Chinese Tatars
Tatars (right) featured on a mural depicting the 56 ethnic groups recognized by the Chinese government
Total population
3,544 (2020)
Regions with significant populations
Xinjiang (Daquan Township)
Tatar, Mandarin, Russian
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Volga Tatars
Chinese Tatars
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese塔塔尔族
Traditional Chinese塔塔爾族
Tatar name
TatarКытай татарлары
Qıtay tatarları

The Chinese Tatars (Tatar: Кытай татарлары), or simply Tatars (Chinese: 塔塔尔族), are a Turkic ethnic group in Xinjiang, China. They are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the Chinese government.

As of 2020, there are 3,544 Chinese Tatars living in Xinjiang, mostly in the cities of Yining, Tacheng, and Ürümqi. The Daquan Tatar Ethnic Township of Qitai County in Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, which sits on the edge of the Gurbantünggüt Desert, is the only subdivision designated for the Chinese Tatars.[1]


The Chinese Tatars are descendants of Volga Tatars who migrated to Xinjiang from their native Idel-Ural region of modern-day Russia. The Tatars have traditionally acted as mediators between the Russians and the native Muslim peoples of Xinjiang. The first wave of permanent Tatar settlement in Xinjiang began in 1851, primarily in cities such as Ghulja (Yining). Tatars brought progressive ideas and new institutions into Xinjiang, where they cemented themselves in the cultural and political fabric of the region. Jadid schools (including institutions for girls), mosques, and libraries catering to the Tatar community were opened in the second half of the 19th-century and in the first decades of the 20th-century. During this period, many intellectuals were brought from Tatarstan to staff the schools and colleges.[2]

Chinese Tatars speak an archaic variant of the Tatar language, free from 20th-century loanwords, and use the Tatar Arabic alphabet, which was phased out in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Being surrounded by speakers of other Turkic languages, Chinese Tatar partially reverses the Tatar high vowel inversion.[3]

Chinese Tatars are Sunni Muslims.[4] Most Tatars can speak Uyghur and often utilize the Uyghur Arabic script for writing.[5]

Notable people



  1. ^ 中国人口较少民族 [Ethnic Minorities in China] (in Chinese). Xinhua Press. 2007. p. 83. ISBN 978-7501181094.
  2. ^ Ondřej Klimeš (8 January 2015). Struggle by the Pen: The Uyghur Discourse of Nation and National Interest, c.1900–1949. BRILL. pp. 80–. ISBN 978-90-04-28809-6.
  3. ^ Minglang Zhou (2003). Multilingualism in China: the politics of writing reforms for minority languages, 1949–2002. Vol. 89 of Contributions to the sociology of language (illustrated ed.). Published Walter de Gruyter. p. 183. ISBN 3-11-017896-6. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Joshua Project – Tatar of China Ethnic People Profile".
  5. ^ Davis, Edward Lawrence (2005). "Turkic Language Speakers". Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 618. ISBN 978-0-415-77716-2.