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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 22, 1958

MEMORANDUM ON A DISCUSSION WITH WANG HUANGZHANG, HEAD OF THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS OFFICE OF THE PREFECTURAL PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE

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    Wang Huangzhang reports on "local nationalism" in Xinjiang and poor agricultural conditions in the region.
    "Memorandum on a Discussion with Wang Huangzhang, Head of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Prefectural People's Committee," January 22, 1958, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGANI, fond 5, opis 49, delo 130, listy 61-64. Translated by David Brophy. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/175899
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[…]

From the diary of G. P. Blokin

22 January 1958

Memorandum on a discussion

With Wang Huangzhang, Head of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Prefectural People’s Committee

Our conversation took place in my apartment on January 22. I informed Wang about the work of the Society of Soviet Citizens’ conference of county plenipotentiaries, provided him with the text of the plenipotentiaries’ speeches and the Society’s resolution on the plenipotentiaries’ work, and asked him after acquainting himself with these to offer his opinions on the substance of the questions touched upon.

I then inquired as to how things were going for Wang in Khorgos County, where he is responsible for implementing socialist education and regulating the cooperatives, and if there was any news in the recent period.

Wang told me that at the expanded plenum of the Autonomous Region Party Committee in Ürümchi, a struggle with local nationalists was developing, and that the period of the plenum had already been extended by one month. A particularly fierce struggle was being waged against a group of leading workers from the national minorities, among whom nationalism has manifested most seriously. These include Ziya Sämädov, head of the Department of Culture, Ibrahim Turdi, head of the Department of Internal Affairs, Saidi, chairman of the metropolitan People’s Committee, Abdurehim Äysaev, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of the Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, and others, totaling more than 10 individuals. Most notably, Abdurehim Äysaev had become so implicated in crimes against the party and the people that he decided to end his life by suicide. On 17 January 1958, when his comrades went out for breakfast in the canteen, Äysaev cut his throat in the dormitory. A number of accusations had been brought against Äysaev. Chief among them were struggle against the CCP and the CPSU; Äysaev called for the creation of an independent Uyghuristan, and in so doing he did not have in mind that it would enter into the composition of the PRC or USSR, that is to say he considered that neither the Chinese nor the Russian Communists were carrying out a correct nationalities policy, and that there was no genuine independence in Xinjiang, nor in Uzbekistan, nor in Kazakhstan. Äysaev would say that previously the Soviet Union had helped the Uyghurs to struggle against the Chinese, but now by contrast it was helping the Chinese in a struggle against the Uyghurs. If the Han would not agree to grant the Uyghurs independence, then it would be necessary to rouse the people to an armed uprising. The Chinese are arriving in Xinjiang in large groups, Äysaev used to say, but there’s absolutely nothing for them to do here, we can get along without them by ourselves, we’ll deal with any task independently. In practice, it’s working out that cadres from the national minorities don’t have any real rights, Han cadres decide everything for them. Since the creation of cooperatives, he would say, the people started to live even worse, they became more destitute and poor.

Wang noted that during his trip with a delegation to Mecca, Äysaev established connections with American intelligence, and had several discussions with Imin, Isa [Yusuf Alptekin] Beg, and [Muhämmäd Imin] Bughra, who fled to Pakistan in 1949. An accusation was also brought against Äysaev that he received gifts and money from American intelligence. Beneath the weight of all these crimes, Wang said, Äysaev dealt with himself. Wang further pointed out that the accusations levied against him were compiled from Äysaev’s official statements and unofficial, private conversations with people close to him, who voluntarily spoke about this.

Wang emphasized that in order to prevent unnecessary gossip and discontent among local national cadres and the local population, on the evening when Äysaev’s body was brought to Ghulja, a meeting was convened of responsible cadre workers of the city of Ghulja and the prefecture administration. At the meeting, first secretary of the party Prefecture Committee Zhang Shigong [张世功], who had returned from the plenum to Ghulja on the specific instructions of the XUAR Party Committee, provided clarifications. On the next day, the People’s Political Consultative Committee of the autonomous prefecture summoned influential religious figures and entrepreneurs and gave the necessary explanations. On that same day a meeting of cadre workers of all levels was held, where Zhang Shigong presented a special report. No more than 30 of his relatives attended Äysaev’s funeral. Cadre workers did not participate in the funeral.

Wang noted that the party committee anticipated that some kind of spontaneous demonstrations might break out, and discontent would be expressed on the part of the cadres from the local nationalities, but everything went off peacefully, and the cadre workers from the local nationalities and the population received the information in an appropriate fashion.

After this Wang talked about socialist education in the village. Socialist education in the village, with all of its complications, will last for about 5-6 months, and it is proposed to conclude it in the second half of February. Socialist education in the village refers to the rectification of the style of work among the cadres and the regularization of cooperatives, with the ultimate goal of the whole task of educating the peasants to be a great increase in production. The movement is divided into four stages: the first involves carrying out the policy to “Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom,” initially among cadre workers, and then among the peasant mass. The second stage is the rectification of the style of work, and the elimination of those faults which can be quickly done away with. The third is the renewed utilization of talks and discussions, in order to complete the unfinished work of rectification. At this stage, deficiencies are conclusively brought to light, with clarification of correct and incorrect opinions. Essentially the first stage is repeated and, finally, the regularization of cooperatives is carried out in preparation for the spring sowing.

Wang emphasized that there is no distinct phase for the struggle against kulaks, landlords and other hostile elements in the village. The struggle against landlords and kulaks is carried out at the second and third stages of the campaign. Malicious spreaders of rumors, people hiding grain from the state and provoking members of the cooperative to leave the cooperatives etc. they either arrest at the request of the peasants, or they again “put the cap of kulak or landlord” on them and force them to work in the cooperative under supervision. At the request of the masses in Khorgos County around 30 people have been arrested. Apart from landlords and kulaks this number includes thieves, hooligans, embezzlers of cooperative and state property and other harmful elements.

In relation to idlers and traffickers, who during the summer don’t work in the cooperative, or work only very little, seeking instead to find easy income in the city, the peasants have proposed to adopt tactics of reeducation and economic pressure. If, for example, for the reasons given above a member of the cooperative has only accrued 40 working days, each workday will be compensated on average 1.5 – 2 yuan, so the idler will receive 80 yuan, which obviously won’t be enough for him to even settle his accounts for the grain drawn from the cooperative on credit in the course of 1957. He will have practically no money to pay for bread to sustain his family, which is due to him according to state rationing. In such a situation, the cooperative will provide the idler with credit in grain for a week or two, and will furnish his family with a horse and cart, so that he can engage in secondary trade and gradually pay off the bread assigned to him as per the rations. Fodder for the horse is free of charge, but the idler has to give up 40% of the money he earns to the cooperative’s account, and can then spend the rest on his needs. Since the introduction of rations for bread it has become almost impossible to leave the cooperative and go to the city without permission, because one can only receive bread rations in the city on the basis of official permission from one’s previous place of residence. The first few months have shown that the proposal of the popular masses regarding the reeducation of idlers has proven entirely effective.

In conclusion, Wang noted that despite the poor harvest this year, the autonomous prefecture had fully accomplished the plan for the state purchase of grain and for the levy of agricultural tax by the end of December. To successfully fulfill this plan under conditions in which a poor harvest had been brought in, and bread rations introduced for the whole population, could only be attributed to the wide dissemination of socialist education in the countryside.

Manager of the Consulate of the USSR in Ghulja G. Blokin […] 7.II.58

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