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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 07, 1958

MEMORANDUM ON A DISCUSSION HELD BY THE CONSUL-GENERAL OF THE USSR IN ÜRüMCHI, G.S. DOBASHIN, WITH THE SECRETARY OF THE PARTY COMMITTEE OF THE XINJIANG UYGHUR AUTONOMOUS REGION, COMRADE LÜ JIANREN

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    Lü Jianren briefs Dobashin on calls for an independent Uyghur republic.
    "Memorandum on a Discussion held by the Consul-General of the USSR in Ürümchi, G.S. DOBASHIN, with the Secretary of the Party Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Comrade LÜ JIANREN," January 07, 1958, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGANI, fond 5, opis 49, delo 130, listy 49-53. Translated by David Brophy. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/175898
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Consulate-General of the USSR in Ürümchi

10 January 1958

No. 2

Memorandum on a Discussion

Held by the Consul-General of the USSR in Ürümchi, G. S. Dobashin, with the Secretary of the Party Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Comrade Lü Jianren

January 7, 1958

As I had tentatively planned to do, I visited the Party Committee and held a discussion with Lü Jianren [吕剑人] on the work of Party Committee’s expanded plenum, where the question of the struggle against local nationalism is being discussed.

Speaking in confidence, Lü Jianren outlined the following. A report was presented by the Chair of the People's Committee of the Autonomous Region, Säypidin Äzizov, “On the Conduct of the Campaign to Rectify the Style of Work among Cadre Workers from the National Minorities,” and currently a discussion of this report is taking place in groups. In the course of the discussion it has become evident that some workers from among the national minorities show disgruntlement toward the Chinese workers, and do not wish to collaborate with them, justifying this on the basis that they are themselves in a position to construct and promote the economy of their region.

Certain workers view the Communist Party of China as a party that defends only the interests of the Chinese nationality. They claim that the CCP is basically Chinese in its national composition, and that it violates the rights of national minorities. They view Chinese leading workers as conduits for CCP policy in the autonomous region. Some of them insist on the establishment of an independent Republic of Uyghuristan, maintaining that they can create socialist society independently.

Some consider that China is not in a position to offer assistance to Xinjiang, citing Mao Zedong, who has more than once emphasized that China is a poor and backward country with respect to its economy and culture.

The exploration and extraction of natural resources, as they erroneously view it, has as its goal the export of natural resources to the interior regions of China.

In his report, S. Äzizov convincingly demonstrated what great support the CCP and the Central Government have provided and continue to provide to the autonomous region. The Chinese People's Government has already invested 1.3 billion yuan in the autonomous region’s economy. The Karamay oilfields cannot meet the needs of the autonomous region, leading therefore to the supplementary import of fuel from elsewhere in the country, and also from the Soviet Union.

On the question of who among the leading workers hold such nationalist views, Lü Jianren replied that the most serious nationalist views manifest in the figure of Ziya Sämädi, head of the Department of Culture, who in his pronouncements calls for the creation of an Uyghur republic, declaring that the CCP has abandoned the principles of Marxism-Leninism in resolving the national question. To this category one can also assign deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of the Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Abdurehim Äysa, head of the Department of Internal Affairs Ibrahim Turdi, and deputy head of the Department of Education Qurbanov. Also extremely nationalistically inclined is the mayor of the city of Ürümchi, Abdurehim Said, who has suggested expelling the Chinese from the city and populating it with Uyghurs.

Lü Jianren went on to say that the secretary of the Party Committee, Säypullaev, and head of the Department of Education, Zakirov, who recently arrived from Beijing (where they had studied in the Higher Party School), have yet to sufficiently rid themselves of nationalist views, despite the fact that Säypullaev was subjected to criticism for nationalist views during his studies in the Higher Party School.

Not only do the local nationalists not wish to live and work with the Chinese, but they do not wish to live alongside the other nationalities of the autonomous region.

Two tendencies were clearly demarcated at the plenum: the first – for the creation of an independent Uyghur republic, and the second – for the creation of a republic along the lines of the Soviet Union republics.

Some of the local nationalists declare that in case of the impossibility of creating one or other of these republics, then they will insist on greater nationalization of the local organs of power, i.e. on the departure of a section of the Chinese cadre workers from Xinjiang, and their replacement by Uyghurs.

On the question of the history of the emergence of the question of local nationalism, Lü Jianren replied that last year at the discussion on the national question in the city of Qingdao, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of the XUAR Ishaqov expressed his support for the creation of an Uyghur republic.

During this discussion, Comrade Zhou Enlai emphasized that the peoples of the PRC should combine their strength to collectively construct socialist society, and that this was particularly pertinent to the national minorities.

Regarding the position of Ishaqov, Lü Jianren noted that he admits his incorrect views, but has still not fully repented of them.

Comrade S. Äzizov, chairman of the People’s Committee of the XUAR, is holding a firm line on the national question.

The local nationalists have assailed not only the Chinese comrades, but also S. Äzizov, who, as they regard it, has betrayed the national interest and capitulated to the Chinese.

They are trying to slander S. Äzizov and members of the Party Committee and CCP Central Committee, declaring that the CC doesn’t know the concrete situation in the autonomous region, and that the Communist Party should be built on the basis of nationality.

In light of the fact that our conversation touched on the views of local nationalists toward the question of party construction on a national basis, I discussed the struggle with similar views in the Russian Social-Democratic Workers Party, in particular with the analogous views of the Bund.

Lü added that apart from a section of the cadre workers, nationalist views also occur among the intelligentsia, and particularly among teachers and some students.

An overwhelming majority of these representatives of the intelligentsia derive from the bourgeois-landlord milieu.

Nationalistic pronouncements also manifest among some teachers in institutes of higher learning, who claim that before liberation Xinjiang supposedly had sovereignty and was independent, but that one couldn’t say the same about the present state of the XUAR.

Nationalist views find their most serious expression in the Xinjiang Institute of Nationalities, and in the pedagogical and philological institutes.

Many citizens of the local national minorities are expressing their dissatisfaction and complaints to members of delegations from capitalist as well as fraternal countries.

On the question of how local Soviet citizens are reacting to the measures currently being implemented, Lü replied that the majority of the 10 workers who were previously trained in the Soviet Union (among them some Soviet citizens) have incorrect ideas about the concrete circumstances of realizing the nationality policy in the autonomous region, and were therefore making incorrect statements. Lü said, however, that they were currently leaving the Soviet citizens alone.

As an example, Lü cited an engineer who works in the Xinjiang oil administration. Along with this he noted that the incorrect views of Soviet citizens do not have a serious nature, and consist of the blind importation of the experience of the USSR into Xinjiang.

I requested that Lü Jianren keep the Consulate-General informed about the opinions of Soviet citizens, when such facts become available.

In reply to a question on the subject, Lü said that judging from materials at their disposal, it was possible that there were nationalist organizations in the autonomous region.

Toward the end of our conversation, Niu Tiyi noted that judging from the comments on S. Äzizov’s report, and reactions to its theses which were published in the press, one may classify the population of the autonomous region into three groups: 1) The absolute majority, who approve of S. Äzizov’s report; 2) A group of people for whom the speech of S. Äzizov may provide clarity on questions of nationalities policy; 3) An insignificant number of people who oppose the positions outlined in S. Äzizov’s report.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Lü Jianren noted that the plenum had already lasted more than 20 days, and even now it was hard to say when it would conclude. The struggle with local nationalism, he said, will not be confined to the single plenum now under way; it will continue, and in future a whole range of measures will be adopted; the plenum itself is only the beginning of this struggle.

I thanked Lü Jianren for this interesting and substantial information.

Vice-consuls A. P. Kireev, E. A. Ivanov, and deputy responsible secretary of the Party Committee Niu Tiyi took part in the discussion.

Dragoman N. G. Natashin translated and took notes on the discussion.

Consul-General of the USSR in Ürümchi G. Dobashin

[…]

8.I.58.

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