflect poorly on Taiwan in the international arena of Cold War opinion. Document No. 3 is a comprehensive report by Yolbars, following his return from a highly publicized hajj trip to Mecca the previous year, regarding the economic and political situation among Xinjiang refugees in the Middle East. He also outlines a new vision of how the Nationalists could combat both the propaganda activities of Isa and Emin in Istanbul and those of the mainland Communist government, which was also active in attempting to claim refugee loyalties. Finally, Document No. 4 presents intelligence gathered throughout South Asia and the Middle East by Mohammad Sabiq, a former Xinjiang refugee himself who was referred to by Yolbars as his “secret agent.” By this point in time, Yolbars had made considerable headway toward neutralizing the detrimental effects on Chinese claims to Xinjiang resulting from Isa’s and Emin’s activities in Istanbul, and grew increasingly confident in authorizing ever greater sums of money to Sabiq for use in ever more ambitious overtures among Xinjiang refugees.

These documents from the unique and virtually unknown Office for the Chairman of the Xinjiang Provincial Government in Taiwan demonstrate the Nationalist commitment to preserving the non-Han borderlands of China while in exile, even if the immediate beneficiary of such efforts was its Communist rival across the Strait. They also show the considerable obstacles faced by the anti-Chinese faction of the refugee community in attempting to speak for the Muslim and Turkic-speaking peoples of Xinjiang in the same way that the Dalai Lama spoke for Tibetans. Irreconcilable as so many of their political and economic platforms appeared to be, in matters of ethnopolitical import, the voices of Communist China and “free” China were curiously aligned.

Justin M. Jacobs is Assistant Professor of History at American University. He is the author of Xinjiang and the Modern Chinese State, available from University of Washington Press.

Suggested Citation: Justin Jacobs, “The Xinjiang Exile Government in Taiwan, 1954-1969,” CWIHP e-Dossier No. 73 (May 2016), accessible at

Document Appendix
Additional archival documents about Xinjiang in the twentieth century are accessible on the Wilson Center's Digital Archive in the collection, "China and the Soviet Union in Xinjiang, 1934-"

Document No. 1
Letter from Mohammad Emin Bugra, Former Deputy Chairman of Xinjiang Province, to Yolbars Khan, Chairman of the Office for the Xinjiang Provincial Government, 10 May 1954
[Source: 11-04-01-09-02-005, “Xinjiang nanmin yiju Tuerqi," West Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Archives of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Obtained by Justin Jacobs and translated by Caixia Lu. Accessible at]

To [Elder] Brother Yolbars,

I received your letter dated 28 February very late, as I was away from home for a long time and was not able to reply at the time. 1. We began distributing the publications last year, all of which were sent on time by registered post and they were sent back. Thus we were not able to continue sending them. If there is a need to, please appoint an important department to deliver them and they might be received. 2. Dr. Chu Chia-hua and I have been in correspondence, and I have started printing separate editions in Turkish, Uighur, and English. 3. The more than two thousand people arriving in Turkey from India, Pakistan, and Arabia have settled down.   4. On the Anti-Communist National Salvation Conference convened in Taiwan, I have yet to receive any invitation or notification. I can only decide whether I can participate after I receive the invitation. 4. Two months ago, at the Chinese Embassy in Ankara, he had wanted to speak with me in person, and we have done so. He told me “you are advocating for the secession of Xinjiang from the Republic of China from abroad. Your actions and words are centered on this task. You should desist from such actions and words. The Chinese government will not grant you independence [freedom]. You should first go to Taiwan to take a look at our strength before you do your thing. If you keep emphasizing this task of yours, the results will not be in your favor.” My reply at the time was: “Our independence movement is not something that has just begun today, we started doing this twenty two years ago. This is not some empty rhetoric; sometimes it involves real battles, and sometimes it is sought through discourse. We will not stop until our homeland is free. The best sort of solution is for the Chinese government to take a benign stance in supporting Xinjiang’s independence. We think that our liberation is in the interests of both sides. If China is opposed to this method, then the liberation of a people [the rest of the text has not been photocopied]  Document No. 2

Letters from Kazak Refugees in Turkey to Yolbars Khan, 4 August 1955
[Source: 11-04-01-09-02-005, “Xinjiang nanmin yiju Tuerqi," West Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Archives of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Obtained by Justin Jacobs and translated by Caixia Lu. Accessible at

To Chairman Yolbars:

We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated July 21. We have not received your letters of instruction for a long time, thus we are all the more delighted and pleased to hear from you. You are very much in our thoughts and we hope that we can hear from you often from now on. We have not been able to meet the Chinese youth representatives who have come here this time round. The department also did not send a letter to notify us in advance, and we are living in the countryside so now we cannot be there in time. We have met Ambassador Li and told him about all our problems in detail. We did not come here because Turkey offered good help to us. The government has not been able to take care of us and makes us feel as if we have no place in the world. Driven by all sorts of difficulties, the two thousand or so refugees like us have come here temporarily and have no other motives. It was not our original intention to come to Turkey if we had been able to go to Taiwan. But the problem is about finding a place to live and establish ourselves as mentioned above, but everyone knows that we fled our homeland for the government and for the province. In the past we have told Ambassador Li all the details. Ordinary government officials think that we have abandoned the motherland and Xinjiang for Turkey and may have said so in their reports. Your Excellency and the relevant departments, there will come a day when it will be understood why we are stranded here. The government should pay attention to the problem of Xinjiang’s future and hopefully take special care of the Xinjiang refugees. It would seem right to have such a policy in light of the international situation today. The situation of our refugees who are stranded outside and are in various difficulties reflects badly on the standing of our government in the eyes of other countries. We beseech Your Excellency to please pay attention to and let the relevant departments know to render assistance to us hungry refugees. We are not ingrates like Emin and Isa who have engaged in anti-government activities. Our aim is to seek the government’s help and hope that the government will soon lead us.... (the rest of the text is missing from photocopy) Refugees:Ha-mu-zha [sic, Hamzah?]Hua-li-bo-ke [sic, Qali Beg?] We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated August 4. The fellow refugees living in Turkey are all safe. We have reported our situation the last time, and have resolved various issues. Your Excellency has detailed knowledge of our numerous difficulties in leaving our homeland and living overseas. We can only pray to Allah to watch over us and let us return to our homeland soon. Upon coming here, our fellow refugees have been given a place to stay and land to farm by the Turkey government. But we have never farmed before and we are thus unable to do so, and we have no money to do other business either. Our difficulties still cannot be resolved. In light of this, we implore Your Excellency to find a way to convey our situation to the government and have it help us to establish some basis to make a living. Yours sincerely Hu-si-yin-tai-ji [sic]A-ji-ha-mu-zha [sic]A-ji-su-li-tang [sic]Sha-wu-ti-ba-yi [sic]  

Document No. 3
Report and Recommendations by Yolbars Khan on Uighur and Kazak Refugees in the Middle East, 16 July 1956
[Source: 11-04-01-11-02-030, “Xinjiang sheng zhengfu ji Zhongguo huijiao xiehui zhi guomin waijiao huodongi," West Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Archives of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Obtained by Justin Jacobs and translated by Caixia Lu. Accessible at]


July 1645th Year of the Republic [1956] 1. Since your humble servant [I] returned from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in the 42nd year of the Republic [1953], I have called on you to present my report once, and it has been two years since I have presented myself in front of you to receive your instruction. On 13 January this year, I was summoned to see you but I happened to be ill thus I was unable to present myself for the meeting. I could only request to call on you in mid-June when I recovered. I wish to report and give suggestion on matters concerning the general conditions of and assistance to Xinjiang refugees overseas over the past year. But I was unable to do so as I had a relapse recently, which has gradually caused me to feel weary. I am afraid that this will be a lingering illness that will not permit me to call on you in the near future, which may delay your decision. Therefore I have compiled my reports and suggestions in writing for your reference and decision. 2. I am a junior official in a remote place and have neither learning nor skill. My only virtue is the determination to serve the party and the country, and I take it upon myself to fulfill Your Excellency’s long-cherished wish. Your Excellency is deeply aware that I have twice given up all my family possessions in aid of the country, and this time round I have even fled thousands of miles to Taiwan without anything. Our family has no choice but to depend on you for everything. Moreover, I have been in ill health all these years and am in constant need of medication. My health has taken a turn for the worse early this year, and I have been bed-ridden for seven months. I spent so much money that I find myself in serious debt, which I am unable to cope with. [For five nights, I wondered in shame?] Your Excellency’s loyal servant is shamelessly abasing himself to receive the charity of others. I would rather be honest with you to demonstrate my wholeheartedness. I urge Your Excellency to report the requests to...[meaning of following part of sentence unclear] 3. I plan to submit my request to call on you when my health improves slightly. 4. I hereby append four items of report, four items of suggestions and two items of requests for your instruction and approval.  Yours respectfully,Yolbars [Khan]  Outline of Report and Suggestions A. Items of Report: 1. General conditions of Xinjiang refugees living abroad: i. General conditions: Fellow countrymen who are seeking refuge overseas are mainly based in places such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kashmir, and Pakistan. As for the number of refugees in each place, there are about 8000 or so in Saudi Arabia, about 1000 or so in Turkey, about 200 in Kashmir, about 400 in various areas in Pakistan, and about a few dozen people in Cairo. In all, there are about 11,000 people or so. In addition, there are also Xinjiang refugees in various Middle East countries such as Lebanon and Iraq, but there has been no accounting of their numbers, thus it is unclear how many people there are. Among the refugees listed above, the economic conditions of those living in India and Pakistan are the worst, followed by those in Turkey. Those in Saudi Arabia have been there longer, thus most are able to engage in some petty business or sell small handicrafts to lead a more stable life. As for the political environment for the refugees in these various places, because we have no diplomatic relations with India and Pakistan, while the bandit gang has formal diplomatic relations with both of them and has established embassies, thus the two countries have pro-Communist tendencies, and the bandit gang is greatly aided in its activities. This makes the situation very unfavorable to the refugees who have undivided loyalty to our beloved motherland. But few of the refugees in these two countries have wavered all these years, and they have been in close contact with me, and there should not be any fundamental changes to this situation in the future. Refugees in Turkey have obtained citizenship from that country, and their circumstances are special. But based on the relationship that the various chiefs such as Qali Beg and Hamza have with me and their past allegiances to the government, it would not seem difficult to get them back into our fold. The refugees in Saudi Arabia are the most numerous and their makeup, the most complex, thus they also have a greater impact. As that country is anti-Communist and have official diplomatic relations with us, the political environment for the refugees over there are better. Circumstances have been rather favorable ever since we have reestablished our embassy in that country. Even if there are major changes internationally, that country will not go the way of Egypt and the circumstance should be more optimistic.  ii. On the activities of the so-called “East Turkestan Independence Movement” led by Emin and Isa. General situation: Regarding the independence movement led by those such as Emin and Isa, I tried to talk sense into them and counsel them earnestly and sincerely, and have made repeated reports on what transpired. Now Imin is now a naturalized citizen of Turkey, and Isa has also submitted his application for processing. Yet they have not given up on their conspiracy and they are now using Istanbul and Cairo as their centers for planning and propaganda, with the Xinjiang refugees in Saudi Arabia and Turkey as their main targets. Aside from exploiting their advantage of being near to these people, they also often use both temptation and coercion, as well as distribute publications regularly to sway the minds of men and influence international opinion. This is even more worrying than the activities of the Communist bandits. Our international position in the Middle East has become increasingly unfavorable ever since the Egyptians recognized the Communist bandits. It seems that we should quickly come up with effective countermeasures to remedy the situation.  2. On the relief given to Xinjiang refugees living overseas over the past year:  i. Collective relief: Over the past year, the collective relief given to Xinjiang refugees living overseas consists of relief to 1) 166 people in Kashmir and 2) 486 people in Pakistan and Bombay, with each individual given 15 US dollars in aid, amounting to 10,780 US dollars in total. These were disbursed last June and this March after my request to the Chinese Mainland Relief Association to take charge of the matter. ii. Individual relief: Four individuals Abdullah [sic] in Iraq and Yousuf [sic] in Lebanon, A-bu-du-ai-ze-zi [sic] in Turkey, A-bu-du-re-he-man-sha-bai-er in Peshawar, Pakistan. Apart from Yousuf [sic] who received 20 US dollars from the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission, the rest were aided by the Chinese Mainland Relief Association at my request.  iii. Relief give to Xinjiang Kazakh refugees in Turkey: As early as the 42nd year of the Republic [1953] when this group of 1300 or so Kazakh refugees were still living in Pakistan, we have received permission for the Chinese Mainland Relief Association to offer 4000 US dollars to aid them. Later, Communist bandits and the necessities of living drove these Kazakh refugees to head west to take up citizenship in Turkey, and the money was returned. Later, these Kazakh refugees have repeatedly written letters myself to disburse this money, as its political significance was greater than its economic significance. Thereafter, there were repeated discussions with the foreign ministry and our embassy in Turkey on the technicalities of disbursing the money, which went on for almost four years. Last year [the  44th year of the Republic), the Executive Yuan ordered the Interior Ministry to gather all the relevant departments for discussions, where it was decided that the Kazakh refugees had to be given assistance as soon as possible, and they drafted a resolution to temporarily obtain 27,000 dollars from the US currency deposited by the former Xinjiang provincial government in the central bank or for the Executive Yuan to raise 66,9060 New Taiwan dollars to render assistance. But this has yet to be implemented and when I put up a request for it to be processed, the response from the Executive Yuan was that the discussion had been shelved, and this is deeply regrettable indeed. 3. On the situation in Xinjiang after its fall to the bandits: As the Xinjiang province is in the inaccessible and remote frontier area, it is difficult to know the real situation behind the Bamboo Curtain apart from sporadic reports coming from Kashmir and Pakistan. Little news is being leaked out, except that in July last year [44th year of the Republic], local residents in Hotan were forced by hunger to stop the Communist bandits from transporting food supplies, and a large-scale bloody rebellion ensued. Similar incidents have also occurred in places such as Kashgar. It is proof of how the bandit gang is oppressing the Xinjiang compatriots and shows how the people are unhappy with Communist rule that they have risen in bloody rebellion. Thereafter, the bandit gang had announced the establishment of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region last year, with measures such as giving autonomous rule to the Uighurs in Southern Xinjiang. Based on the reactions of various parties, the compatriots of Xinjiang are very aware of the deceptive ways of the Communist bandits and this has not reduced their enmity toward the Communist bandits in the slightest bit. 4. The various activities of the Communist bandits in the Middle East: The Communist bandits had originally been shunned by the Middle Eastern countries. For instance during the 42nd year of the Republic, the Hajj delegation sent by the bandit puppet regime to Mecca had already reached Pakistan, but found themselves in the awkward position of having to turn back when Saudi Arabia refused to let them in, which proves the point. But because the various Muslim countries in the Middle East harbor an ethnic hatred against Israel, suffered bitterly under British and French colonial policies, and desire to free themselves from the yoke, this gives rise to a tricky situation in international relations, which is greatly advantageous to the Communist bandits. So apart from Li Dequan and Song Qingling who have made repeated visits to Pakistan to beguile them, this year, Burhan Shahidi had also led delegations to visit various Middle Eastern countries and they have sent more than a hundred people under the Hajj delegation, Beiping Theatre Group, and cultural delegation to places such as Cairo and Mecca to actively engage in their work. It goes to show how much they desire to get the various Middle Eastern countries and the Xinjiang refugees on their side. B. Items of Suggestion: 1. Organizing and gaining control of the Xinjiang refugees in various Middle Eastern countries: Our international position in the Middle East is becoming increasing untenable ever since Egypt recognized the bandit puppet regime. But the shift in diplomatic position of Egypt and other countries seems to be the result of delicate relations caused by Arab-Israeli rivalry and British and French colonial policies, and not because they favor the Communist bandits while being prejudiced against us. Thus, it is not yet impossible to remedy the situation and prevent it from worsening. And we must not allow the conspiracy of Emin and Isa to gain traction. I think that in order to win over the Middle Eastern countries, we must first win over the compatriots in these countries, because they are all Muslims and have the same way of life and the same beliefs as the people in these countries, thus they are able appeal to their emotions and influence their minds. As for the activities of Emin and Isa, if we are to prevent them from achieving anything, our foremost task should also be to fight for the support of our compatriots. Thus it seems necessary to organize and gain control over the Xinjiang refugees in the Middle Eastern countries as soon as possible. Method of implementation: propose to have the security bureau of the Supreme Defense Council look into and execute this. 2. Step up on publicity and pacification work in the Middle East: Before we are able to effect measures to organize and gain control of compatriots in the Middle East, in order to achieve timely results, I propose that we should send Hajj pilgrimage and visiting delegations this year in order to prevent compatriots in these countries from feelingdoubtful and hesitant.  Method of implementation: The Hajj pilgrimage delegation proposal has been sent to the party central for implementation suggestions on May 23, may Your Excellency please appraise and make a decision, and [I will respectfully submit the original proposal?] 3. Building of a mosque in Taipei: The mosque is a place where Muslims pray to Allah, and wherever there are Muslims in the world, there will be magnificent and stately mosques. Since the bandit gang occupied the Mainland, there have also been mosques of significant scale built in Beiping, and they have also set up Islamic institutes in places such as Beiping, Dihua  [Urumqi], and Lanzhou, so as to gain popularity by deceiving the people. Since the government shifted to Taipei, there have been many Muslim compatriots who have followed suit. Although there have also been mosques established here, they are all located in civilian homes and are cramped in scale. It is already inconvenient for ordinary Muslims to pray in these places, but when there are dignitaries from Muslim countries and overseas nationals requesting to see or pray at Taipei’s mosques, I fear that they might find them too simple and crude, which will make us a laughing stock. I had to make excuses that the better mosques were too far away or under renovation and it pains me to do this. I suppose that such incidents will become increasingly common. Thus I think it is necessary to build a mosque of a sufficient scale. The Muslim compatriots in Taiwan have been thinking about this from very early on but are limited in their financial ability and cannot afford to do so.   Method of implementation: I propose that the government fund the building of a mosque that is comparable in scale to the Shih Chien Hall on Kwei Yang Street in Taipei, in the usual style of a mosque, which will boost our international stature and make it easier for Muslims to pray.  It will also show the government’s goodwill towards Muslims. 4. Selection of exemplary young Muslims to further their studies in Taipei and relax the restrictions to enter Taiwan. Education and culture not only helps to build a pool of talent for the country, but also play an important role in fostering a sense of mutual trust and unity. Although the government had spoken of grooming talented administrators for the border regions in the past and stipulated preferential rules for young people living in border regions wishing to further their education, attitudes have been a little passive, and those implementing it have not been able to understand the substance of such a policy. Thus good intentions have not had the desired effect. Furthermore, the barriers to entering Taiwan are high, and the paperwork cumbersome. Thus, even if they are full of patriotism and wish to imbibe the culture of the motherland, it is not easy to enter the country and they can only sigh from across the ocean and outside the gates. For example, in the 41st year of the Republic when 400 or so Xinjiang Kazakh youths living in Pakistan requested to return to the country to study, there was no agreement after years of negotiation. These patriotic youths had no choice but to move west to gain Turkish citizenship, thus representing a big loss to the country’s future  Method of implementation:  i. I propose that the education ministry can draft detailed measures to stipulate that Taiwan’s universities, middle schools, and elementary schools must set aside a number of places for youths from the border regions in order to make it easier for them to study. ii. Proposal to advise and urge youths from the border regions living overseas to come to Taiwan to study and for the government to provide them with travel fees and all living expenses for the period of study. 5. Please consider the setting up of a special fund to provide overseas temporary relief in a timely manner. On the issue of providing relief to Xinjiang refugees living overseas, I have been putting in requests to the Executive Yuan and the Chinese Mainland Relief Association to do so for years, and most were collectively processed by region. But the official correspondence goes back and forth for years and the waiting refugees are grumbling. There were fewer cases of issuing small sums of temporary relief. It would seem that this is not practical, and I propose to set up a special fund to provide assistance in a timely manner, so as to bring real benefit. Method of implementation: I propose to have a lump sum of 2,000 US dollars [enough to help about 130 people whose cases have been processed] or to increase the funding under my management with a temporary sum of assistance at 20,000 New Taiwan dollars per month, the surplus of which would be returned, whereas I would claim with receipts if there is a deficit.  Document No. 4

Letter from Mohammad Sabiq, Special Agent in Afghanistan, to Yolbars Khan, 14 June 1969
[Source: 11-04-01-09-02-002, “Jiuji Xinjiang nanbao," West Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Archives of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Obtained by Justin Jacobs and translated by Caixia Lu. Accessible at

Translation of Mohammad Sabiq’s Letter to Chairman Yolbars  1. The circumstances surrounding the loss of money and passport in Saudi Arabia had been reported in the previous letter and are omitted here. 2. [The circumstances surrounding [my] falling ill for nineteen days after Hajj and efforts to publicize [our cause] and express sympathy [for refugees] have been reported and are omitted here] 3. I had told Mu-han-mo-de-yi-si-la-mi [sic, Mohamed Islami?] that Chairman Yolbars had in the past written to Isa telling him to go to Taiwan and offering him the post of the Chairman of Xinjiang. But Isa said he was not willing to go to Taiwan, but he accepted the money that the government gave him anyway. It is ample proof that Isa is a complete fraud on the outside. You [referring to Islami] are my teacher, so my advice to you is to recognize the circumstances, disassociate yourself from Isa as soon as possible, and support the Nationalist government. Islami said that my [Sabiq’s] words were sincere and honest, and he would definitely do as asked. Islami seems to have already understood that I had been to Taiwan, although he did not say it out loud. He helped me write many letters of introduction to the compatriots in Amman and other cities and urged them to disassociate themselves from Isa at the same time. Later, these compatriots too openly admitted that Isa was a liar, and they also said: Isa advised us not to accept the Han people’s money yet he accepted the government’s money on the sly. Insidiously, he had also caused us to think of Chairman Yolbars as a bad man. I [Sabiq] told them that this was the truth. If they wanted proof that Isa was a liar, I could write a letter to Taiwan anytime to ask for it. The compatriots in Arabia have unanimously expressed their opposition to Isa. Later, when A-ji-a-bu-du-zhu-da-mo-la [sic], a compatriot from Yarkand in Xinjiang who came for the pilgrimage heard what I said, he professed a determination to join me to work in Afghanistan. There are many other compatriots professing the same. I promised that I would help them arrange the papers after I go to Afghanistan to see if the Afghan government would permit them to enter the country. 4. After I arrived in Jordan, I met some compatriots who had been deported by the Arabs. I told them to go with me to Afghanistan and that there was no need to go to Turkey. Secretary Chen from the Embassy in Jordan gave them the same advice.  The Embassies in Arabia and Jordan have been very helpful to us. 5. [The encounter with Nai-mi-ti [sic] and the things discussed have been covered in the previous letter and are omitted in the translation.] After I arrived in Iran, there was a short letter bringing news of fourteen American spies who were executed/tortured [ambiguous]. I wrote a total of two letters to the Chairman. I heard from Ambassador Liu that the Chairman said he had never received my letters. So I wrote this letter and specially got the Ambassador to send this on my behalf. The Chairman’s first question upon receiving the letter has been answered in the previous letter. The fourth question [about the] Free China Relief Association giving me 2,400 US dollars to take with me, I have already changed the money into Afghanis and asked someone to take it back first. When I return to Afghanistan, I will distribute the money after assessing the difficulties of our compatriots and I will send the receipts to Taiwan. I seek the Chairman’s forgiveness for not being able to do this expeditiously 6. I am very grateful to the government for granting the 25,000 US dollars and I am very happy to hear from the Ambassador that someone is coming. My guess is that it will be Brother Daohong. His presence here will be the same as the Chairman being here himself. I welcome the party headquarters sending someone here as Taiwan is our motherland, and the compatriots living in Taiwan will live as they were in our homeland, with no pain and difficulty. But it is not the same case in Afghanistan, because it is impossible to lead a peaceful life in a foreign land, and for a long time, it has been easy to attract the attention of the Afghanistan government and compatriots when doing our work. If we do our work openly, there will be a lot of difficulties in future. I have family in Afghanistan, and thus I have come to understand many things. I hope that whoever is asked to come here can come quickly, because I have been staying in Iran for twenty-five days and the Ambassador wants me to wait for ten more days. I had also thought that it would not be nice to go back empty-handed, thus I can only wait patiently. As for whether other work can be accomplished after returning to Afghanistan, we will know when the time comes. I will definitely do my best in my work and not put the Chairman in a quandary. I will strive to repay the Chairman’s kindness. Mohammad Sabiq June 14, 1969


About the Author

Justin Jacobs

Justin Jacobs

Assistant Professor of History at American University
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Cold War International History Project

The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more