Soviet Interpretation of the Chinese Raid

The Provocative Actions Continue. June 8, 1929

 

Original Source: “Provokatsionnye deistviia prodolzhaiutsia,” Izvestiia, 8 June 1929, p. 1.

Ten days have already passed since the local Chinese police made their monstrous and violent attack upon the Soviet Consulate in Harbin. The action of the Harbin authorities, which represents a flagrant violation of the elementary principles of international law and international custom, has called forth a well-merited protest by the Soviet government. In a note of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs on May 31, the government of the USSR, noting the violent and illegal character of everything which had taken place, lodged a vigorous protest, and demanded the immediate release of the Soviet citizens who were arrested in the consulate and the return of all confiscated correspondence, money, and other property.

Although this note was handed to the Chinese charg» d’affaires in Moscow over a week ago, no answer has as yet been received. Moreover, the attitude of the local Chinese authorities shows that they have ignored the vigorous demand of the Soviet government that they refrain from further provocative acts and violations of existing treaties and agreements. The raid upon the consulate in Harbin was only one link in a chain of such actions. As a result the situation created by the violence with regard to the consulate is taking on an ever more serious character.

During the search thirty-nine Soviet citizens, visitors to the consulate, were arrested by the Chinese police; they are still being held in a Chinese prison. It is surprising of course that the number arrested was so small. The raid was made during the consulate’s business hours and the consulate serves an area containing tens of thousands of Soviet citizens. It is clear that the arrests which were made during the raid had the same character

of undisciplined lawlessness as the raid itself. These mass arrests mean the creation of a situation in which the simple visit by a Soviet citizen to his consulate is regarded as a criminal act punishable by arrest. It is clear that such a situation is intolerable.

Moreover, the illegal raid upon the consulate was used by the Chinese authorities to initiate a new anti-Soviet campaign which is absolutely unique in its cynicism, its aggressiveness, and which is based furthermore on crude and obvious forgeries purporting to be documents seized during the search. The appearance of these documents might have been expected earlier, of course-the raid itself has essentially no meaning except as an excuse for the Chinese authorities to publish previously prepared forgeries in order to “prove” that the existing agreements were broken by us, in order to conceal the violation of the agreements on the Chinese side. The publication of these forgeries is therefore proof that the Chinese authorities, despite the warning they have received, are continuing their policy of provocation and lawlessness.

Already on the day following the raid, the Harbin police issued an official declaration which for shameless and ridiculous lying would be hard to equal, in which it was claimed that a “session of the Third International” was discovered in the cellar of the consulate. The police also declared that in the consulate they confiscated compromising documents, literature, arms, and–opium! It goes without saying that all these accusations are a stupid and crude lie, which is not only completely improbable in substance but which is also in contradiction with the simplest and best-known facts, for example the fact that in the famous cellar of the consulate, containing the canteen of the consulate employees, the police found only three or four persons, whereas all the other arrested persons were taken in either the reception room of the passport department or official rooms of various officers of the consulate.

With regard to the “documents” allegedly found in the consulate, to judge by those published in the Harbin newspapers, they merely serve as evidence of the primitive technique of the oriental forgery workshops as compared with the more efficient western European factories for producing anti-Soviet documents. Druzhelovskii and Orlov would have lowered their professional reputations if they had sunk to such clumsy work. It is sufficient to say that the photograph published by the police with “the record of a direct telephone conversation between the consulate and the Comintern” (1) turns out to be nothing but an ordinary piece of paper written by an ordinary typewriter, and moreover-in the old orthography. The contents of such forgeries can of course be of no interest to us. It is characteristic that despite the great demand in certain circles abroad for anti-Soviet inventions of all sorts, the “Harbin finds” have not been carried in the foreign press, while the newspapers and telegraph agencies-naturally with the exception of the British Reuters agency, which is prepared to accept anything so long as it is directed against the Soviet Union-continue to maintain an attitude of the deepest skepticism toward the discoveries of the Harbin police.

The fact remains, however, that the Harbin forgeries are being used by the Chinese authorities to conduct a furious campaign in the local Chinese and White Guard press against the Soviet Union and the Soviet consulate. Characteristic of the hostile and impermissible tone of this campaign is that of one of the Chinese newspapers in Harbin, which demands the arrest of the Soviet Consul-General, Comrade Mel’nikov.

All this is the immediate continuation of the raid upon the Harbin Consulate. During the course of the last few days, however, the Chinese authorities have committed a new equally provocative and illegal act which has no direct connection with the Harbin events. On the day of the raid, the Consul-General of the USSR in Mukden, Comrade Kuznetsov, was on his way to Moscow to spend his leave. On May 30, Comrade Kuznetsov received his diplomatic visa from the Chinese authorities to leave China. Despite this, Comrade Kuznetsov was stopped on the way and requested to return to Harbin. He protested and was then permitted to continue his journey, but at the Manchuria station his train compartment was surrounded by the police and he was once more requested to return to Harbin, allegedly for a “discussion” with the local authorities. After his repeated refusal, Comrade Kuznetsov was arrested and taken back to Harbin under escort. On June 4, only under the pressure of an energetic protest by the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs to the Chinese charg» d’affaires in Moscow, he was released.

The arrest of Comrade Kuznetsov emphasizes still further the senselessness of the attitude adopted recently by the Chinese authorities towards Soviet consular officials. As is known, China is carrying on a struggle for the abolition of consular jurisdiction and the establishment of foreign relations based upon the principle of equality and mutuality. The Chinese government, which is faced

in this question by the united front of the imperialist powers and which is not even completely recognized by these powers, which is still striving to obtain equal treatment from them, finds nothing better to do than to violate flagrantly the basic principles of international law concerning the representatives of the USSR-the only country which voluntarily abandoned the right of extraterritoriality in China and which voluntarily placed its relations with China upon the basis of complete and absolute equality and respect for Chinese governmental sovereignty. The most bitter enemies of Chinese independence could not invent a better argument to support their thesis that China is incapable of administering its own affairs and exercising the full plenitude of its sovereignty and that it is impossible to deal with the Chinese government upon the basis of equality. Let us add that the well-known case of the arrest of the fifteen Soviet citizens during the raid on the Soviet embassy in Peking in 1927, as well as the raid itself, has been repeatedly cited by the imperialists, who were themselves the inspirers of the raid, as an argument against the demands of the Chinese government for equal treatment and the abolition of extraterritoriality, and that there is no doubt that the present action of the Chinese authorities in Manchuria will be used for the same purpose.

For us, however, the most important consideration is the extremely serious situation which is created by actions of this kind between the Soviet Union and China. The Soviet land cannot tolerate such lawlessness and mockery with regard to its consular representatives. The Soviet public cannot tolerate a situation in which bands of Chinese police break into the consulates of the Soviet Union, confiscate the inviolable official correspondence of the consulate, arrest Soviet citizens in the consulate; in which the Chinese police conduct a shameful and irresponsible campaign against the consulate in the press; and in which the local authorities permit themselves to arrest the Soviet consul-general. The note of the Soviet government contained a firm and decisive warning and the Chinese authorities are cruelly mistaken if they believe that they can continue with impunity a policy of provocation, violence, and lawless violation of the elementary rights and interests of their nearest neighbor, the Soviet Union, and its representatives.

The Soviet public demands an immediate answer to the note of the Soviet government of May 31, and the immediate cessation of illegal and provocative acts which in fact exceed any limit of our patience.

Source: Xenia Joukoff Eudin and Robert M. Slusser, eds., Soviet Foreign Policy, 1928-1934; Documents and Materials (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1967), pp. 190-193.

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