761.93/11–3046: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Stuart) to the Secretary of State

2009. Ward arrived November 25 en route Washington. He summarizes Sinkiang situation as follows:

1. Sino-Soviet Economic Negotiations. In September Chang Chih-chung submitted tentative proposals covering Sino-Soviet economic cooperation in Sinkiang to Central Government. After considerable delay, Central Government in October appointed three-man committee to undertake negotiations generally along lines proposed, Chang himself to head delegation with Liu Tse-jung as representative Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Kao Shu-kang as representative Ministry of Economics. Kao arrived Tihwa from Nanking with revised instructions November 1; on November 4, under Central Government instructions which Kao brought, following proposals were handed to Soviet Consul General:

Trade to be reopened over Sinkiang border; actual trading to be controlled on Chinese side by (a) Government organized trading body, or (b) by govt recognized monopoly formed by merchants engaged in the trade;
Sinkiang’s oil, tin and tungsten to be exploited by Sino-Soviet company, shares of which company are to be held equally by China and Russia, China retaining administrative primacy, while Soviets would hold precedence in control of technical operations of company;
Soviet Russia to assist China in reconstruction of Sinkiang through supply of industrial equipment, etc., actual terms, amounts of equipment, to be settled subsequent to conclusion of present agreement.

According to Liu Tse-jung, although no reply had as yet been received by the Consul General from Moscow anent these proposals, no unsurmountable difficulties to negotiation of agreement along these lines are expected. In explanation of apparent generosity of terms offered, Liu referred to blanket contract between Sheng Shih-tsai26 and Soviets promising latter all subsoil rights in Sinkiang; Chinese have no copy of this contract but believe Soviets may have and might require performance on it, a move which Chinese would resist.

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2. Relations [with?] rebels. The liquidation of the rebel regime in three western districts of Ining, Tacheng, and Chenghwa was proceeding very unevenly and in some respects unsatisfactorily. Ahkmed Jan, most energetic and influential of Turki rebel leaders, had accepted his role as Vice Chairman and had moved to Tihwa where he was cooperating fully with Government (he is now in Nanking with Turki Delegation to National Assembly); Provincial Government was assisting rebel areas in financial rehabilitation, having agreed to retire for Sinkiang currency the very large rebel note issue which Ining had printed to finance its revolt. The economic situation of rebel areas presented great difficulties since, contrary to widely accepted theory that Soviet-Ining border had been opened by Russians during revolt, it is now known beyond dispute that Soviets kept border tightly sealed throughout revolt, permitting no exchange of commodities; goods famine in Ining which occurred during revolt more grave than that in Tihwa; whereas Tihwa had hoped to receive cheap supplies of shoes, etc., from Ining, it is now required to make shipments to Ining, where prices of many commodities are even higher than in Tihwa. These facts do not preclude probability that some arms were brought across border during revolt presumably with tacit consent Soviet border authorities but possibly without their knowledge, since many Kazaks in Kazak state still possess illegal arms.

Political institutions of rebel area have been assimilated to those of rest of province; Turki head of Ining district, for instance, having been duly appointed chief district official by Provincial Government; election of Turki district magistrates in ex-rebel areas was proceeding apace by middle of November.

Military clauses of Ining agreement have proved major stumbling block. Although number of regiments permitted to ex-rebel areas was closely prescribed and ex-rebel troops were expected to wear uniforms of Chinese army, no Chinese military inspection of those troops has yet been possible and it is not known whether required reduction in their numbers has in fact occurred. Ex-rebels also continue to use their “national” flag; on visit of General Chang later in August to Ining, there were more rebel flags in evidence than Chinese; some Chinese also felt that Chang was not received with full honors and courtesies due chairman of Sinkiang. These and other circumstances led British Consul, who was in Ining shortly thereafter, to believe that Ining regime is no more than puppet of Soviets. In this connection it should be noted, however, that his relations with remnant anti-Soviet White Russian community in Sinkiang have been very close and his view may therefore not be entirely objective.

On other hand, there remains ample evidence throughout province of strong anti-Chinese feeling which would presumably [have] facilitated [Page 1217] dissemination of pro-Soviet propaganda. In late summer, for instance, some 1500 Chinese who had fled from Tacheng into Soviet Russia during revolt were returned by Soviets to Tacheng for transfer by Chinese Government to Tihwa and interior. In Tacheng, last group of these repatriates to leave that city were attacked by populace, some of them being killed. Turkis claim that only 17 of these Chinese ex-officials lost their lives and that massacre was in retaliation for brutality and corruption with which they had earlier governed Tacheng. Chinese in Provincial Government claim, however, that 37 Chinese lost their lives; among non-official Chinese in Tihwa, number is alleged to have been 70, and it is asserted positively in latter circles that Chinese wives of murdered men, while being escorted under Turki guard to Manass River (which remains frontier between ex-rebel areas and those under full Chinese control) were repeatedly raped.

“Electoral” committee subsequently appointed by Provincial Govt to investigate this massacre and comprising Turki chairman and Chinese assistants, was met at Omin, southwest of Tacmen [Tacheng?], by band of armed Turkis and murdered so that facts of massacre are still undetermined, although it certainly occurred.

Ex-rebel leaders now cooperating with Chinese deprecate these acts as those of group of young extremists who have not forgotten ease with which Turkis overwhelmed Chinese forces sent against them and are correspondingly unwilling to accept the re-establishment of Chinese sovereignty in the areas which they freed from their enemy by fighting. For same reason, Turki leaders explain, it is proving very difficult to persuade younger Turki army officers to abandon either their uniforms or the Turki flag, a green banner bearing red crescent and star and Turki quotation from Koran.

Evidence of sincerity of these Turki leaders is fact that they are fully represented on 18-man Sinkiang delegation despatched to National Assembly which is now in Nanking, where they are working for realization of full Turki autonomy under Chinese sovereignty.

In this objective the delegation is representative of a large body of Turki opinion. However, there are many influential Turkis whose understanding of geographic and other limitations of eastern Turkestan is so limited that they believe they are working for an entirely independent Turki state in Sinkiang; there are also not lacking, particularly among ex-fighters in Ining, young men who are convinced Communists and ardently seek amalgamation of East Turkestan with the Soviet Union. Typical, if somewhat covert, expression of this point of view was made by Turki officer assigned by vice chairman as my escort on projected trip to Ining (which I was unable to make [Page 1218] because of Paxton’s27 arrival and necessity that plane return to Nanking next morning); this young Turki, sympathizing with me for having been ill, said: “It is the stale sickly air of Tihwa, which blows from inner China, which made you sick; in Ining we are made well by the fresh, new, clean air that blows across the border from the west.”

3. Soviet relations with Sinkiang. Although it is very doubtful whether Soviets took any overt steps to precipitate 1944 revolt which resulted in present situation, they almost certainly realized that their complete withdrawal in 1942 followed by hermetic sealing of long Soviet-Sinkiang border would inevitably result in circumstances then prevailing in serious goods shortages and other economic dislocation; they also doubtless calculated on widespread resurgence of corruption which would characterize re-institution of typical Chinese regime; they realized that these factors could not but result in widespread unrest among Turki population, and some Soviets doubtless even counted on the inevitable revolution. They had only to sit back and wait. Their prestige among Turkis has been greatly enhanced by what has appeared, at least, to be scrupulous integrity with which they discharged their good offices to bring together revolting Turkis and Chinese to attempt settlement of revolt which they so clearly foresaw; they have even profited, in Turki eyes, by their refusal to open the border between Russia and rebel areas during revolt, thus allaying fears felt among some Turkis of Communist penetration.

Having acted throughout with such consummate finesse (and, from Soviet point of view, in such scrupulously good faith), the Russians are now in very favorable position vis-à-vis Sinkiang. Continuing confusion among governing Chinese other than Chang and Liu themselves, deepening economic difficulties, failure of Chinese to eradicate corruption, lack of adequate schools and hospitals, etc., etc., contrasted to Soviet regime in Western Turkestan, taken together with Soviet prestige gained through their recent actions in Sinkiang, place Soviet Govt in position where it could, if it so wished, take over actual control of ex-rebel areas through pro-Soviet younger group in Ining, whereafter that group could be manipulated to effect the extension of actual (as against avowed) Soviet control over all Sinkiang.

Whether or not Soviet Russia determines upon such a course may depend upon three factors: (1) Course of present negotiations for resumption of Sinkiang-Soviet trade; (2) direction followed by events in China; (3) world developments. If (1) trade negotiations fail; (2) Chiang Kai-shek is victorious over Chinese Communists and develops an anti-Soviet policy in China proper and (3) if world [Page 1219] situation continues to develop in direction of world-wide division between pro-Soviet periphery plus Soviet proper and opposing coalition, then Soviet Union may well decide to exploit its present favorable position in Sinkiang to the limit, which might amount at maximum to the absorption of Sinkiang. If, however, trade negotiations were successful, coalition govt in inner China proved possible, and world-wide drift toward two worlds was checked, then it is unlikely that Soviet Union would take more than a benevolent interest in the development of an autonomous Turki regime friendly to Soviet Russia but under recognized Chinese sovereignty.

4. Central Govt and Sinkiang. In this extremely delicate situation, where Chinese sovereignty hangs by a thread, Chang Chih-chung should be given fullest, most complete support by Central Govt in Nanking. He calculates provincial budget for calendar year 1947 at 50 billion Sinkiang dollars; of this he needs 30 billion for ordinary expenses of Govt and 20 billion for reconstruction. He may be able to raise 22 billion in taxes; full amount of remaining 28 billion (i. e., 8 billion to complete sum necessary for administration of Govt and the 20 billion for reconstruction) must be allotted him by Central Govt. The urgency of this need cannot be overemphasized. Turkis have already lost faith in the whole Chinese Central Government save only in Chang Chih-chung, if they lose faith in him, or are forced to recognize that he is powerless to help them, the last hope of retaining Chinese sovereignty in Sinkiang will be lost; one more count will be chalked up against the Soviet Union, though in fact it will only have been the beneficiary of a situation which need not arise if the Central Government can be brought to act now to aid the establishment of a socially conscious government that will seek the welfare of the Turki peoples.

  1. Former Governor of Sinkiang.
  2. John Hall Paxton, who succeeded Mr. Ward as Consul at Tihwa.