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THE 'BOXER UPRISING' IN CHINA AND THE PAN-ISLAMIC POLICY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE FROM A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE

  • LEE, HEE SOO (Department of Cultural Anthropology at Hanyang University)
  • Published : 2018.06.15

Abstract

This article aims to examine European reactions against the Ottoman mission headed by Enver Pasha, who was dispatched to China during the 'Boxer Uprising' in 1901. Based on Western archival documents, we can find reliable and informative correspondence about the attitude of the European countries toward the sultan's mission and its pan-Islamic plans in China. The coming of the Ottoman mission caused great reaction in such European countries as Britain, France, Germany and Russia, who were engaged in a competitive power struggle for an influential political and economic position in China. They kept a close watch on the sultan's envoy to find out his secret mission on the one hand and tried to persuade Enver Pasha not to work against their advantage in China on the other. From time to time, Abdul Hamid II (r. 1876-1909), the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, sent China an official mission and secret agents, through whom he tried to subjugate Chinese Muslims for his own advantage. The significance for the Ottoman Empire of any success in penetrating China by way of a pan-Islamic approach cannot be overrated, not only for political advantage but also for commercial and cultural benefit. Like other European countries, Ottomans could retain or gain rights which might bring them opportunities for free trade in opium and in other commodities. The sultan believed that they would constitute a great political factor to his advantage, because most of the tens of millions of Chinese Muslims recognized the Ottoman sultan as their caliph and praised him in their Friday sermon (Khutuba). Taking these factors into consideration, he decided to dispatch the Enver Pasha mission during the Boxer Uprising (1898-1901), responding to the suggestion of German Kaiser Wilhelm II. However, when the Ottoman mission arrived in China, the uprising had already been suppressed. This unexpected situation made the envoy initiate meaningful contacts with Chinese Muslims during its stay in China.

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