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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 27, 1955


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    Transmission of the Municipal Committee State Enterprise Department’s report on actions of humiliation and mockery of North Korean trainees, October 8, 1955.
    "Shanghai Municipal Committee Comments on the Municipal Committee State Enterprise Department’s ‘Report on the Working Conditions of North Korean Trainees in this Municipality’s Factories'," October 27, 1955, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Shanghai Municipal Archives A36-2-92, 1-6. Obtained by Liang Zhi and translated by Neil Silver.
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 Sent to:  Industrial party committees, district committees, all Municipal Committee departments, commissions, all Municipal People’s Committee offices, all enterprise bureau party committees, the Labor Bureau Party Committee

Copies to:  Jiefang Ribao [Liberation Daily] publisher, Xinhua News Agency Branch, Municipal People’s Committee General Office and the Foreign Affairs Office

We are transmitting to you the Municipal Committee State Enterprise Department’s “Report on the Working Conditions of [North] Korean Trainees in Our Municipality’s Factories”.  The Municipal Committee believes the problems reflected in the report are extremely important.  The ugly actions of humiliation and mockery of [North] Korean trainees is a reflection of bourgeois nationalist ideology and cannot be tolerated.  It has come to this situation primarily because the concerned party organizations and trade unions in various  factories ordinarily do not pay attention to the work of training trainees from fraternal countries, lack ideological leadership, and have not well implemented education among workers.  This must be recognized:  Any treatment of trainees from fraternal countries based on incorrect attitudes can influence the unity of our relations with fraternal countries, and can even lead to serious political mistakes.  For this reason, we specially instruct the State Enterprise Department to immediately convene a special meeting to propose measures to overcome errors through criticism and self-criticism, examination of errors committed, and determination of the sources of errors.  Going forward you must strengthen the internationalist education of workers, leading them to understand that they must help the trainees with their studies based on a spirit of self-sacrifice and with a positive, warm and sincere attitude.  The opinions expressed in the State Enterprise Department’s report are correct, and all concerned units must resolutely implement them.

Chinese Communist Party Shanghai Municipal Committee

October 25, 1955

Report Concerning the Situation of [North] Korean Trainees in Our Municipality’s Factories

[To the] Municipal Party Committee:

    Since 1953, a total of 802 [North] Korean trainees have successively trained in our municipality’s factories (among which, 498 have been assigned to state-run factories, 88 to collectively-run factories, 205 to privately-run factories, six to military-run factories, and five to the China Printing and Paper Company and the Aquatic Products Company).  Through August 30 of this year, 268 have finished their studies and returned [to North Korea], while 534 are still training in our municipality’s factories.  These trainees have been assigned respectively to apprentice in the ship-building, machine-building, light chemical, hardware, tanning, spinning and weaving, food stuffs, electroplating, and printing and dyeing industries.  This August we carried out a relatively all-encompassing investigation of foreign trainee work in all these factories.  Concerned factories generally pay serious attention to the trainee task, with most factories able to finish their training mission according to the scheduled plan, but many serious problems remain in this work.  The main ones are:

  1. Among many factory leaders, there is insufficient understanding of the important political significance of the work of training trainees, they don’t carry out this work conscientiously, and, though there are such organizations as trainee guidance committee, they become a pure formality, and, when problems arise, just shift around responsibility.  Some factories establish overly-ambitious, unrealistic trainee plans.  For instance, the Xin Zhonghua [New China] Knife and Scissors Factory originally planned that everybody [i.e., trainee] would study and master the techniques of all aspects of their work, with the result that none of the aspects of work were learned well, and [the plan] had to be changed such that everybody learned only one aspect of the work, leading to a lengthening of the training period.  The trainee plans of some factories are not set in a timely way, and, in reaction, trainees say that, “After we finish today, we don’t know what we’ll be doing tomorrow.”  Importantly, various factories are generally deficient in political-ideological leadership with respect to [their] trainee work, and do not carry out in a timely way help and education with respect to some of the trainees’ incorrect ideas and conduct antithetical to operational order.  Trainees assigned to privately-run factories complain about the irregular, start-and-stop nature of the production task, saying:  “If a work task is not assigned, how can the Chinese government ask us to train?”  In the face of these complaints, we have not offered a good explanation.  Not enough attention has been paid as well to their safety during production, and there has been a rise in industrial accidents among trainees.  For instance, trainee [Huang Chengjia] lost a finger in the milling machine gear at the Shanghai Boiler Factory.  The work of evaluating the technique of trainees has also not been done very well, there is no democratic evaluation, and the significance of evaluations has not been explained very well to the trainees.  Thus, when it is done, the trainees are confused.  The fact that wages vary between state-run cotton spinning factories and some machine-building factories has also led to discontent among trainees.  There are also many unsatisfactory aspects in living arrangements for the trainees.  For example, the cotton blankets made for the trainees by the Tianshan Chemical Factory are too short, and don’t reach their feet, resulting in  the frost-bite of trainee [Lin Changde].  A trainee at the Shanghai Machine Tool Factory wound up sick in the hospital for scores of days, and the factory never sent anyone to see him.
  1. Cadres and workers lack a deep internationalist education, and there are various incorrect conceptions among cadres and workers, including serious big country chauvinism and bourgeois nationalism, and even abominable acts of humiliation and ridicule of [North] Korean trainees.  For instance, workers and staff in some factories, regarding [North] Korean trainees as having a low educational level, lacking technical skills, and being of poor political quality, blow their own trumpets, telling trainees that, “Chinese workers are the big elder brothers.”  In some workshops, cadres and skilled workers think that taking care of apprentices is an extra burden, fearing that this will negatively affect  their own [work] productivity and quality, and that they will receive lower bonuses.  Some skilled workers are only preoccupied with their own production, and throw the trainees off to the side.  In reaction, trainees say, “I’m standing sentinel for the master.”  Some skilled workers are very impatient with apprentices and, whenever something goes wrong, they curse [them as] “good for nothing,” “fool.”  Last year an older skilled worker (a party member) in the foundry shop of the Shanghai Machine Tool Factory drew a [picture of a] dog in the sand and then wrote “This is a trainee” [this case] (has already been dealt with).  Some workers in the Jiangnan Shipyard  ridiculed and hassled trainees.  On one occasion, when trainee [Shen Yuanshu] in the Shanghai Electrified Hosiery Factory was eating an onion, some workers nearby purposely covered her mouth, leaving [Shen Yuanshu] in tears, unable to finish her food.  In many factories they go so far as to curse trainees as “swine,” “country bumpkins,” “stepchildren,” and “mule-brained Koreans.”
  1. Many units merely use [note: Korean-Chinese] interpreters, neither mentoring nor educating them.  Among interpreters there are many misconceptions, and it is fairly common [for them] to think that there is no future for interpreters, to work under stress, to want to go back home, and to miss their wives, with some looking down on trainees, and fighting with and having very poor interpersonal relations with trainees.  As a consequence, some interpreters are irresponsible in their work, making many errors in interpretation, and some even do not go into the workshops.  There have even been [cases of] interpreters having sexual relations with female trainees, for instance, after interpreters Li Chunxi and Jin Jilong broke the law and violated discipline and had relations with a female trainee, one of them beat, cursed and threatened this female trainee [this case] (has already been dealt with).  Some interpreters, without regard to [their Chinese] nationality, convene and preside over trainee small group meetings, even convening and presiding over [North Korean] Workers‘ Party small group meetings.  Disregarding organizational procedures, some interpreters directly write reports to the [North] Korean Embassy regarding the condition of trainees.  Besides this, most interpreter staffing has still not been settled, wages have not been implemented in accordance with Treasury Ministry regulations, and some wages have been set too low, this being one of the reasons that interpreters work under stress.
  1. More than one third of the [North] Korean trainees in this municipality have been sent to train in privately-run factories.  Presently, there have been many instances of capitalists roping in, corrupting, and instigating discord among trainees and Chinese workers.  For instance, the boss of the Yusheng Factory told the trainees,  “You can go down and operate the machinery,” and told the skilled workers, “You should do the work yourself,” instigating discord in relations among trainees and skilled workers, and fostering dissatisfaction toward skilled workers on the part of trainees.  Just after trainees arrived at [his] factory, Yuanfeng Knitting Mill capitalist Shi Jiachang, using Japanese, told trainee [Jin Yingzhu], “If you have no money for cigarettes, I have money; as long as  the labor section approves, I can lend [it] to you,” [thereby] sowing discord in relations between the labor section and the trainee, and causing the trainee to be unhappy with the labor section.  Shi’s son-in-law also frequently invited Jin to his home to eat and drink and take pictures.  The owners of the Daming Rubber Factory bought chicken and pork every day to feed [their] trainees.  In some factories, anti-revolutionary elements have covertly carried out conspiratorial activities to damage Chinese-[North] Korean unity.  For instance, an element under surveillance at the Shanghai Shipyard told a trainee:  “[North] Korea is no good.  There are [too] few men and [too] many women” (already investigated and dealt with).  At Sizhi Yilian [United Silk Fabrics] when a trainee said that “Chinese workers unreservedly teach trainees technical [skills],” a counter-revolutionary element spread the rumor that: “[North] Korean workers then can’t teach others in this way,” sowing discord in Chinese-[North] Korean relations.   This situation demonstrates that counter-revolutionary elements and some capitalist elements opposed to reform certainly hope to and already have plotted schemes to undercut authority in the midst of this work.  All factories must maintain a high degree of vigilance.

    As the central authorities have pointed out:  the reciprocal assignment of trainees and reciprocal help in cultivating various types of talent is one of the important forms of fraternal cooperation among the countries in the socialist camp, and this work “can only be done well, and cannot be done poorly.”  In September this year the central authorities convened a reporting conference on national trainee work, and new guidance on this work will soon be issued.  Pending the issuance of new central guidance, party organizations in all factories for now should resolutely carry out the following points:

  1. Based on the spirit of the guidance in the July 25 Chinese Communist Party Central Committee comments and instructions concerning the “Notice of the Liaoning Provincial Committee on the Situation Regarding Working Conditions of Trainees and Students from Fraternal Countries in Factories and Technical Schools” (for details see “Shanghai Work” Number 23), all concerned factory party committees should once again carry out a complete and deep investigation of various existing problems in the implementation of trainee work in their units.  Now, when most trainees in various factories are on the point of winding up their studies, [factory party committees] should seriously handle workers and cadres who have engaged in acts of prejudice, humiliation, mockery and beating of trainees and have obstructed Chinese-[North] Korean unity (disciplinary action should be taken in serious circumstances, and apologies should also be proffered to trainees in [more] ordinary [cases]), and through the handling of these specific incidents, they should seriously criticize various types of incorrect thought, and thoroughly implement internationalist education of the masses of workers.  In factories where trainees are about to finish their studies, [party committees] must pledge to do this work well before the end of studies.
  1. Party committees in all concerned factories should conscientiously strengthen their leadership over political-ideological work aimed at trainees.  It must be realized that the emergence of some shortcomings in the manner of thinking of some trainees is inseparable from our insufficient attention.  Therefore, every factory, within a set period, must appropriately invite trainees to participate in our political life (such as in propaganda and education about the Five-Year Plan, the movement to economize, the movement to eliminate counter-revolutionaries, communist education, etc.), and through various political activities, help raise [their] level of political awareness.  Political instruction material for the trainees can usually be based on material already published in party papers, designating a person to make a report.  With regard to mistakes and shortcomings that arise among trainees in their day-to-day thoughts and life, they should carry out education using persuasion, and seek an appropriate resolution through joint discussion among factory party committees, comrades in charge of administration, trainees charged with administrative matters, and party small group leaders.  If there is an especially significant political problem, they should investigate the situation and report to the municipal committee [so it can in turn] ask the responsible central organization to inform the [North] Korean embassy and [have it] handle [the situation].
  1. Before winding up trainee studies, all factories should carry out a serious investigation of the situation with respect to implementation of the trainee plan and trainee achievements, and organize [their] strength to help those trainees whose achievements are still not solid to finish their trainee plans within the allotted period.  [They should] devote [their] all to the responsibility for leading production and trainee work.  As for skilled workers who shoulder training responsibility, there should no affect on their wages because they are carrying trainees; for instance, in special circumstances, if there are some who see a large influence on their wages, provision of appropriate subsidies or bonuses can be considered; on the other hand, [factories] should strengthen internationalist education aimed at skilled workers, raise their political awareness, and make them realize that the proper technical teaching of trainees is a glorious international responsibility, and help [them] resolve specific, existing issues with respect to their training of trainees.
  1. All factories should carefully handle the issue of trainee wages, making no careless proposals before a new, unified method [of payment] is announced.  For the present time, [they] should still handle [this] in accord with the Central People’s Government Foreign Trade Ministry Notice No. 54-345 [chengzhi mizi] of November 16, 1954 regarding the method for evaluating the wages of [North] Korean trainees.
  1. The period is very brief and customs are very different for trainees sent to our country for study by fraternal countries, [and] in [matters of] daily life, culture and entertainment, medicine and health, etc., all factories should especially take good care of and cherish them, providing appropriate consideration.
  1. Interpreters play a bridging role in trainee work, and all responsible factory party organizations should carefully monitor them; frequently attend to and educate them; recruit them, to the maximum extent possible, to participate in various necessary political-theoretical study and occupational-technical study; and provide timely help to appropriately resolve difficult problems in the work and life of interpreters.  Regarding the staffing pattern for interpreters, they are already included in the staffing patterns of state-run factories, and privately-run factories should await the instruction and decision of central authorities and [then] resolve [the issue].
  1. All factories should raise their guard, strengthen security work, and strictly defend against sabotage in this area by counter-revolutionary elements.  Those who have already been discovered should be immediately investigated and dealt with.  Party committees in privately-run factories which [have received] trainees from fraternal countries must also be careful to guard against the co-option and corruption of trainees by capitalists, the incitement of dissension [undermining] Chinese-[North] Korean unity by bad elements among workers and staff, and the development of similar situations.
  1. All factory party committees must resolutely implement the spirit of the central authorities’ comments and instructions regarding fraternal country trainee work “that it is only permissible to do it right, and impermissible to do it wrong”; conscientiously do good training work; make this type of work one of the political tasks in ordinary party work; list it in the political work plan; [have] all party, administrative, trade union and youth league [organizations] appoint a special person responsible to do [this work], with administrative [organs] responsible for daily, specific work; and [mandate that] trade union and youth league committees should assist party and administrative [organs] to do this work well.  In the future [the number of] trainees coming to our country will increase day-by-day, [so] concerned factory party organizations must pay maximum attention to this work, actively strengthen [their] leadership, and set up an investigative system and a reporting system (party committees must examine [the work] once a month and discuss [the work] once a quarter).  [They must] sum up the experience and what has been learned in a timely way, leading to the better completion of training of trainees in the future.  All factory party committees before year’s end must again carry out an investigation, compose a written summary, and report to us.

    If everything is appropriate in the report above, please comment and instruct all industrial sector party committees, municipal trade union federations and youth leagues, and all factory party committees to implement it.

Chinese Communist Party Shanghai Municipal Committee State Enterprise Department

October 8, 1955