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Ma Hongkui

Ma Hongkui

Republic of China general
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Republic of China general
Gender male
Birth Linxia County
Death Los Angeles
Education Lanzhou
Ma Hongkui
The details

Ma Hongkui (traditional Chinese: 馬鴻逵; simplified Chinese: 马鸿逵; pinyin: Mă Hóngkuí; Wade–Giles: Ma Hung-k'uei, Xiao'erjing: ﻣَﺎ ﺡْﻮ ﻛُﻮِ; March 14, 1892 – 1970) was a prominent warlord in China during the Republic of China era, ruling the province of Ningxia. His rank was Lieutenant-general. His courtesy name was Shao-yun (少雲). In 1950, Hongkui migrated to the United States, where he lived until he died in 1970.


Born in March 14, 1892, in the village of Hanchiachi, in Linxia County (known as Hezhou), Gansu. The "Who's who in China" series of books says "Taoho Hsien" (Daohe Xian) is where he was born. His father was the General Ma Fuxiang. A Hui, he graduated from Lanzhou Military Academy (AKA Gansu Military Academy) in 1909, and became commander of the Ningxia Modern Army and commander of the 7th Division after the founding of the republic. He was in Beijing until Cao Kun's presidency (1923–1924), even though he was the commander of the Ningxia Army.

He was at one point the Ningxia, Shaanxi, and Mongolia "Bandit Suppression Commander". Ma then became Commader of the Gansu "6th Mixed Brigade" in 1916.

During the Second Zhili-Fengtian War Ma Hongkui's army was reorganized into a branch of Feng Yuxiang's Guominjun forces; in 1926 Ma Hongkui was appointed as the commander of the Fourth Route Army of the Guominjun by Feng. He was also a member of the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission.

In 1927, he and Feng Yuxiang led their troops to Tongguan, Shaanxi, and countered the Northern Expedition. However, he betrayed Feng and turned to Chiang Kai-shek. During the Central Plains War of 1930, Ma Hongkui fought for Chiang Kai-shek and was appointed commander of the 64th Division; upon capturing of Tai'an, Shandong he was promoted to commander of the 15th Army. It was in 1932 when Ma Hongkui was appointed Governor of Ningxia Province, and fought the communist forces in the Shaanxi-Ningxia area for the next several years up to the all-out Japanese invasion in 1937. During Ma Hongkui's rise to power, together with his cousin Ma Hongbin and warlords Ma Bufang and Ma Buqing, they were instrumental in helping another warlord, Ma Zhongying to prevail in Gansu, because they did not want Ma Zhongying to compete with them in their own turf, so they encouraged and supported Ma Zhongying to develop his own power base in other regions such as Gansu and Xinjiang.

Second Sino-Japanese War

Chiang Kai-shek, leader of China, in the middle, meets with the Muslim Generals Ma Hongbin (second from left), and Ma Hongkui (second from right) at Ningxia August 1942.

During World War II, he took over the command of 17th Army Group. He was also the vice-commander of the 8th War Zone.

During the early 1930s, Ma received some weapons from Japan when he was fighting the communists, and met visiting delegations, but after Japan's invasion of China in 1937, he veered sharply against Japan, supporting the imam Hu Songshan in spreading anti Japanese propaganda, and sending limited amounts of troops to his cousin Ma Hongbin to fight the Japanese. Ma had allowed a Japanese military airfield and some personnel in Ningxia, but evicted them after the start of the Sino Japanese War in 1937, reaffirming allegiance to China.

When the Japanese asked the General Ma Hongkui to defect and become head of a Muslim puppet state under the Japanese, Ma responded through Zhou Baihuang, the Ningxia Secretary of the Nationalist Party to remind the Japanese military chief of staff Itagaki Seishiro that many of his relatives fought and died in battle against Eight Nation Alliance forces during the Battle of Peking (1900), including his uncle Ma Fulu, and that Japanese troops made up the majority of the Alliance forces so there would be no cooperation with the Japanese. In response, Ningxia was bombarded by Japanese war planes.

Ma Hongkui maintained a sharp watch against Japan during the war. Ma Hongkui seized the city of Dingyuanying in Suiyuan and arrested the Mongol prince Darijaya (Wade Giles : Ta Wang) in 1938 because a Japanese officer of the Kwantung Army, Doihara Kenji, visited the prince. Darijaya was exiled to Lanzhou until 1944.

In 1940, Ma Hongkui's Muslim troops took part in the Battle of West Suiyuan against Japan and their Mongol puppet state Mengjiang.

Because of fierce resistance by Ma Hongkui and Ma Bufang's Muslim cavalry, the Japanese never reached Lanzhou during the war.

Chinese Civil War

After the end of World War II, the Chinese Civil War broke out, Ma Hongkui fought for Chiang against the communists.

Ma Hongkui was in contact with the Kazakh leader Ospan Batyr, who kept him informed of events.

Ma Hongkui and his Muslim army ruled over a non Muslim majority, of about 750,000 people in Ningxia. Ningxia did not have the natural defences of Qinghai.

In March 1948, at Ichuan Peng Dehuai led Communist forces to launch a surprise attack against Hu Zongnan's forces, influcting 20,000 casualties upon them, and drove all the way with 60,000 soldiers into southern Shanxi province to reach Sichuan, General Hu requested immediate help from Governor Ma Hongkui, who sent two Muslim cavalry divisions. They defeated the Communist forces at Pao-chi and inflicted 20,000 dead upon the Communists, expelling them into Gansu.

In 1949, with communist victory certain, Ma Hongkui fled to Guangzhou (Canton) and then to Taiwan. The entire Kuomintang defences were falling apart. General Hu Zongnan ignored President Li Zongren's orders, and Ma Hongkui was furious at this. Ma Hongkui sent a telegram to Li Zongren to submit his resignation from all positions he held, and his cousin Ma Hongbin took charge of his positions. Ma Hongkui met with Chiang Kai-shek in Chongqing to plan an attack on the PLA. Ma Hongbin and his son Ma Dunjing (1906–1972) were hoodwinked by Communist promises. Ma Dunjing signed a capitulation with the PLA, then defected to the Communists. This had a domino effect on other military men in the province, who in turn defected.

Then he fled to Taiwan. Accused of "frustrating the fulfilment of the military plan" by the Control Yuan, as he failed to defeat the Communist forces in his defense area, he then moved to San Francisco with the help of Claire Chennault. In December 1950, Ma was in San Francisco. He then moved to Los Angeles where he died on January 14, 1970. At a press conferences in 1951 in the United States, Ma Hongkui urged the USA to aid the KMT in Taiwan. Ma became a rancher in the United States and bred horses.

Ma Hongkui had a son, Ma Dunjing who was also a General and official in his Ningxia government.

Chiang Kai-shek addressed Ma Hongkui as Shao Yun shixiong, which refers to the son of a friend. Chiang was a Sworn brother to Ma Hongkui's father Ma Fuxiang.

Reign over Ningxia

Ma Hongkui was extremely brutal in his reign, with executions averaging one a day; he started his reign by decapitating 300 bandits when he was appointed Governor in 1932. The other Muslim Governor Ma Bufang was reported to be good humoured and jovial in contrast to the brutal reign of Ma Hongkui. He was called a warlord by westerners.

Ma Hongkui stood out from the other provincial Governors in the degree of his strong rule over Ningxia.

Ma Hongkui, like the President of China, Chiang Kai-shek, was virulently anti communist. Whenever communists turned up in his territory they invariably ended up dead.

Ma was also credited with many achievements during his reign. His brutal method of governing managed to stamp out corruption among officials, and he was never pleased with results. He constantly drilled his peasant Muslim army in combat, who were armed with swords, spears, and rifles. His standing army consisted of 100,000, countries provided reserves of each 10,000, and he also set the draft age from 15 to 55 years old, up from 18 to 25 years old.

The Tibetans and Ma were unfriendly to each other. When the communists were closing in on Ma Hongkui, he risked being trapped between the Tibetan and Communist enemies.

Ma Hongkui's government had a company, Fu Ning Company, which had a monopoly over commercial and industry in Ningxia.

His house in Yinchuan is a tourist attraction.


General Ma Hongkui in uniform

General Ma Hongkui suffered from severe diabetes attacks, and in 1949 it was so bad he was not expected to recover. He was also reported to be among the best generals. Despite his diabetes, he was addicted to ice cream and ate it constantly.

Martial arts

Ma Hongkui personally wielded Dadao swords in combat during training with his troops. General Ma wielding a sword His soldiers battle cry was "Sha!", which means "kill!" in Chinese. Another one of his hobbies was Chinese calligraphy.

Islamic education

Ma Hongkui promoted Islamic education.

The Yihewani Imam Hu Songshan and Ma Hongkui cooperated in founding several Sino-Arabic schools in Ningxia to promote Chinese and Arabic language Islamic education for Chinese Muslims in the 1930s and 1940s. Hu Songshan became head of the Ningxia Private Sino- Arabic College at Dongdasi Mosque, which was founded by Ma Hongkui in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia province 1932. Students flocked to it from province across China after it became a public institution in the following year. Ten days prior to Ramadan's end in 1935, Ma Hongkui arranged for Chinese New Year celebrations. Hu Songshan pronounced takfir upon Ma Hongkui for this, while delivering an aggressive and fierce sermon in public. Ma Hongkui then sacked Hu from his position and exiled him. Hu then received clemency from Ma and was sent to head the Sino-Arabic Normal School in Wuzhong in 1938.


Ma Hongkui's grandfather was Ma Qianling, his father was Ma Fuxiang, his uncles were Ma Fushou, Ma Fulu, and Ma Fucai, his cousin was Ma Hongbin, and he had 6 wives and several children. His sixth wife with whom he was the closest took care of him throughout the years until his death. She arranged the building of the cemetery plot in Taipei where Ma Hongkui is buried along with his eldest son and his fourth wife.

Ma Hongkui's mother was Ma Tsai (te). He married his first wife, Liu Chieh-cheng, in 1914. As of 1948 he had three children. His mother died in 1948.

Three of his sons were Generals Ma Dunhou (Ma Tung-hou 馬敦厚), Ma Dunjing (1910–2003) (馬敦靜), and Ma Dunren (馬敦仁) in order from eldest to youngest. He also had a nephew, Ma Dunjing (1906–1972) (馬敦靖).

Ma Hongkui, and his grandson were involved in a custody dispute in 1962-61 over the grandson's daughter, who was Ma Hongkui's great granddaughter, named Mi Mi Ma who was 13 years old. Ma Hongkui was 70 at the time and was hospitalized. The dispute was taking place in a San Bernandino court.

Artifacts possessed by Ma Hongkui

A number of Chinese artifacts dating from the Tang dynasty and Song dynasty, some of which had been owned by Emperor Zhenzong were excavated and then came into the hands of Ma Hongkui, who refused to publicize the findings. Among the artifacts were a white marble tablet from the Tang dynasty, gold nails, and bands made out of metal. It was not until after Ma died, that his wife went to Taiwan in 1971 from America to bring the artifacts to Chiang Kai-shek, who turned them over to the Taipei National Palace Museum.


  • 1923–1926 Commander of the Ningxia Army
  • 1926–1930 Commander of the Fourth Route Army of the Guominjun
  • 1930 Commander of the Nationalist 64th Division
  • 1930–1931 Commander of the Nationalist 15th Army
  • 1932–1949 Chairman of the Government of Ningxia Province
  • 1938 Commander in Chief 17th Army Group
  • 1938–1941 General Officer Commanding 168th Division
  • 1944 Commander in Chief 17th Army Group

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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