International Relations Committee, Sino-Russian crisis; the actual facts brought to light. January 1, 1929
EVENTS LEADING TO CRISIS
The dispute over the Chinese Eastern Railroad between China and Russia is causing busy men and women all over the world to sit up and take notice, for observers realize that the controversy involves factors which have far-reaching consequences. In order to fully understand the circumstances of the case it would be necessary to review the events leading to the crisis.
Although China was one of the first countries to recognize the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, propaganda of a pernicious nature have been carried on by Russian Communists in China with the object of overthrowing the existing political and economic order. As the Chinese authorities discovered that this sort of propaganda was being carried on in the zone traversed by the Chinese Eastern Railroad in spite of Russia’s signature to the Sino-Russian Agreement Of 1924 pledging herself “not to engage in propaganda directed against the political and social systems” of China, it was found necessary as a means of preserving the present regime from being forcibly overthrown by violence to raid the Soviet Consulate in Harbin on May 27 this year.
The raid interrupted a meeting of the Third International in the premises of the USSR Consulate in Harbin, and a total of eighty persons were arrested. The persons arrested were the outstanding members of the North Manchurian Executive Committee of the Communist Party, and among them were Mr. Emshanov, Soviet General Manager of the Chinese Eastern Railroad, Mr. Skatevik, Commercial Commissioner of the Chinese Eastern Railroad, Mr. Kuznetsov, former Soviet Consul General in Mukden; Mr. Tsempalevsk, General Manager of the Soviet Far Eastern State Trade Board; Mr. Dalaev, Inspector of the Soviet Mercantile Fleet; and Mr. Stakev, a member of the Trade Department of the Chinese Eastern Railroad.
Attempts were made to burn documents when the police finally succeeded in gaining entry to the premises of the consulate, but among the documents that were not destroyed were found concrete evidence that a well-planned plot was under way to overthrow the Chinese National Government by violent means and conduct a nation-wide campaign of Communist propaganda. Evidences were also found that the recent Northwest Rebellion against the Central Government was instigated with the connivance of the Soviet, for according to a translation of a telegram sent from Harbin, via Vladivostok on January 16,1929, to the Third International at Moscow, it was disclosed that:
Feng Yu-hsiang is contemplating to approach Moscow for assistance in his effort at frustrating the unification of China … Soviet Russia should render every assistance to Feng Yu-hsiang should Russia desire to maintain her position in the Far East in general and in China in particular.”
Another document rescued by the Chinese police before it was consumed by fire, which was discovered to have been transmitted from the Third International through the Telegraph Department of the Chinese Eastern Railroad on January 18, 1929, contained the following:
In case the policy of terrorism shall be put into execution, to which Chinese Communist organizations shall it be entrusted and in case there are such organizations how many are there in the Three Eastern Provinces and what materials are required to carry out the policy and how big a fund will be needed ? Are the explosives in stock sufficient to suit the purpose and what shall be the schemes in case poison gas may be used ? ”
The Chinese Eastern Railroad was used by the Soviet as a base for their operations, for all high officials of this railroad owe their positions to their long standing with the Communist Party, and being confirmed Communists, they naturally look for every opportunity to disseminate Communistic propaganda. Under these circumstances the Chinese authorities were compelled to arrest those Russians employed in the Chinese Eastern Railroad who were guilty of engaging in the work of undermining the prestige of the existing government by conducting propaganda of a subversive nature, and planning to destroy Chinese property and assassinate high Chinese officials. The taking over of the railroad is not a ” seizure ” but is only a temporary measure to preserve law and order and to prevent disturbances calculated to overthrow the Party and the National Government. According to a statement of Mr. Lu Yung-kuan, President of the Chinese Eastern Railroad, “the steps taken by the Chinese authorities were necessitated by the desire of the Mukden authorities to uphold the Mukden-Moscow Agreement of 1924 which has been repeatedly violated by the Soviet,” for in the Moscow-Mukden Agreement as well as the Moscow-Peking Agreement the Soviet Government gave a pledge not to conduct any Communist propaganda in China.
But to the surprise of the whole world the Soviet began to concentrate a large number of troops along the Manchurian border in spite of declarations of her peaceful attitude, and reports were current that 1000 Chinese living in Russia were arrested. In his Note to the Chinese Government, Mr. Karakhan, at one time Soviet Minister to China and who is now Foreign Commissioner of the USSR, made a dramatic gesture when he declared that Soviet Russia is “compelled to remind the Chinese authorities that it possesses sufficient means necessary to protect the lawful rights of the peoples of the USSR” A time limit of three days was given the Chinese Government to reply, and in the event of not receiving a satisfactory answer, Soviet Russia was prepared to resort to other means.
The strong attitude of the Soviet Government not only caused a stir in Chinese official circles but aroused the indignation of the entire nation. Despite the bellicose attitude of Russia, China was ready to stand by the Anti-War Kellogg Treaty and to settle the controversy by means of negotiation.
In reply to the Soviet Note, the National Government pointed out that for the past several years the Soviet Manager and other important Russian officials of the Chinese Eastern Railroad “have on numerous occasions acted illegally and exceeded their lawful authority, making it impossible for the Chinese officials of the Railroad to carry out their duties according to the Agreement.” The Note went on to say:
-Furthermore, the Soviet members often utilized the said railroad for propaganda, thereby intentionally violating the stipulations of the Sino-Russian Agreement
The arrest of certain Russians and the raid on certain Russian institutions by the authorities of the Three Eastern Provinces are entirely necessary for the purpose of preventing anti-revolutionary propaganda and for maintaining peace and order.”
The National Government was prepared to release all arrested Soviet agents provided that the Soviet will:
1. Release all the Chinese merchants arrested and detained by the Soviet Government, except those who, being involved in law suits, are guaranteed by the Embassy or Consulates to remain in Russia;
2. Give such adequate protection and facilities as the Chinese merchants in Russia are entitled to.
Despite the fact that this Note plainly stated that the National Government is instructing Minister Chu Shao-yang to negotiate with the Soviet Foreign Office in order to secure an amicable settlement, the Soviet Government completely ignored China’s offer to settle the matter by diplomatic negotiations and announced her warlike measures in her Second Note to China:
1. The withdrawal of Soviet Diplomatic, Consular and Commercial representatives from China;
2. The recall of all Soviet officials of the Chinese Eastern Railroad;
3. The suspension of railroad communication between Russia and China, and
4. The immediate departure from Soviet Russia of all Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Officials.
Russia made good her threat and immediately severed all railroad and telegraphic communications, but she violated one of her own proposals when she detained Chinese consular officials instead of allowing them to return to China immediately. Reports from Moscow say that Russia was mobilizing all reservists born since 1902 for the Manchurian front. So in order to stand ready in case of necessity the Chinese military authorities also concentrated troops along the border but they were under instructions not to fire. The aggressive attitude of Soviet Russia is collaborated by foreign correspondents who telegraphed that immediately after the diplomatic rupture Soviet forces assumed the offensive on the morning of July 19 at 10 o’clock, capturing Pogranichnaia and causing the population to become panic-stricken.
Source: Sino-Russian Crisis; the actual facts brought to light (Nanking, China: The International Relations Committee, 1929), pp. 1-4.