Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/147

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NEGLECTED OPPORTUNITIES.

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be doubted that a bold advance of the Dungans might have threatened the tranquillity, nay, perhaps the existence, of the Celestial Empire, and certainly that of the reigning Manchu dynasty. Moreover, provinces of China further south were at the same time disturbed by the revolts of the Taepings and of the Yunnan Mahommedans, though these had no connection with the north-western movement, of which we are speaking. Thus the Peking government was threatened by great calamities both from the south and from the west; but none of her enemies knew how to avail themselves ot their first successes, and thus China had time to recover herself, and afterwards, in her turn, to assume the offensive.

Another important element of success was entirely disregarded by the insurgents, and that was to gain the good will of the Mongols, who so bitterly detest the Chinese.

The two races, alien as they are from each other in character and religion, would have found a bond of union in their common struggle for freedom; but from the very first the Dungans ill-used the Mongols, and treated them exactly as they did the Chinese, so that these desirable allies were effectually estranged.

But victory could never have declared for the rebels unless they had acted under one leader. Here they entirely failed. Every large town or district carried on an independent system of warfare under its own chief, whether Akhun or Hadji.[1] The

  1. Thus, in Kan-su, the towns of Si-ning, Tatung and Suh-chau, with their districts, were entirely independent of one another.