Reviews

Based essentially on the Qing official documentation in Chinese language, enriched with Manchu sources and by secondary sources in Japanese, this well-learned study reconstructs the history of the flimsy but difficult political relations between the Khanate of Kokand and China, focused on the eighteenth and nineteenth-century issue of the Sino-Central Asian boundary.  From this viewpoint this work will show of great interest not only for sinologists, but also for historians of Central Asia—even if the book is intended first for the former, following the problematic of the construction of the Chinese boundary through political action and intellectual debates in China.  Such was the preamble to the formation of the Chinese territory as a nation-state.  From the, let’s say, Turkistani viewpoint, it appears that the Khans of Kokand (from Irdana to Malla Khan via Narbuta and Muhammad-‘Ali Khan) fully played the mug’s game of the Qing tribute system—the pretext of an allegiance hiding the quest for commercial interests in China, and expansion towards Xinjiang (chapter 2).  On a deeper level the Khanate of Kokand remained faithful to Islamic solidarity, and distrustful towards Sino-Manchu infidels, despite its ambiguous attitude vis-à-vis the Naqshbandi khwajas of Xinjiang (also venerated in the Fergana Valley), whose incursions permanently spread confusion in the Tarim oases (chapters 3 & 4).  In all, one observes a continuous tension between strategic interests, on the one hand, and on the other hand identities and religious sentiments.  The measures of commercial retaliation taken against Kokand by the imperial administration, after Jahangir Khwaja’s insurrection in Kashgharia in the 1830s (chapter 5), drove the Khanate to continue its attacks (chapter 6).  Whence the 1830s marked the beginning of the Chinese colonisation of frontier regions, Kokand maintained its policy of regional intervention in the Xinjiang affairs (chapter 7).  The imperial administration endured the situation till the Khanate weakened from within in the 1860s, though it did not take the lead in a frontier region that permanently escaped its control (chapters 8 & 9).  On this aspect of the things and on a more regional scale, for the period under consideration the author analyses in detail the complex and ambiguous role played as intermediaries between Kokand and Beijing by the begs—the Turkistani functionaries of the Manchu administration in Xinjiang.

Alexandre Papas, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-3.5.B-340