Incorporation of Xinjiang Into The People's Republic of China - Accession of The Three Districts (ETR)

Accession of The Three Districts (ETR)

See also: Ili Rebellion

The Second ETR, initially led by Elihan Tore, was founded in November 1944 during the Ili Rebellion with Soviet support and was based in three northwest districts of Xinjiang. Tore disappeared in the Soviet Union in 1946, and another ETR leader, Ehmetjan Qasimi, head of the pro-Soviet Sinkiang Turkic People's National Liberation Committee (STPNLC), reached a political agreement with the Nationalist Chinese leader Zhang Zhizhong to form a coalition provincial government in Dihua (present day Urumqi). The Second ETR was disbanded in name but the Three Districts retained autonomy. Qasimi became the vice-chairman of the coalition government. In June 1947, the Nationalist Chinese forces clashed with Mongolian and Soviet forces at Beitashan in northeastern Xinjiang. In that conflict, Kazakh leader Osman Batur of the ETR repudiated the ETR and defected to join Nationalist Chinese forces in fighting against Soviet-backed Mongolian forces.

On August 19, 1949, Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communists telegraphed the leaders of the Three Districts, inviting them to attend the Inaugural Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference to be held in Beijing. On August 22, five leaders of the Three Districts, Ehmetjan Qasimi, Abdulkerim Abbas, Ishaq Beg, Luo Zhi and Delilhan Sugurbayev boarded a Soviet plane in Almaty and were headed for Chita but were said to have perished in a mysterious plane accident near Lake Baikal. On September 3, three other former ETR leaders including Saifuddin Azizi arrived in Beijing by train. Azizi learned the news of the airplane crash from the Soviet Ambassador and informed the PRC negotiator Deng Liqun, but the deaths were not publicly announced. Azizi and the remaining representatives from the Three Districts agreed to join the People’s Republic of China, which was founded on October 1. The deaths of the other former ETR leaders were not announced until December after the PLA had control of northern Xinjiang and had reorganized the military forces of the Three Districts into the PLA.

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