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Shadian Incident
Part of Cultural Revolution in China
Photo of bodies of ethnic minority Hui Muslims, taken in the aftermath of the killing.
Native name沙甸事件
LocationGejiu City, Yunnan, China
Date1974-1975; 46 years ago
Attack type
Ethnic conflict, Civil unrest
Deaths1600 civilians, including 300 children
PerpetratorsPeople's Liberation Army, Chinese Communist Party, Militia etc.

The Shadian incident (Chinese: 沙甸事件; pinyin: Shādiàn shìjiàn) was an uprising of Muslim Hui people during the Chinese Cultural Revolution which ended in a military-led killing.[1][2][3][4][5] The killings took place in seven villages of Yunnan Province, especially at the Shadian Town of Gejiu City, in July and August 1975; most sources estimate the number of the deaths around 1,600 (half from Shadian), including 300 children, in addition to the destruction of 4,400 homes.[1][3][4][6][7][8][9][10]

The conflict between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and local religious Hui people began in 1974, when the latter went to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, to demand the freedom of religion granted by the Chinese constitution.[1][2] However, the local government deemed the behavior of the hundreds of protesters as "causing a disturbance" and "opposing the leadership of the Party".[1][2] In 1975, the villagers attempted to forcefully re-open the mosques closed during the Cultural Revolution, escalating the conflict and catching the attention of Beijing.[1][2][4] Eventually, on 29 July, 10,000 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army were ordered by Deng Xiaoping (however some sources claim Wang Hongwen[11][12]) to settle the conflict, resulting in a mass killing which lasted for about a week.[1][2]

The incident

The Grand Mosque of Shadian in Yunnan, China

Historical background

Shadian Town at the time had one of China's largest Hui populations, totalling about 7,200 people.[10] During the Cultural Revolution, as part of the campaign to destroy the "Four Olds", the People's Liberation Army closed down mosques and burned religious books.[13][14] Many Muslims set up their own factions to preserve their rights as guaranteed under the PRC constitution.[13][15] Serious ethnic conflicts had erupted there in 1968 and continued on and off through the early 1970s.[2] In 1974 a notice was issued ordering closure of mosques in the town. More than 1,000 people boarded a train to Beijing to complain.[10] By late 1974, after an abortive public protest by more than 800 Muslims from Shaodian in the provincial capital, Kunming, demanding the state to honor freedom of religion granted in the constitution. The delegation was accused of creating a disturbance and opposing the leadership of the party. Subsequently, violence erupted between a "Muslim Militia Regiment" and the non-Muslim county administration's command.[2] In early 1975, representatives of both sides in the conflict were called to Beijing, where a truce was negotiated, only to be broken immediately on the ground in Shadian when confusion arose about how the handing-in of illegal arms was to be managed.[2] The situation further deteriorated when villagers tried to forcefully re-open the mosques and refused to pay grain tax to the state as a form of protest.[1][2]

Yunnan Province (in red)


On July 5, 1975, the Central Committee issued "Zhongfa [1975] 15", which was signed by Mao Zedong and gave the People's Liberation Army the go-ahead to bring the situation under control if all other attempts to end the tense standoff failed.[2] A string of incidents ensued, and at the direct request of the provincial authorities, a 10,000 strong force of PLA soldiers was called in to settle the conflict.[2][10] One week later, hundreds of Huis had perished and 4,400 houses had been destroyed in Shadian, but also in nearby villages. Officials stated that 130 people were killed, whereas local Muslim leaders claimed that 1,600 Chinese Muslims were killed.[10] The PLA used guns, howitzers, flamethrowers and also aerial bombardment during the campaign.[10][15]


See also: Boluan Fanzheng

After the Cultural Revolution, the Communist Party branch in Yunnan reviewed and investigated the Shadian Incident during the "Boluan Fanzheng" period, subsequently rehabilitating the victims and offering official apologies in February 1979.[10][13] The Communist Party under Deng Xiaoping blamed the worst and most violent parts of the Cultural Revolution which were directed at minorities upon the Gang of Four, especially Jiang Qing. After the Gang of Four were toppled by Hua Guofeng, the Communist Party ended the Cultural Revolution and issued apologies and reparations to survivors. The Gang of Four variously received death sentences or long prison terms, commuted to life imprisonment.

The local people received certain amount of reparations from the government for the damages suffered, and after Deng Xiaoping's Gaige kaifang policy, the Malaysian and Middle East markets have been granted more access and special treatment by the government specifically for Shadian merchants, which has increased prosperity, and also increased religious and educational exchange, as more and more Hui students left for Islamic education abroad, and brought back Arabic speaking skills, religious ideas and practices from these countries. As part of the reparations scheme, the government has also erected a Martyr's Memorial in Shadian to honor the 800 officially recognised victims, whose graves surround the pathway that leads up to the memorial. The government also partially financed the building of the Great Mosque in Shadian which was completed in 2009. It is designed in an Arab style, and now serves as the town centre and a source of pride for the local Muslim community.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gladney, Dru C. (1996). Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic. Harvard Univ Asia Center. ISBN 978-0-674-59497-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k MacFarquhar, Roderick; Schoenhals, Michael (2006). Mao's Last Revolution. Harvard University Press. pp. 387–388. ISBN 978-0-674-02332-1.
  3. ^ a b Zhou, Yongming (1999). Anti-drug Crusades in Twentieth-century China: Nationalism, History, and State Building. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8476-9598-0.
  4. ^ a b c "China's Puzzling Islam Policy". Stanford Politics. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  5. ^ Su, Alice (6 June 2016). "Harmony and Martyrdom Among China's Hui Muslims". The New Yorker. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  6. ^ Foundation, World Peace. "China: the Cultural Revolution | Mass Atrocity Endings". Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Shadian's Muslim communities and trans-local connectivities: observations from the field | IIAS". Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  8. ^ Song, Yongyi (25 August 2011). "Chronology of Mass Killings during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)". Sciences Po. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  9. ^ Khalid, Zainab (1 April 2011). Rise of the Veil: Islamic Modernity and the Hui Woman. SIT Graduate Institute - Study Abroad.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Mystery Archive: More than 1,000 Hui People (i.e. Muslims) killed in Cultural Revolution; popular armed conflicts turn into military suppression (神祕檔案﹕雲南沙甸事件 逾千回民死亡文革武鬥變成軍事鎮壓) Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
  11. ^ Qi, Zhi (26 November 2019). 中华学人论文集——文化大革命50年(1-4): 学校和地方(三) (in Chinese). Remembering Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-951135-09-6.
  12. ^ 文革反思回忆史料之八: 云南'文化大革命'运动大事纪实 (in Chinese). Zhong wen chu ban wu fu wu zhong xin. 2007.
  13. ^ a b c Zhou, Kang. "骇人听闻的云南沙甸惨案". Yanhuang Chunqiu. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019.
  14. ^ Wei, Dedong (27 March 2012). "中国宗教30年 从"文革禁止"到"信仰自由"". Phoenix New Media. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  15. ^ a b Israeli Raphael, (2002) Islam in China: religion, ethnicity, culture, and politics. Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-0375-X, 9780739103753.
  16. ^ Khalid, Zainab (4 January 2011). "Rise of the Veil: Islamic Modernity and the Hui Woman". SIT Graduate Institute - Study Abroad: 8, 11. Retrieved 25 July 2014. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)