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Islamic States in China

Last modified: 2003-08-09 by phil nelson
Keywords: islam | china | uighuristan | east turkestan | xinjiang | crescent | star |
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Uighuristan (Islamic Republic of East Turkestan)

In 1933 (when the Chinese central government had de facto ceased to exist) there was a short-lived state country in present day Xinjiang with names "Republic of Uighuristan" or "Islamic Republic of East Turkestan" (both names were used although the state has existed for less than one year). This state has used a star & crescent flag of triangular shape.
Harald Mueller, 28 August 1997

[Flag of Uighuristan] by Mark Sensen

This flag uses the shahada out of the Saudi flag. An alternative rendering is shown below.
Uighuristan existed for less than a year between 1932 and 1933. It issued coins with nationalsymbols on them: a triangular flag with a crescent and star, IIRC the crescent faces the hoist. On some of the coins the flag has a flamed border. Of course, no colors areprovided.
Harald Mueller 1996-JUL-1

[Flag of Uighuristan] by Mark sensen
This rendering of the flag uses a shahada resembling that in the old flag of the Yemeni Imam. It is less artistic than the Saudi one.

[Flag of Uighuristan] by Harald Mueller

[Flag of Xinjiang] by Mark Sensen

The flag of the 'Republic of Uighuristan' was also said to be like the Turkish flag, with a blue background instead of red. Now, I have checked out flag depictions on coins from this "state", and they look different. The flag is triangular (like a diagonal cut of a normal oblong flag), and the crescent looks towards the hoist. Sometimes there are a kind of flames attached to the border.
Harald Mueller

I have seen two flags attributed to the Uighurs or East Turkestan, but I don't know the official status of either. One is the same as the Turkish flag but dark blue instead of red. The otheris white with a dark blue crescent and star in the upper half, centred horizontally. Bothcrescent and star point toward the upper hoist. In the lower half is the Islamic Shahadah inArabic script (the same as on the Saudi Arabian flag).
David Lewellen 21 January 1996

From the Eastern Turkestan Information Center web site (, it is clear that this flag is used by Uygur nationalists.

Some historical facts from "Courrier International", 440, 08 April 1999: "In 1884, Turkestan was incorporated to Mandchu Empire as Xinjiang ("New border"). Between 1884 and 1949, 42 armed revolts occurred against the military governors. Independentists mention a short-lived Islamic Republic of Eastern Turkestan established in the south in 1933, and a second Republic of Eastern Turkestan in 1944. Seized in 1949 by the Chinese troops, the Uygur autonomous region was created in 1955. Independentists claim they never stopped demonstrations and clandestine actions until now."
Ivan Sache, 8 April 1999

The chart: Flags of Aspirant Peoples shows: 137. "East Turkestan (Uighurs) - West-china, Xinjiang." Similar to cn-xj.gif (last one above), but with very dark blue field. The flag with light blue field is the one used in Uighur demonstrations.
Ivan Sache, 16 September 1999

The last issue of Franciae Vexilla (#17/63 - March 2000) reports additional flags.

Cheng-Chi-Tsai, first flag
[Cheng-Chi-Tsai, first flag]
by Ivan Sache

During the civil war, the war lord Cheng-Chi-Tsai proclaimed an autonomous province in Xin-Jiang (1933-1942). He was first influenced by Japan and used a yellow flag with a red six-pointed star in the canton.

Cheng-Chi-Tsai, second flag
[Cheng-Chi-Tsai, second flag]
by Ivan Sache

He later changed his flag under Soviet influence for a red field with a yellow six-pointed star in the middle.

The Islamic Republic of Eastern Turkestan was proclaimed on 12 December 1933 in Aksou (South Xin-Jiang) ans suppressed in February 1934 with Soviet help. The flag sown in Franciae Vexilla differes from those above by having the crescent facing the hoist and the shahadah written in Uighur.

Second Republic of Eastern Turkestan
[Islamic Republic of Eastern Turkestan]
by Ivan Sache

The Second Republic of Eastern Turkestan (People's Republic of Eastern Turkestan) was proclaimed on 11 November 1943 in Koudja by grouping the provinces of Altai, Ili and Tarbagtai (Northern Xin-Jiang). The Republic, which was proclaimed with Soviet helped, joined the PRC in 1949. The flag was light blue with a light blue crescent and star fimbriated in white, pointing to the upper hoist.

Yellow Bordered Uighur flag
[Yellow bordered Uighur flag]
by Ivan Sache

Franciae Vexilla also shows the Uighur flag used in demonstrations. The flag was also seen with a yellow border.
Ivan Sache, 01 April 2000

[Second Republic of E. Turkestan??]
by Ivan Sache

Znamierowski shows for the same state in the same period the same flag, but *red* instead of *blue*.
Ivan Sache, 15 March 2001

This must be a mistake or print error. Red flags with half moon and star were used by the Khodjas (middle of XIX century), and by some sultanates (Kansu, Tsinghai and Ninghsia, Sultanate of three Horses, 1911-1950) but half moon and star was in Turkey pattern. All sources are according that the East Turkestan republic flag (existed 1944-1949 and not 1943-1949, but perhaps flags were used before this) was blue and current nationalist (mainly Uighur) adopted this color c. 1990.
Jaume Ollé, 15 March 2001

Other Islamic States

Flag of Ningxia Hui
[Ningxia Hui] by Ivan Sache

In the post-revolutionary turmoil in China , and among many others, the Muslims of Ningxia Hui region set-up their own state - Xibei San Ma (North-Central China, 1914-28). The flag used by that regime was originally triangular and obviously influenced by the Turkish pattern.Later on rectangular, red flag with the crescent and star was used.
Chris Kretowicz, 2 April 2001

This flag was common for Kansu, Tsinghai and Ningshia The three quoted provinces fall after 1911 under muslim chieftains. Tsinghai was in the hands of warlord Bufang, who governed from his capital Xining. Bafungs was a self proclaimed Sultan of Qinghai together with his brother Ma Buqing, and held power until 1950 when he fled to Saudi Arabia because of the communist advance. In Ningshia Sultan Ma Hongbin (c. 1912) that surrended to communist only in 1950 In Kansu the power was Ma Hongkui (capital in Lanzhou), brother of Ma Hongbin of Ningshia. In 1950 he fled to Turkey. The three Sultanates has a common policy and common flag (Turkey) and were called Sultanates of three Horse, but each territory has full self-government.

A similar flag (or exactly same) was used by Kashgar when it was governed by the Khodja. The Khodja family was exiled in Ferghana (Kokand) from where they encouraged the muslim resistence against China in East Turkestan. Rebellions were started in 1825, 1830, 1846 and 1857. In 1862 the dungan of Kansu (a mixture of chinese and turks) revolted against China and the muslims of Dzungaria (Dzungaria= North of the mountains with Kuldja, in the Ili region, and Urumchi) helped them in cutting communications between China and Kashgaria (Kashgaria = South of the mountains, with Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan, Turfan,Aksu and Yangi Hissar) and in 1864 Khodja family and their supporters dominated the region. Dungans soon controlled Kansu and Dzungaria. In 1870 an independent government was established in Ili region. Russia ocupated the Ili Valley in 1871/72. Before 1876 Kansu and Dzungaria were reconquered by chinese general governor Taso Tsung Tang. Yakub Beg was born in Kokand and was send to East Turkestan by Kokand Khan acompaining to burzurg Khan kodja in 1865 and with the mission of conquer the last chinese positions. Yakub has good military skills and Buzurng tried to eliminate him. Yakub started give a coup d'Etat against his sovereign (khodja) amd took power (1866) using the red flag with half moon and star. Yakun conquered Khotan and Kashgary Yarkand, and was recognized by the Othman Caliphate in 1866. Yakub recognized the sovereignity of Kokand khanate (1866-1873) but after 1873 was in fact independent. Yakub was defeat by Taso Tsung Tang in the spring of 1877 and died under strange circumstances. Kashgar was occuped by the chinese in December of same year. In first months of 1878 China completed the conquest of the old Yakub Beg domains.

In 1870 same flag is known in Yarkand

No flag is known for the other muslim state: the sultanate of Xieng Hong (historical dates requested!)

Sultanate of Ta Li or Yunnan (1857-73). The Sultanate was born from a muslim revolt in Yunnan in 1856. A flag is not know but is know a standart of Sultan Tu Wen Hsiao. Unfortunately only a black and white image is available, and color is not known (flag is of unknown color, probably green or red, with with chinese signs in the fly vertical half and arabic characters in the hoist vertical part, between both is a vertical white narrow band )

Last sultanate that I know is Kweichow that seems that has a white flag. A Sultanate also arose from a muslim revolt directed by the sect of White Lotus.
Jaume Ollé, 12 April 2001