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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 08, 1962

MINUTES OF THE MEETING BETWEEN VICE MINISTER ZHANG HANFU AND THE AMBASSADOR OF THE SOVIET UNION TO CHINA CHERVONENKO

This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation

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    Zhang Hanfu and Ambassador Chervonenko debate the massive flight of Chinese nationals from Xinjiang to Soviet Kazakhstan.
    "Minutes of the Meeting between Vice Minister Zhang Hanfu and the Ambassador of the Soviet Union to China Chervonenko," June 08, 1962, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC MFA 118-01765-03. P.24-28. Translated for CWIHP by 7Brands. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/118200
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[…]

Minutes of the Meeting between the Vice Minister [Zhang Hanfu] and the Ambassador of the Soviet Union to China [Chervonenko]

—The Soviet Union’s Reply to our Memorandum dated 19 May on the Massive Illegal Cross-Border Flight of Chinese Residents to the Soviet Union—

(Not reviewed by Vice Minister Zhang)

Date: 8 June 1962, 5:00 p.m.

Venue: Meeting Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Attendees: Yu Man, Deputy Director of the Department of Soviet and Eastern European Affairs

Interpreter: Wang Gaiqing

Minutes Prepared: Zhang Zifan

Ambassador Chervonenko (hereafter Chervonenko): I asked to visit you today so as to continue out previous discussions on the massive flight of Chinese residents into the territory of the Soviet Union. The Government of the Soviet Union has urged me to make the following declarations to the Chinese government (the official translation of the document is attached).

Vice Minister Zhang (hereafter Zhang): I will report to our government and reply to you after studying [the document]. I would like to say something here.

First, the Soviet Union has taken certain measures recently, as you mention in the document. We have noticed this and we appreciate such efforts.

Second, I won’t repeat the process of how, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Chinese residents illegally crossed into the Soviet Union. We have repeatedly expressed our opinions [on this matter] and we still stick to such opinions.

Third, according to normal practices, the Soviet Union is obligated to repatriate any Chinese residents who enter the Soviet Union illegally. It is against international practices to refuse repatriation on the excuse of the entrants’ reluctance to come back.

Fourth, your memorandum criticizes the Chinese government for failing to take measures to dissuade such illegal flights and even assisting such behaviors. This kind of criticism is totally groundless.

I have to say we have tried to dissuade them from the very beginning and we are still trying to dissuade them now, not only at the borders, but also wherever there are signs of illegal crossings. We have taken considerable efforts towards this end. Since the Soviet Union put measures into place several days ago, our dissuasion work has been effective. We will continue to do this in the future.

Finally, we agree on the proposals in the memorandum to restore the normal conditions at the borders between China and the Soviet Union. China and the Soviet Union are two great socialist nations bordering each other and I believe this is something good for the both of us. We hope that, instead of affecting the bilateral relations, the situation which is taking place on our borders can come to an end as soon as possible. I hope normal conditions will be resumed on our borders as soon as possible.

Chervonenko: I also believe that this is the wish of both governments. I hope the conditions [on the border] will not affect our normal and friendly relations.

Zhang: I fully agree with you.

Chervonenko: I wish to reiterate our ideas from previous documents. However, we will never accept the criticism that the Soviet Union has ruined our bilateral relations at the border with Xinjiang. I have mentioned the reasons. Second, we can neither agree nor understand why the Chinese Government has refused to dispatch its personnel to the Soviet Union to persuade those fleeing residents to come back. The Chinese representative would receive the full and positive support from the Soviet Union. This is also mentioned in today’s document. I can hardly understand why the Chinese Government has refused to do this. I believe your personnel would play an important role in persuading those Chinese residents to come back. I believe our mutual efforts would contribute to the settlement of this issue and restore normal conditions to our border. We will do our best, and we believe that you will do the same too, in order to restore the normal order. We fully agree with your good wishes to settle the issue as soon as possible.

Zhang: We have expressed our opinions well and I am not going to repeat them regarding the sources of the current dilemma. We have explained our stance in previous documents on why we do not like to dispatch our personnel to the Soviet Union to persuade the fleeing Chinese residents to come back. I don’t think I need to repeat this here. We will study your document and reply to you soon.

Memorandum Submitted by the Ambassador of the Soviet Union to Zhang Hanfu on 8 June 1962

The Government of the Soviet Union has received the statement of the Chinese Government on the large scale border crossing of residents from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region into the territory of the Soviet Union as submitted by Vice Minister Zhang Hanfu to the Ambassador of the Soviet Union to China on 19 May.

The Government of the Soviet Union has already made a statement on the facts surrounding the incident of residents of the People’s Republic of China breaking through the Sino-Soviet border on 29 April. It is not necessary to repeat the non-debatable facts. However, it is regrettable that the Chinese Government did not consider the facts and the substantiated arguments presented in the declaration of Soviet Union in its reply dated 19 May.

The Government of the Soviet Union agrees with the conclusions put forth in the declaration of the Chinese Government that bilateral cooperation is essential in order to resolve the problem of the sudden and large-scale border crossing of residents of the People’s Republic of China. The Government of the Soviet Union has wished to settle the problem through mutual cooperation from the very beginning. Cherishing such wishes, the Government of the Soviet Union instructed its Ambassador to China to report to the Chinese Government on the relevant issues on 23 April, immediately after the present conditions on the border were reported. At the same time, Soviet border guards notified the Chinese border authorities more than once of the incidents of large-scale border crossings and invited the Chinese border authorities to take measures to stop such border crossings. The Soviet Union has invited China to dispatch representative to the Soviet Union to persuade the border crossers to return to China with full support from the Soviet Union. But the Chinese Government has not wished to cooperate with us. The fact is that the Chinese Government has failed to take the necessary measures to stop incidents of illegal entry from Chinese territory to the Soviet Union.

In the declaration of the Chinese Government dated 19 May, it seems that the Chinese Government is making efforts to stop such border crossings and plans to continue such measures. However, the flow of border crossers from China has not seemed to decrease, putting the Soviet Union in a rather awkward situation. It is notable that many of the border crossers have claimed that they refuse to return to China, arguing that the large-scale flight of residents occurred mostly during the day under the supervision of local authorities who, moreover, did nothing to obstruct [the movement]. Additionally, some incidents demonstrate that local authorities in China have even assisted Chinese citizens with going to the Soviet Union by providing transportation and delivering them to the border. Such assistance has been particularly obvious over the past several days.

The Soviet Union has taken measures and is taking [other] measures to stop the illegal border crossings from the territory of the People’s Republic of China and for that purpose has reinforced its border troops by several folds at in this region. However, our measures do not seem to have worked effectively because the Chinese Government has failed to take effective measures (the restoration of normal order at the border depends mainly on the efforts of the Chinese Government). Instead, you have only made certain oral promises. What you have done has forced us to entirely block the border with Xinjiang so as to stop such illegal border crossings. At the same time, we expect the Chinese Government to take appropriate measures to alter the situation because we do not believe that it is normal for fraternal nations to have shared borders which are entirely blocked off.

We expect that normal order will be restored at our border through our mutual efforts and that such unpleasant experiences at our border will come to a conclusion as soon as possible.

7 June 1962