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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 18, 1958

M. ZIMIANIN TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE CPSU AND TO COMRADE IU. V. ANDROPOV

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    E. I. Shalunov meets with the Chief of the Education Department of the People’s Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Comrade Zakirov, to discuss criticisms against other local leaders in XUAR and recent Party meetings.
    "M. Zimianin to the Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU and to Comrade Iu. V. Andropov," August 18, 1958, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGANI, fond 5, opis 49, delo 130, listy 164-176. Translated by David Brophy. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/175901
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[…]

18 August 1958

No. 890

To the Department of the CC CPSU Comrade Iu. V. Andropov

Here we are sending you a copy of a memorandum on a discussion held by the Consul of the USSR in Ghulja, Comrade E. I. Shalunov, with chief of the Education Department of the People’s Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Comrade Zakirov, on the internal political situation in Xinjiang.

[…]

Head of the Far-Eastern Department of the MFA USSR M. Zimianin

[…]

Consulate of the USSR in Ghulja Secret

18 August 1958

Memorandum on a Discussion

Held by the Consul of the USSR in Ghulja, Comrade E. I. Shalunov, with the Chief of the Education Department of the People’s Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Comrade Zakirov

9 July 1958

Following a reception on 21 June 1958, which was organized by XUAR People’s Committee Chairman Säypidin Äzizov on the occasion of USSR Consul-General Comrade G. S. Dobashin’s trip to Ghulja, Zakirov, who was present at this reception, approached me for a meeting. I consented to his request. The conversation took place in the consulate.

Zakirov informed me that he had come to Ghulja to acquaint himself with work in the schools, and that alongside this the XUAR Party Committee had instructed him to look into the progress of the expanded plenum of the Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Party Committee. During our exchange, Zakirov spoke about the work of the expanded plenums of both the XUAR and Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Party Committees.

The occurrence of local nationalism, Zakirov stated, was not simply an affair of the day, it has a lengthy history. After the formation of the PRC, the CCP set about in earnest to resolve the national question in China. To this end, the CCP CC and the North-west Bureau of the CC of the CCP requested the opinion of Xinjiang organizations on the question of national construction in Xinjiang. Xinjiang intellectuals actively initiated meetings to discuss the proposal of the Bureau of the CC of the CCP. In Ghulja in 1951 a meeting of 51 intellectuals took place, which examined and discussed a draft program compiled by Säypidin Äzizov on national construction in Xinjiang. In this draft the necessity of creating Uyghuristan in Xinjiang was stipulated. At that time Äzizov was in hospital, and Säypullaev led the meeting according to his instructions. Via the 5th Corpus radio, Äzizov proposed that Iminov, who was then located in the south of Xinjiang, hold a similar meeting in Kashgar. Following the Ghulja meeting, a meeting of Kazakhs took place in Ürümchi, led by Jaghda Babalikov, who had prepared a draft program for the creation of a Kazakh Autonomous Province in Xinjiang, which would take in Kazakhs living in the Ili Prefecture, Ürümchi, and Inner Mongolia. In both the draft program composed by Äzizov, and in the draft prepared by Jaghda Babalikov, there was talk of the transfer of all power, both in party and government organs, into the hands of national cadres. The adoption of these programs, Zakirov stated, would have led to a situation in which the Chinese would have been unable to come to Xinjiang.

The CCP CC, Zakirov said, having become acquainted with materials on national construction reaching them from locations in the national districts of China, adopted a different form of national construction, one more suited to China – the form of territorial autonomous regions. Many leading national cadres of Xinjiang did not agree with this decision of the CCP CC. They continued to adhere to and defend their previous views, the essence of which consisted of the creation of an Uyghur republic on the territory of Xinjiang. In the course of our discussion I remarked that these views were false and incorrect, for they contradicted the CCP’s principles in the sphere of the national question. These views were directed not at strengthening the unity of the peoples of various nationalities living in Xinjiang, but to their dissociation. Agreeing with my remarks, Zakirov stated that the local nationalists did not agree with the center’s decision on the creation of territorially autonomous regions in the national regions of China, and started to secretly engage in nationalist activism, so as to attract by such means the local intelligentsia, students, and national cadres to their side.

With the publication and broad discussion of Mao Zedong’s work “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People,” the local nationalists again started to openly express their nationalistic views. It is worth pointing out, Zakirov said, that although the local nationalists had varied their tactics up to this time, in essence their demands remained the same.

During the discussion of this work by Mao Zedong at the May 1957 XUAR Party Committee plenum, the local nationalists no longer talked about the creation of an Uyghur republic in Xinjiang, but pointed to the fact that a lot of Chinese were coming to Xinjiang, and that party organs, trade, and finance were in their hands; that local institutions of learning were full of Chinese who had come from the central regions of China; and that the army of labor, consisting of Chinese, had occupied the best lands in Xinjiang. Judging from Ghulja, I noted, one could not say that there were no national cadres at all in party organs. Nor could one say that no one from the other nationalities was working in trade networks. In the opinion of the local nationalists, Zakirov said, the designation of “autonomous region” is simply a facade, and in reality the national cadres didn’t have any power or rights. The Chinese managed all affairs. While I was in the Higher Party School in Beijing, Zakirov said, I had occasion to hear similar pronouncements on the part of students in the Xinjiang section of the Higher Party School of the CCP CC.

Zakirov said that given that the views of national cadres on questions of national construction in Xinjiang, and (he added) unsurprisingly in other national regions of the PRC, diverged from the principles and line of the CCP on this question, in 1957 the CCP CC found it necessary to call a meeting of representatives of the national regions in Qingdao. At this meeting, Zhou Enlai clearly laid out the position of the CCP CC on the national question. In particular, Zhou Enlai pointed out that if they were to go down the path of creating national republics, then in Xinjiang they would have to create 13 republics. The Xinjiang representatives did not agree with Zhou Enlai’s proposition, however, and continued to defend their stance. In doing so, as Zakirov stated, they drew on the example of the Soviet Union. In Kazakhstan, they said, there live various nationalities, but the government of the Soviet Union considered it necessary to create a Kazakh republic only. In connection with this I noted that in resolving the national question in China, more than anything it was essential to proceed from the concrete conditions of China, whose historical conditions of development differed from conditions in the Soviet Union.

Since the Xinjiang representatives remained dissatisfied with the Qingdao meeting, and continued to adhere to their erroneous views, the CCP CC was obliged to take the decision to discuss the question of local nationalism at a plenum of the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region Party Committee. Zakirov said that the expanded plenum of the XUAR party committee, which lasted more than four months, could be divided into two phases. The peculiarity of the first phase was that it was characterized by the passivity of many of the plenum’s participants. The second phase of the plenum’s work, during which the composition of plenum participants was increased, was notable for the broad articulation of criticism of the local nationalists.

At this plenum, the local nationalists didn’t talk about creating an Uyghur republic on the territory of Xinjiang, as had been articulated by them at the meeting that took place in Ghulja in 1951. Here they simply repeated that there was a large number of Chinese arriving in Xinjiang, who occupied all the leading positions in party organs, trade, and finance, and that the Chinese were infringing on the rights of local national cadres and didn’t trust them. In so far as all power resided in the hands of the Chinese, they declared, the designation of autonomous region therefore had a superficial and formal quality.

As the criticism that emerged at the plenum showed, Zakirov said, certain local nationalists have long been fostering the idea of creating an independent republic in Xinjiang; others only wished to create a republic, but within the PRC. Despite the apparent difference of their points of view, they were united by their general desire for separatism, and their unwillingness to work with the Chinese, whom the local nationalists treat coldly.

Zakirov informed me that during the first phase of the plenum’s work, criticism was directed primarily toward Ziya Sämädov, Abdurehim Äysaev, Säypullaev, Askhat Ishaqov, Ibrahim Turdi and others. Deputy chairman of the XUAR People’s Committee Iminov, however, escaped criticism. It was possible to infer, Zakirov said, that Iminov was not among the ranks of local nationalists. Yet in actual fact this was far from the truth. The reason for this [exception] consisted of the fact that Säypidin Äzizov was protecting him, and didn’t want Iminov’s name to be mentioned at the plenum. When the participants started to criticism Ibrahim Turdi, Äzizov summoned him and warned him not to say anything about Iminov. Zakirov said that it was hard to say why Äzizov did this. In all likelihood, it was to be explained by the fact that, for one, Ibrahim Turdi knew about Iminov’s nationalist views, and two, that Äzizov obviously didn’t trust Ibrahim Turdi. When criticism of Ibrahim Turdi started to intensify, he decided to meet with Wang Enmao, first secretary of the XUAR Party Committee, and while talking with him he told him about the conversation with Äzizov. Zakirov said that it had been his task to translate Wang Enmao’s discussion with Ibrahim Turdi. In order to convince himself of the accuracy of Ibrahim Turdi’s information, Wang Enmao summoned Äzizov and Ibrahim Turdi, and asked the latter to tell him about the substance of his exchange with Äzizov. During this discussion, Äzizov confessed that he had indeed had a conversation with Ibrahim Turdi and asked him to not talk about Iminov. After Wang Enmao’s conversation with Äzizov and Ibrahim Turdi, it was entirely obvious that Äzizov had a direct relationship to the activity of the local nationalists. Indeed, Zakirov went on, Äzizov was a central figure among the local nationalists. Wang Enmao informed the CCP CC of his discussion with Äzizov and Ibrahim Turdi. Having acquainted itself with Wang Enmao’s information, the CCP CC gave instructions to the XUAR Party Committee not only not to criticize Äzizov for his contact with the nationalists, but also not to mention his name in the plenum. Participants in the plenum were informed of neither the content of Wang Enmao’s discussion with Ibrahim Turdi and Äzizov, nor with the instructions of the CCP CC, though Zakirov said that some participants, who were aware of Äzizov’s nationalist views, expressed bewilderment in conversation among themselves as to why nothing was being said about Äzizov at the plenum. Zakirov said that it was only after the conversations mentioned above that they started to criticize Iminov. As to the question of why the CCP CC gave instructions not to criticize Äzizov for his nationalist views, Zakirov replied that Säypidin Äzizov still enjoys authority among the local population and national cadres. Furthermore, in giving these instructions the CCP CC (as Zakirov expressed himself) seemingly had in mind that Äzizov was known not only in China, but also abroad. Given that in Xinjiang there was still no local Ulanhu, the CCP CC therefore found it expedient to not criticize Äzizov, and instead to uphold his authority. The CC, it would seem, also felt that Äzizov had given a decent report at the XUAR Party Committee plenum on the struggle with local nationalism.

Now, Zakirov said, the activity of leading workers of the party committee has become more obvious to the XUAR Party Committee: that of Iminov, Askhat Ishaqov, Säypullaev, and others. Many questions which were raised for discussion at the Party Committee were discussed in advance at meetings of this group, with Äzizov’s involvement. As a rule, their practical activity diverged with the line of the Party Committee. Alongside this it was necessary to keep in mind that during discussion of these questions, they always enjoyed the support of Äzizov.

Zakirov said that in conversation with him, Wang Enmao had stated that Iminov, Säypullaev, and Askhat Ishaqov were deserving of the most serious forms of party discipline, but the party committee, in deliberating the concrete steps which were submitted to the CCP CC regarding to these individuals, set out from the fact that one couldn’t apply the harshest measures of party discipline to them as long as the chief nationalist Äzizov went completely unpunished. Wang Enmao also said that the revolution was still continuing and the Party Committee would have plenty of opportunity to keep an eye on Äzizov’s work, and his loyalty to the party’s goals. The Party Committee would handle Äzizov’s work more attentively, and more critically.

Now, Zakirov said, one still could not say that Äzizov had genuinely rejected his nationalist views and the backing of the local nationalists. Zakirov supports this claim with the following examples: 1) The Party Committee instructed Äzizov to make a speech at the second session of the 8th Congress of the CCP. In his address Äzizov, only discussed questions of economic construction in Xinjiang, and didn’t say anything about such an important event for Xinjiang as the expanded plenum of the Party Committee, where the question of the struggle with local nationalism was being discussed. Given that Äzizov didn’t want to tell the delegates about the nationalist views of many leading workers from among the local national cadres, Wang Enmao was obliged to speak at the session and inform them in detail about the Xinjiang plenum of the Party Committee.

2) At the conclusion of this session, the XUAR Party Committee assigned Wang Enmao the task of reporting on the results of this session at an expanded plenum of the Party Committee in Kashgar, and Äzizov was instructed to deliver the same report at the expanded plenum of the Party Committee of the Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, which under way at that time. The texts of Wang Enmao and Äzizov’s reports were not discussed at the Party Committee, and only the basic questions to be clarified in the reports were outlined. Wang Enmao, Zakirov said, gave a thorough analysis of the results of the session’s work, and the plenum of the XUAR Party Committee also entrusted the participants of the [Kashgar] plenum with the task of struggling against local nationalists. Äzizov, though, in speaking about nationalist tendencies in Xinjiang, limited himself simply to quotations from Mao Zedong’s speeches at the session on this question. Mao Zedong, Zakirov added, spoke five times at the session. Äzizov didn’t mention a single surname from among the local nationalists, apart from those who had been listed in Mao Zedong’s speech.

It was fortunate, Zakirov said, that it had been possible to unmask the activity of the local nationalists in time, for they had put down deep roots of nationalist views among the local intelligentsia, students, and a section of the national cadres. If the activity of the local nationalists hadn’t been revealed in a prompt fashion, then this may have led to undesirable outcomes. Meetings are now taking place in various institutions and places of study of Ürümchi, at which groups closely linked to Iminov, Säypullaev, Ziya Sämädi, and Askhat Ishaqov, are being brought to light. It is hard to imagine, said Zakirov, that students of 16-17 years of age could themselves produce various kinds of anti-Chinese and nationalist leaflets without any sort of direction.

In speaking about the expanded plenum of the Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture which is currently ongoing, Zakirov informed me that the plenum opened on the 5th of June. Party Committee First Secretary Zhang Shigong presented a report on the results of the expanded plenum of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Party Committee. Participants of the plenum were divided into four groups, at meetings of which supplementary and more detailed study of Zhang Shigong’s report took place. After studying the report, criticism of the local nationalists commenced. Zakirov stated that in advance of convening the plenums, in Ghulja as in Ürümchi extensive work was carried out to prepare the materials that would serve as the basis for criticism. The key documents for this criticism were their speeches at various kinds of meetings, forums and plenums of the party committee, particularly their speeches at the plenum of the XUAR Party Committee which took place in May 1957, and also at the plenum of the Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Party Committee, which took place in July 1957, at which was discussed the afore-mentioned work of Mao Zedong, as well as their conversations with workers of various organizations, beginning from 1951 until the present time. Chiefly criticized at the plenum were Jaghda Babalikov (former chairman of the prefecture’s People’s Committee), Shaymardan (former chairman of the People’s Court), Nukushev (head of the prefectural public security administration), Akhmatgali Bötenbaev (deputy manager of the Prefecture Committee’s Department of Agitation and Propaganda), Qaldibay (the procurator), Alimjan (deputy head of the People’s Committee’s chancellery). Given that criticism of these individuals is continuing at present, Zakirov said, it was hard to draw any conclusions.

At this plenum, as at the plenum in Ürümchi, they are criticizing the nationalists, and particularly Jaghda (according to Zakirov), for the fact that in 1951 they spoke out for the creation of an Uyghur republic on the territory of Xinjiang, and a Kazakh Autonomous Province in the territory of the Ili Prefecture, which should embrace, in their view, the Kazakhs of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. Participants in the plenum, and particularly Wakhap, point out that in 1951 Jaghda Babalikov advocated the incorporation of three prefectures of Xinjiang (Ili, Tarbaghatay, and Altay) into the Soviet Union. A series of participants in the plenum specify that the local nationalists have expressed discontent regarding the arrival in Xinjiang, and in particular in the Ili Prefecture, of a large number of Chinese, who in their opinion have occupied all the leading positions in the prefecture’s party organs, since these positions should be occupied by Kazakhs, that trade and finance is in the hands of the Chinese, and that the Chinese don’t trust the local national cadres. They have also expressed opposition to socialist transformations. Jaghda Babalikov, as Wakhap, Mämädov and others have highlighted, was an opponent of national-territorial autonomy. In Babalikov’s opinion, this autonomy was pure formalism. He argued for the Ili-Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture to be directly subordinate to the center, and insisted on moving Kazakhs from the city of Ürümchi, and also from Hami, into the Altay District where, in his view, there was enough land for a million migrants. In so far as Ghulja was the center of the Kazakh district, so Babalikov would say, then only Kazakhs should live in that city. He would constantly talk about increasing the number of cadre workers in the district from among the Kazakhs, and proposed transferring cadre workers from different nationalities to other parts of Xinjiang. Babalikov insisted that cadre workers from among the Kazakhs should make up at least 55% of the total number of cadre workers in district organizations, when they now comprise a total of 9%. He stood up for the purity of the Kazakh language and demanded that it be cleansed of Chinese words, for example shuji, chuzhang etc., and insisted that cadre workers from among the other nationalities study the Kazakh language. Many who spoke in the debate, Zakirov stated, are criticizing Babalikov for the fact that he spoke out against the party leadership and violated the policy of the party in questions concerning cadres. He has created a bloc, including Nukushev, Shaymardan, Akhmatgali, and Qaldibay. This group of individuals, and Babalikov in particular, have taken up an incorrect position on the question of rightist elements. Babalikov, for example, said that in assigning individuals to the category of “rightist element,” one must not forget the tragic results of the campaign against the “three” and “five” evils [sanfan wufan 三反五反]. The local nationalists were rhetorically in favor of socialist transformations, but in reality they did all they could to discredit these transformations. They sought out negative examples in the work of agricultural cooperatives, and drew from these incorrect conclusions about socialist transformations. In their opinion, the life of the peasantry was better before the introduction of socialist transformations. The local nationalists, Zakirov stated, are agitating against the Chinese people. Babalikov said that in party organs in the district there are few national cadres, and that all power and right resides in the hands of the Chinese. We don't need the Chinese, he said, we can handle our affairs ourselves. While among the Chinese there was one cadre worker for every 6 Chinese, for every 100 Kazakhs there was only a single cadre worker from the Kazakhs. In conversation with one of the local workers (Saidov), Babalikov said that Ürümchi is filling up with Chinese, and Ghulja with Uyghurs. Why worry about the Chinese, if we can't even free ourselves from the Uyghurs? In connection with this I remarked that it was difficult for me to say anything about of the quantitative ratio among the cadre workers, but that it was well known that without the assistance of the Chinese people, Xinjiang, and the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in particular, would not have made the great strides in the field of economy and culture that have been achieved here in recent years. Agreeing with my comment, Zakirov informed me that at the July plenum of the prefecture Party Committee, at which Mao Zedong’s work was discussed, Babalikov said that the Chinese were acting unjustly toward the Kazakhs. They have taken lands and homes away from the Kazakhs. If this were to continue, then the Kazakhs might again take to the mountains. Upon meeting a female Chinese high-school teacher in Ghulja County, Babalikov said with disdain, “What will the students learn from her, apart from how to wear men’s trousers?”

Babalikov, like other local nationalists, expressed dissatisfaction regarding the presence in the prefecture’s territory of the army of labor. Last year at the May Plenum of the XUAR Party Committee, he declared that a contradiction was arising between the Production Corps and the local population owing to the fact that the best lands, waters and pasturage were in the hands of the laboring army. Babalikov, as Wakhap pointed out, spoke negatively of the Soviet Union. On the question of how this was expressed, Zakirov said that upon returning last year from the USSR, Babalikov said in conversation with Wakhap that social order in the USSR was worse than in Finland, which is a capitalist country. In the Soviet Union thievery and drunkenness is widespread. As proof of this he provided the following example. In the city of Alma-Ata the chief of police told him that a certain citizen had threatened someone who had come back from Chuguchak [Tacheng 塔城], so that he would give up some gold that he had brought. In association with this I inquired as to the name of this police chief. Zakirov said that he didn't recollect the chief’s name. I went on to say that such a groundless aspersion on social order in the USSR was nothing other than a slander against the Soviet Union and its people. Zakirov concurred with my statement.

In this way, Zakirov continued, this group of local nationalists stands not on party positions, but instead rail against the Chinese people, and against the party and socialism. I inquired whether or not the local nationalists, and Jaghda Babalikov in particular, admit to what is being said about them at the plenum. Zakirov stated that neither in the group sessions nor in the plenary sessions of the plenum, have they confessed. Given that they were denying the facts being introduced at the plenum to characterize their nationalist activity, the Party Committee found it necessary to hold individual discussions with them. Yet even in these discussions, they did not agree with what was being said about them at the plenum. Babalikov, for example, denies that he spoke about the creation of republics or an autonomous Kazakh province on the territory of Xinjiang. He does not admit that he spoke about the unification of the three prefectures with Soviet Kazakhstan. Babalikov says that he is not against the Chinese people, the party and socialism. He only admits that in talks with certain workers and at sessions of the Party Committee, he said that work was being carried out poorly in a number of agricultural cooperatives, as a result of which the material well-being of cooperative members was not improving but deteriorating, that in the cooperatives cultural-educational work was carried out poorly, and that in the prefecture there were few national cadres, particularly from among the Kazakhs, that the Chinese didn’t devote the necessary attention to the question of training national cadres, and finally he acknowledges the fact that he advocated the resettlement in the Altay of Kazakhs living in other parts of Xinjiang.

Zakirov said that the Party Committee has much work to do. It is occupied with preparing all requisite materials for both the group and general sessions of the plenum. In Zakirov’s opinion, the work of the plenum of the Party Committee of the Ili-Kazakh Prefecture will not conclude any earlier than the first half of August.

In speaking about Säypidin Äzizov’s personal qualities, Zakirov said that he is very egoistic. If someone simply displeased him, or expressed an opinion to him that diverged from his wishes, then Äzizov would take revenge on this individual, and at any convenient moment might cause them great discomfort.

At the conclusion of the conversation Zakirov asked that I not speak to anyone about the content of our discussion, particularly as it related to Säypidin Äzizov, for, as Zakirov said, only Wang Enmao and the CCP Central Committee knew about this. Thanking Zakirov for the conversation, I agreed to his request.

Consul of the USSR in Ghulja

E. Shalunov

[…]

18.VIII.58

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