761.93/3–2247: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State

947. We offer following comment on rumors reported in Tihwa’s 78, March 10, repeated to Department in Nanking’s 578.

While it is entirely normal that Soviet citizenship should be pressed [Page 550] on White Russians, it seems inprobable to us that natives on Ining and Suiting areas should received similar treatment. These natives can be of more use to USSR as part of indigenous Soviet movement manipulated by USSR.

We assume that by Red troops in uniform, Paxton means Soviet forces. Unless situation has radically changed since first of year, we would be surprised if Soviet troops in uniform were in evidence in Ining–Wusu area. Our reason for saying so is that in Asia as matter of principle USSR seems to be avoiding appearance of armed intervention. Furthermore, there is no apparent need for obvious Soviet garrisons in Sinkiang as native rebel forces appear to be adequately serving Soviet ends.

Rumor of Muslim resentment against Russians seems plausible. Such resentment is typical for areas taken over by Soviet puppet organizations and secret police. How effective resentment is depends on many factors not least of which is ruthless determination of Soviet secret police.

In connection with whole Sinkiang problem, our impression from reading a series of excellent reports prepared late last year and early this year by British Consuls at Tihwa and Kashgar is that extension of Soviet influence into Sinkiang is following closely Iranian-Azerbaijan pattern of last year. Our impression is that present is period of strong-arm consolidation by native stooges along border areas combined with political manipulation designed to bring about disintegration of central authority at Tihwa to the end that “democratic” forces are able to capture government at Tihwa. Simultaneously USSR is using economic tactics (much as Moscow urged oil agreement on Tehran) to insure parallel Soviet economic penetration. Combination of these pressures on gimcrack Central Government Authority in Sinkiang means that, unless there is drastic injection of new elements into situation, Sinkiang will be absorbed into Soviet orbit. Mere reforms introduced by Tihwa Government will not suffice to save Sinkiang. If central authority is to be effectively reasserted throughout province, other forces will be brought into play.

Azerbaijan was regained by a complex of factors: Wide publicity and world concern, UN commitment, active official American interest and Qavam’s15 willingness boldly to force showdown. We are not in position to know whether similar combination of forces can be mustered with regard to Sinkiang. Nanking and Department may be able to answer this question. Our feeling is that question is worth exploring—provided [Page 551] Department feels Sinkiang is politically and strategically worth attempt at rescue.

Repeated to London as 96. Department repeat to Nanking.

  1. Ahmad Qavam, Iranian Prime Minister.