Ma Fushou (simplified Chinese: 马福寿; traditional Chinese: 馬福壽; pinyin: Mǎ Fúshòu) (26 August 1836 – 24 November 1922),a Hui born in Yunnan, was the son of General Ma Qianling. He joined the martial arts hall and attended military school after three years of training in 1857.
He then assisted General Zuo Zongtang, as a lieutenant, in crushing the rebel Muslims during the Dungan revolt (1862–77). In 1877, he and Ma Zhanao expelled Muslim rebels, who refused to give up the fight, from the hills around Hezhou and Ma was promoted to general.
During the Sino-French War of 1885, Ma was sent with reinforcements to Taiwan, where he participated in combat operations against the French. After the war, he was sent to Lushunkou, where he was assigned to command the newly constructed base for the Beiyang fleet.
After the success of China’s first imperial naval review in 1891, he was reassigned to command troops in Tianjin. During this period, he was active in suppressing various minor revolts against the Qing Dynasty, from which he was awarded the title of taiyuan (brigadier general) in 1892. In 1893, at the request of Li Hongzhang, Ma conducted an inspection tour of the Manchurian borders with Russia and Korea, with the aim of planning strategies for potential combat operations.
In April 1894, Ma was recalled from Manchuria due to the worsening situation in Korea vis-à-vis the Empire of Japan. By order of Li Hongzhang, he landed with a detachment of 800 soldiers in Asan, Korea on 9 June 1894, where he constructed fortifications and made forays to suppress the activities of the Donghak rebels in the surrounding provinces.He was noted for implementing strict discipline in his forces to prevent looting and violence against the local civilian population.
Reinforcements brought his command to 3,800 troops. However, the Japanese had occupied Seoul and Incheon by the end of July with approximately 30,000 troops. On 27 July, after receiving information about the Battle of Pungdo, and realizing that neither reinforcements nor retreat would be possible by sea, Ma decided to withdraw his forces by a circuitous route to Pyongyang to avoid becoming trapped at Asan.
However, on 29 July, a Japanese combat brigade led by General Oshima Yoshimasa attacked his positions in the Battle of Seonghwan. Ma lost approximately 500 men in the engagement, along with his artillery and most of his stores, but the remainder of his forces escaped to Pyongyang. Using his good relations with the local population, he was able to avoid the bulk of the Japanese army during his escape.
On 3 September, after reviewing the defenses of Pyongyang, Ma departed for Tianjin on an unsuccessful mission to request reinforcements. Ordered back to Pyongyang, he was still travelling when he received word of the Chinese defeat at the Battle of Pyongyang. Ma was subsequently in the Battle of Jiuliancheng, where his forces were assigned to the Chinese flank at the village of Hushanqian (虎山), which bore the brunt of the Japanese assault of 24 October. His forces mostly deserted their posts, and Ma escaped with the remnants to Dandong and then to Fenghaungcheng.
He burned the city on 30 October rather than to let it fall into Japanese hands, and moved north to block the path of the Japanese advance towards Mukden. He was promoted to the rank of captain general for his efforts. On 12 February 1895, he was withdrawn to Shanhai Pass, the critical point in the route to Beijing, and took no further combat role.
After the war, in 1899, his army was restructured and renamed as Wuwei Front Troops. Trained by Russian military advisers and equipped with German and Russian weaponry, it was considered the most modern of the Qing armies of the time. Ma fought against the foreign Eight Nations alliance in the Boxer Rebellion, defeating the 2,157 men of the Seymour Expedition at the Battle of Langfang (June 18, 1900), with his 6,000 Wuwei Front troops and 20,000 Boxers. The foreign troops had seven dead and 57 wounded. The Wuwei Front troops lost 200 men and the Boxers another 200.
Aided by his appealing personality, Ma became a national hero in China for combating the foreigners. In 1911, when the Xinhai Revolution erupted, he led over 20 battalions of Hui Muslim troops to defend the Qing dynasty by attacking Shaanxi, which was held by the revolutionaries under Zhang Fenghui, and defeated the revolutionaries in combat.
To reward Ma's loyalty to the court, the Empress Dowager Longyu gave Ma the noble title Marquis of the First Rank (等侯), an honour only previously given to 19th century General Zeng Guofan for his raising of the Xiang Army to suppress the Taiping Rebellion. When the Qing emperor Puyi abdicated, Ma started working for Yang Zengxin and was posted in 1916 to Kashgar, as the commander of 2,000 Hui soldiers, and in 1917, he defeated bandits at Zuuqa temple.
Ma's reign in Kashgar was notorious for its repressiveness and his excesses. Ma kept a harem of Uighur wives, and a hay cutting machine for severing the limbs of his victims. The limbs were put on display along with notices on why they were severed on the city walls. He also established government monopolies over industries such as petroleum, and made people purchase paraffin wax. Ma also demanded that people call him Padishah, which meant king.
Yang Zengxin decided that Ma's excesses were too great, and sent Ma Shaowu, another Hui military commander, to attack and replace him. Ma Shaowu attacked Ma, and then personally executed him by shooting him after receiving a telegram from Yang Zengxin. Ma's body was tied to a cross to be put on display. Ma Shaowu then was appointed Daotai of Kashgar.