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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 27, 1934


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    While expressing appreciate for Sheng's role in pacifying Xinjiang and expressing their firm trust in him, Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov deny his request to join the Communist Party and express their disagreement with the opinions he expressed in his earlier letter. Citing Xinjiang's economic backwardness, they condemn the rapid implementation of Communism in Xinjiang as a "ludicrous" idea and also advise against overthrowing the Nanjing government.
    "Letter from Cdes. Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov to Governor Sheng Shicai," July 27, 1934, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGASPI f. 558 op. 11 d. 323, l. 12-21. Obtained by Jamil Hasanli and translated by Gary Goldberg.
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to Mr. Sheng Shicai.

We have received your letter of June 1934. We thank you for the expression of a feeling of friendship. We are glad that matters in Xinjiang are going not badly now and that peace has been restored. There is no question that Xinjiang would not have been pacified without your energetic and persistent efforts.

We are accustomed to telling it like it is. We want to also tell you the entire truth about the content of your letter.

1. We consider the opinion about the need for the rapidest possible implementation of Communism in Xinjiang to be incorrect. Xinjiang is a backward country, it still does not have industry, it has almost no working class, and culturally it is at a low level. To set the goal of the rapidest possible implementation of Communism in such country means to doom oneself to an unavoidable failure and to put oneself in a ludicrous position. In no event can we approve such a policy. Only a bourgeois democratic regime can be implemented in Xinjiang, and that not right away, but gradually, by incredible efforts and persistent work, economically and culturally. This needs to be done intending not to go to extremes and not ending up as a person having high goals, but failing in practical work.

2. We also consider the opinion to be incorrect about the advisability for Xinjiang of overthrowing the Nanjing government. Whatever mistakes the Nanjing [Nanking] government has made it nevertheless is on a path toward fighting the foreign imperialist enemies of China. Now, when the imperialists are tearing province by province from China and trying to subject China to their influence, the task is to fight everything that can weaken China. This task is especially relevant for the leaders of such a province as Xinjiang, where there are few Chinese and open tendencies to secede from China exist. Therefore we think that Xinjiang's fight to overthrow the Nanjing government could only weaken the strength of China's resistance to its imperialist enemies. That is why we advise [you] to maintain a policy of completely loyalty with respect to the Nanjing government and a united front with it in the fight against imperialism.

3. We also do not agree that you join the Communist Party right now. We do not agree since, first, it would spoil your relations with Nanjing and, second, that would make the struggle against you by imperialist agents in Xinjiang and all sorts of separatists easier. Whoever wants to be a Communist can always be one who is such, without formally joining the Party. If the situation and prudence require you to refrain from joining the Party then you should subject yourself to the necessity for the sake of the cause of the liberation of China, knowing that it is not a Party card that makes a person a Communist, but his actual and real devotion to the idea of Communism.

4. As regards trust in you, then we should say that trust is verified by deed, but we have already shown by deed, with our aid, and advice, that we trust you completely.

As you see, utterly and completely stand on the ground of that telegram which we sent you several months ago and the instructions which we request you bear in mind in your practical work.

We consider it our duty to honestly and frankly warn you that we can support you in the future and help you only in the event that you find it possible take into consideration our comments presented in this letter.

As regards the charter of the Alliance to Fight Imperialism in Xinjiang, we consider this correct, with the exception of the paragraph about equal rights for women, which we advise removing from the charter. We think that this is premature in the conditions of backward Xinjiang with an overwhelmingly Muslim population.

Regarding all the remaining questions our opinion will be sent to you by Cde. Svanidze.

[handwritten: 27 July 1934]


I. Stalin

V. Molotov

K. Voroshilov]

[a handwritten version of the above follows]


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