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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Tze M. Loo


During the early to mid 1930s, the Xinjiang Province in northwestern China experienced a period of sustained civil strife that eroded trust in the provincial government among local ethnic minority populations. This distress coincided with the most stable period of rule by the Guomindang (Nationalist Party) throughout the entirety of the Republic of China. This paper explores the Chinese central state’s shifting approach to governing the frontier provinces during the heart of the Nanjing Decade (1927-1937), and the ways in which both challenges from the periphery and conceptions of China’s ethnic plurality influenced the decision-making processes of ruling Han officials at the time. Drawing upon official correspondences, directives, and other documents, this paper argues that the Republican government took a measured and nuanced approach to governing the frontier regions that adapted in response to shifting challenges and demands, and strayed from the historiographical representation of rampant assimilationist. A confluence of threats emerged from Xinjiang at this time that endangered the legitimacy of Nationalist rule, Chinese territorial sovereignty, and how the codification of official ethnic minority policy within the multiethnic republic. In response to these threats, the central state under Chiang Kai-shek sought to opportunistically exert its authority in novel ways to ensure the preservation of the republic and push for relative stability along the frontier, even if some of these measures ultimately proved ineffective as war with Japan loomed.