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Barbarians at the Gate Podcast: Yaqub Beg and the Provincializing of Western China

Veselovski-1898-Yakub-Bek

Muhammad Yaqub Beg (1820-1877) was an adventurer and soldier of fortune who led a massive rebellion against the Qing Empire in what is today Western China. From his humble origins as a petty mercenary, he exploited a weakened Qing Empire and carved out a kingdom in the desert and drew the attention of the world’s great powers. Ultimately, his rebellion was crushed by Qing forces led by General Zuo Zongtang (of the eponymous chicken dish) and his demise paved the way for the provincializing of Xinjiang.

In this episode of Barbarians at the Gate, Jeremiah and James look at the life and times of this daring adventurer and what his legacy means for China today.