Goal of Journey

Preliminary Report on the Trip Undertaken by Imperial Order Across Chinese Turkestan and the Northern Provinces of China to Peking in 1906–07 and 1908 by Col. Baron Mannerheim

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In the spring of 1906 soon after my coming back from the war, the Chief of the General Staff proposed that I undertake a journey from Russian Turkestan across Western China, the provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi and Shanxi up to Peking [Beijing].

The goals of my business trip were:

  • To collect information and military statistical materials in the region paying special attention to China behind the Great Wall.
  • To clarify to what extent the recently adopted reforms have influenced the state of affairs in the region.
  • To find out information relating to the preparations of the country’s defence, relocation and troop training.
  • To study the intensity of colonization by the Chinese of the provinces crossed by me as well as reforms carried out by the central government in the system of administrative management.
  • To assess the general condition of the population, its attitude to Chinese policy, political movements in regions or in local tribes striving towards self-government, the role of the Dalai Lama in such movements, the population’s opinion concerning Russia and Japan as well as the scope of Japanese influence in all activities undertaken by the Chinese government.
  • To study the routes to Kashgar and then Lanzhou and Peking [Beijing] in terms of the accessibility for our cavalry detachments and others and the transport of three types of weapons to Lanzhou.

In addition to the above instructions, some more specific tasks were set, such as:

  1. To survey the road Kashgar – Gulja-davan – Uch-Turfan and along the Toshkan River.
  2. To investigate the Toshkan River basin from its source in the mountains to its emptying into the Yarkand River in terms of arranging the defense line.
  3. To make a military and statistical description of the Aksu oasis.
  4. To study the way from Aksu to Gulja across the Muzart pass.
  5. To study the Yulduz Valley.
  6. Exploration of the readiness of the town of Lanzhou for possible future use.

I left Petersburg in late June and arrived in Tashkent on July 5 where I met the army group commander General-Lieutenant Subbotich and Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the region General-Major Markov. They did not give me any new instructions. It took me several days to supply me with the necessary supplies and equipment and I left Tashkent only on July 13 for Samarkand with the Cossacks of the Second Ural Cossack regiment assigned by the Imperial Order to participate in the expedition.

In Samarkand I recruited two Cossacks, viz. Ignati Yunusov and Shakir Rakhimjanov. I went to the town of Andijan by railroad and from there by horses to the town of Osh where I arrived on July 16.

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CITATION: Mannerheim, Col. C.G.E. (transl. Eric Walberg and Anatoli Koroteyev, and ed. Eric Enno Tamm) “Preliminary Report on the Trip Undertaken by Imperial Order Across Chinese Turkestan and the Northern Provinces of China to Peking in 1906–07 and 1908.” In Collection of Geographical, Topographical and Statistical Materials for Asia 81. St. Petersburg: Military Publishing House, 1909. http://horsethatleaps.com/report.