As a part of China,Xinjiang not only has its longstanding history, but also had relations with the inland China even in the very ancient times.
In the time of Jing Dynasty, a rare book of wooden tablets was unearthed in the Ji County. The book said that King Mu of Zhou Dynasty toured to the Western Regions by a cart of 8 strong and pretty horses. He went up to the Kunlun Mountains and met with the Queen of Western Regions at the lake of Yaochi. About the legend, there is a poem that has been read b the people now, though it is a piece of literature work, offers us the information about communications between the Inland China and the Western Regions of the Early Qing Times.
In the time of the third year of Jianyuan(138 BC) and the time of the forth year of Yuanshou(119 BC), Zhang Qian, a general of the Western Han Dynasty, ordered by Emperor Wu, visited the Western Regions for two times. In spite of all kinds of hardships, he and his mission visited many kingdoms of the Regions, such as Wusun Yutian, Yueshi, Dawan and Kangju. In the history books, Zhang Qian's mission was recorded as Opening the way to the Western Regions. Since then, the name of the Western Regions was recorded in the ancient Chinese literature. And there are two senses about the name, the narrow and the wide. And in different times, the areas of the Western regions were different. However, its main area lies in the territory of present Xinjiang.
Around the year of 131, BC, the Han Dynasty established the four counties in the area of Hexi Corridor, which opened the way of the central government of the Han Dynasty to manage the Western Region, and in the year of 50, BC, the Han Dynasty established the Administration Office of the Western Regions, and the orders of the Han Curt started to be implemented in the regions.
During the Qing and Han Times, there were many local kingdoms, which were relatively independent to each other, in the present Xinjiang, which were recorded as "town kingdom" and "moving kingdom" in the history books of the time. Town kingdoms refer to those kingdoms with towns and settled residents, developed in the oasis area south to Tianshan Mountains, whose subsistence depended mainly on farming and herding. The size of town kingdoms varied, and the big one had thousand families with more than ten thousand people, the small one only had hundreds of families with thousands of people. Of the town kingdoms, Loulan, Qiuci were very famous. The history books of the time said there were 36 kingdoms in the Western Regions. In fact, this figure was not accurate. The number was more than 36, maybe it was more than 50. The so-called moving kingdoms refer to those nomadic kingdoms, which were characteristic of herding animals by migration, looking for water and pastures, and whose subsistence mainly depended on herding and hunting. The most famous one of then was Wusun Kingdom of the time of Han Dynasty, whose two princesses, Xinjun and Jieyou, married to the rules of the kingdom.
After the Han Times and during the Dynasties of Wei, Jing and the Northern and Southern Dynasties (around the third to sixth centuries, AD), the Inland China still kept the relations with the Western Regions although the situations in the former area were in turmoil. And all the Dynasties established their administrative offices and sent their officials in and to the Regions, and the system of prefecture and country that was implementated in the Inland China began to be implemented in the Regions.
During the Sui and Tang Times, with the realization of the unified domain of the Inland China, the central governments enhanced the administration in the Western Regions. The Western Regions Office and the Beiting Office were the supreme administrative offices established in the regions by the Tang Empire and with them; the Tang Dynasty had its orders implemented in the Regions.
In the mid 9th century, the Uigurs that had lived in the Erhun River Valley, hit by natural disasters and attacked by the Jirgas(ancestors of the Kirkiz), were forced to migrate southward or westward and most of the Uigurs entered the area of the Western Regions, where they established Anxi Uigur Kingdom. Their head, Pontqin, appointed himself as the Khan (the king) and acknowledged the kingdom as an allegiance to the Tang Empire, and the Emperor of the Tang conferred the king as a ruler. Later, Anxi Uigurs expanded their territory onto the areas to South and North Tianshan Mountains and they mixed with the natives of the areas, thus changing the map of the ethnic composition of the Regions.
At the end of the Tang and the beginning of the Song Dynasties, several local kingdoms or Khanates were established in the Regions, such as Kara-Khanate, Yutian Kingdom and Gaochang Uigur Kingdom. At the end of the 10th century, wars started between Kara-Khanate and Yutian Kingdom, and the latter was defeated and became a part of the former. However, these kingdoms and Khantes kept relations with the Inland China. And the Khan of Kara-Khanate named the territory he ruled as down China and called himself as Taohuashi Khan, meaning he was the head of the down China.
In the year of 1124, the Liao Dynasty was defeated by the Jin Dynasty, and the Khitan Emperor, Yelbdashi, established the Western Liao Dynasty in the Western Regions, covering a vast area, including the areas of Balkash Lake and Zaisang Lake in present Kazakhstan. In the year of 1284, Chengis-khan led the Mongol army to overthrow the Liao and the Mongol Yuan Dynasty began its rule over the Western Regions. Yuan Dynasty attached great importance to the management of the Regions in its about one hundred years existence. And the Yuan Court established the administration system at a provincial level as it did in Inland China. At the turn of Yuan Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, the Chagatai Khanate, the descendents of Mongol rulers, broke into several parts and after the unity of China by the Ming Dynasty, they submitted themselves to the Ming Court one by one. And the Ming Court sent officials to inspect the Western Regions and the officials wrote many records of the regions and they are reliable.
When the Manchuans established the Qing Dynasty and began to rule the then China, some members of the ruling group of Zhunagr Mongols took the chance and ruled the Western Regions and the head of Zhungar Mongols, such as Gardan, Amursana, and Khojar of South Xinjiang started many rebellions against the Qing Dynasty, and the rebellions damaged the stability of the Qing frontier area. In the year 1785, Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty sent troops to put down the rebellions and finally reunited the regions to the Qing China. In the year of 1762, the Qing Court established the Yili General Office at Huiyuan, which was the highest body for administration and military affairs of the Regions. Meanwhile, the Qing Court practiced the sustems of Beg (the local rulers in the Uigur area) and Zasak (the local rulers in Kazak and Mongol areas) to manage the areas where the local ethnic peoples lived.
After the Opium War, the Russian and British powers expanded their influence in Xinjiang. And the domestic troubles and foreign aggression led Xinjiang into agreat disastrous turmoil. The Czar Russia occupied a large area of Xinjiang territory. In 1864, with the support of British Empire, Aghub Bek of Hokhan led his army to invade Xinjiang and established Zhedesar Khanate. The Qing Court ordered Zuo Zongtang, a high ranking official, to lead the army to defeat Aghub Bek and recovered South Xinjiang in 1878. And in 1881, the Qing Court regained the Yili area that was occupied by Czar Russia. In 1884, the Qing Court made an important decision that Province System should be established in the regions, and the name of Xinjiang was given to the regions, which meansthe old territory was regained. Under the province, four prefectures were established: Zhengdi, Aksu, Kashgar and Yili-Tarbahatai. And the political center was moved from Yili to Dihua(the present Urumqi).
In the year 1911, the Revolution to overthrow the Manchu Qing Dynasty broke out in China and a new page of Xinjiang was opened. In 1949, people's Republic of China was Founded and the Central Government decided that the regional national autonomy system should be established in Xinjiang and on the first of October, 1955, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was founded. It was from then that Xinjiang entered a new age.