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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 24, 1962


This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation

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    The Chinese Foreign Ministry protests the cross border flight from Xinjiang.
    "Memorandum Given to the Soviet Ambassador by Vice Minister Zhang Hanfu," April 24, 1962, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 118-01764-04, 9-10. Translated by 7Brands.
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Appendix I

Memorandum Given to the Soviet Ambassador by Vice Minister Zhang Hanfu

Over the past ten-plus days, in certain areas in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region which border the Soviet Union, approximately 20,000 Chinese residents have crossed the Sino-Soviet border into Soviet territory in groups, bringing with them cattle and farming implements (including collectively owned properties), without first obtaining the permission of the Chinese authorities or completing any exit formalities.

The long-term customary practice in dealing with persons crossing the border of Chinese and Soviet border defense agencies in the areas along the border is that the border defense agency of one country which catches residents of the other country entering its territory would stop them and persuade them to go back or immediately notify the border defense agency of the other country. Over the past ten-plus days, however, Soviet border defense agencies and sentry posts have failed to notify Chinese border defense agencies of the illegal entry of the said approximately 20,000 Chinese residents into Soviet territory, contradicting the customary practice that both sides have previously followed. On April 23, the head of China’s Ba-ke-tu Border Defense Post notified the responsible cadres of the Soviet border defense agency of this matter and requested assistance in finding these people and sending them back to China. The Soviet border defense agencies did not take any action.

According to some Chinese residents who crossed the border into Soviet territory and later returned to China on their own, when Chinese residents were crossing the border into Soviet territory, they not only were not stopped, but also found several gaps opened in the wire fence, making it very convenient [for them] to cross the border. Moreover, on the other side of the border, there were trucks waiting to pick them up. They were registered and promised to be assigned to summer pastures. They were also given money, grains, and assurance that they would be allowed to go to any place of their choice in three months. Also according to Chinese residents who returned, they were even received by Major General Ma-er-gu-fu [Marghub] (a Soviet citizen; he requested Chinese permission to return to the Soviet Union not long ago) on the Soviet side of the border, who once worked at the Chinese Xinjiang Yili [Ili] Military Sub-District.

Soviet comrades are fully aware that Chinese citizens must have the approval of the Chinese authorities and a visa from the Soviet Union before they can travel to the Soviet Union for personal reasons and that Soviet nationals who have settled down in China must have a visa from the Soviet Embassy or a Soviet consulate in China and the approval of the Chinese authorities before they can return to their motherland. However, over the past ten-plus days, without first obtaining the approval of the Chinese authorities or completing any exit formalities, approximately 20,000 Chinese residents have entered Soviet territory and received arrangements and reception from the Soviet Union. China cannot help but feel astonished by this.

China believes that what has happened is serious in nature, and that if nothing is done about the situation, it is very likely that evildoers will take further advantage of the situation to drive a wedge in the relations between China and the Soviet Union. This will exert an extremely adverse influence on China, on the Soviet Union, and on the friendly relations between the two nations. China and the Soviet Union are sister nations. For the sake of the friendship and unity between the two nations, the Chinese Government would like to remind the Soviet Government of the severity of said situation and hopes that the Soviet authorities will swiftly take effective action to reverse the situation and restore normalcy to the Sino-Soviet border.

Beijing, 24 April 1962