On October 1, 1949, the day of the declaration of the People's Republic of China, the civil war is still going on. The intention of uniting the whole of the country is yet to be accomplished. This intention was already formulated on the second CCP congress in June 1922. See
On November 29, the PLA takes over the town of Chongqing, the last residence of the GMD government. Jiang Jieshi leaves for the island of Taiwan. Shortly after this defeat, the important cities of Nanjing and Chengdu fall in the hands of the PLA. The objectives for 1950 are the elimination of the remnants of the Jiang Jieshi troops and conquer or integrate Taiwan, Hainan, Xinjiang, Mongolia, and Tibet to prevent the "American imperialists" of interfering. It will take up to June 1953 until the last enemies on the mainland are beaten. See for Hong Kong and Macao
A striking detail cannot be left unmentioned. In the conquest of Xinjiang, Hainan, Inner Mongolia, the fight was being waged against the GMD troops, but in Tibet the battle is being waged against the Tibetan army itself, the GMD troops had already been dismissed.
is politically a part of the province of Guangdong. After the PLA controlled Guangdong in October 1949. It took preparation for the conquest of Hainan. On the island there is a communist resistance cell, which is very active. In the first week of March 1950, a vanguard of the PLA contacts this group.
Hainan Island located in the South China Sea
"So divergent were the mainland and Hainanese views of the island’s conquest, that, depending on one’s perspective, the Chinese Communist fight for Hainan island had lasted either two weeks or twenty-three years. The final and decisive push in the victorious campaign during the spring of 1950 took only a few weeks, as People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops landed on the island’s northern beaches and joined with the local guerrilla soldiers to defeat the Nationalist forces there. But these guerrillas, the Communist Hainan Column, had been fighting the Nationalists for twenty-three years, since the spring of 1927."
The casualties on PLA side during this campaign are 4000 soldiers, mainly during the sea passage the troops suffer under the attacks of GMD warships. Yet this attack cannot be considered as a rehearsal for the attack on Taiwan.
Murray (2011) notices another reason.
"While the Nationalist central authorities horded munitions and the best-trained troops on Taiwan, Nationalist forces on Hainan languished in bitterness. Many of these troops were ripe for Communist recruitment, and desertion was endemic among those who were healthy enough to make their way to the Communist base areas." The conquest of Hainan was especially of great propaganda value. It once again demonstrated the weakness of the GMD regime and the strength of the PLA. Hainan became strategic important.
and they conclude that soon rather than late, the PLA has to invade Taiwan to protect the surroundings of Shanghai and the town itself against air raids (and less frequently on Amoy, Zhangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and other places.) from GMD planes. The conquest of Taiwan gets the highest priority. A real setback is the message Liu Shaoqi gets during his visit in June 1949 in Moscow. Stalin is not prepared to give air or sea support. Moreover Mao Zedong during his visit in Moscow receives no full support from Stalin. Zhou Enlai tries again during his talk on February 4, 1950, in Moscow with the marshals of the SU, Bulganin and Vasilevsky, he asks the Soviet military leaders to organize the capture of Taiwan. Bulganin answer is negative.
"In terms of Formosa, we will consider your plan but meanwhile we will provide our own opinion. We will not participate in this action directly. We scold and will scold sharply when Americans interfere in China’s own business, so we are not willing to go that far."
His reply to Zhou Enlai to send volunteers is also negative.
"No chance. If necessary, we would train your cadres by providing teachers to your naval and air force academies or give you some must-have utilities. It is also not allowed to hire a voluntary army in democratic countries. In this way, people or those countries which are against China will take advantage of it, and more importantly, it will become America’s great excuse for deploying troops to help the KMT. Thus, it is crucial to cultivate your own people rather than borrow ours."
Aerial reconnaissance by the Soviet Air Force and the Chinese took place, a detailed map of Taiwan indicating possible landing sites on the island and the approach to it by ship was sent to Moscow and Beijing. and "six out of the nine vessels of the Second Fleet that had gone over to the communists in 1949 were sunk by the navy that stayed loyal to the Nationalist government. The remnants of the force were strong enough to fight off the attempts by the PLA…" As soon as the takeover of Shanghai is consolidated, the PLA starts training 37.000 soldiers of the elite forces. Swimming lesson is one of the skills they have to master. The waters around Shanghai are dangerous because of snails. They cause schistosomiasis and within a couple of weeks 38% of the men are contaminated.
"While it is unknown how much this affected the decision to immediately attack Taiwan, clearly the forward momentum had been lost. China‘s announcement of its engagement in the Korean War moved the United States from an unaligned position to one of active protection of Taiwan by its Seventh Fleet. By June 1950, only two months after the last treatment of the decimated soldiers, the window of opportunity had been lost." See
"For the landing operations against Formosa we will certainly draw lessons from the sad experience of the battles for Shantou (Swatow), where we lost three and a half regiments (7 thousand fighters) in one small landing operation." That invasion was part of the tactical plan to first conquer the islands before the coast of Zhejiang and Fujian. In June 1950, the military headquarter decides to enlarge the number of invading armies to 16. Mao Zedong wants to finish the invasion before Kim Il Sung, the leader of North Korea, starts his invasion of South Korea. (See
Kim Il Sung starts his invasion in June 1950 and the Chinese leaders come to the conclusion to postpone the invasion. The main reasons for this delay are the possible obligations for aid to Kim Il Sung, the American blockade of the Taiwan Street and the stationing of American air fighters in South Korea. On August 11, 1950, the decision is made to postpone the invasion until 1952. On August 26, 1950, during a meeting of the PLA top in Beijing, Zhou Enlai has the opinion: "Perhaps in order to induce the armed forces to agree to shelving the plan for liberating Taiwan for the time being, he added that victory in the Korean War would pave the way for the solution of the Taiwan issue." His hopes are in vain, certainly when in February 1951 the US and Taiwan conclude a mutual defense treaty. In this agreement with Taiwan the US agrees to provide Taiwan with certain military materials for the maintenance of internal security and for the defense of Taiwan against possible attacks. Shortly after the Korean cease-fire in July 1953 is signed, the PLA starts thinking about a new Taiwan campaign. A critical phase begins when the US and Taiwan are talking about a military treaty. "The crux of the problem might the understanding by the Chinese leaders of the scope of application of the US-Taiwan treaty. In their view, the treaty would cover islands along Zhejiang and Fujian coast and expand the scope blockade of mainland to “coast of Guangdong Province and Tokyo Bay”. As a result, it would not only cause a protracted separation of Taiwan but also pose more serious security threat to the mainland. Consequently the PLA would not be able to fulfil its set plan of taking over coastal islands. In this sense, to take over islands held by KMT army was strategic action of both offensive and defensive purposes, which was designed to both create conditions for unification and prevent coastal islands from becoming strongholds against the mainland."
On July 16, 1953, GMD troops invade and occupy the major part of Dongshan island, but the PLA defense is much stronger than expected and in the end the 2,700 GMD soldiers and 1,250 PLA soldiers are killed. The
lasted about three days and ended with a total victory of the PLA. See
Dongshan Island Campaign
Dongshan Island Campaign
Mao Zedong explains to him the complexity of the situation regarding
Anastas Mikoyan (1895-1978) Minister of Foreign Trade (1938-1949) Politburo member (1935-1966) Vice-Premier of the Council of Ministers (1946-1953)
. "In essence, it is a British colony, and only formally counts as China’s. Recently the Americans have been flirting with the Tibetans by various means…. Mao Zedong said that once we finish the Civil War and resolve internal political questions inside the country and when the Tibetans feel that we do not threaten them with aggression and treat them equally, then we will solve the subsequent fate of this region. With regard to Tibet we must be careful and patient, taking into account the complex regional mix there and the power of Lamaism." On July 8, 1949, the Tibetan authority decrees that all Han Chinese people have to leave Tibetan territory. The GMD officials and their families leave under military escort the area. "Prior to its “liberation” in September 1949, the CCP had no physical presence Qinghai, few allies, and limited understanding of the region’s ethnic composition, political and religious cleavages, or productive forces." Five months later, on November 2, 1949, Mao Zedong receives a letter of the Tibetan authorities in which they declare the independent status of Tibet.
"As regards those Tibetan territories annexed as part of Chinese territories some years back, the Government of Tibet would desire to open negotiations after the settlement of the Chinese Civil War." Mao Zedong is not prepared to negotiate and emphasizes Tibet, is part of China, and has an important strategical meaning for People's Republic of China. This position is equivalent to the policy of the GMD government. Both parties consider Tibet as an inseparable part of China. This is one of the reasons the US does not support the strive for independence of the Tibetan people. A memorandum of April 12, 1949 explains: "The (State) department therefore temporized and decided to keep its policy flexible by avoiding the issue of the legal status of Tibet. A memorandum concluded that only if the Communists succeeded in gaining control of the mainland and the Nationalists disappeared would it be “clearly to our advantage” to deal with Tibet as an independent state." Knaus (2003) continues: "Not until twenty months later did the State Department face the issue again and inform both the British and the Canadian governments that 'should developments warrant, consideration could be given to recognition of Tibet as an independent state.' These 'developments' never happened, as the exiled Nationalist government on Taiwan remained highly sensitive and vocal about any threat to its plans to 'return to the mainland'."
Because of the climatic conditions, Mao Zedong has the opinion that the PLA has to invade Tibet between May and September. Any delay means a rescheduling until 1951. The government of India tries to find a diplomatic solution of the affair and the CCP offers ten terms for peace negotiation on May 29, 1950. Both attempts fail for one reason or another. Despite the climatic conditions, the PLA starts in October 1950, a campaign to invade Tibet. Remarkable is the fact China has started a war at 2 fronts, one in Korea and one in Tibet. No other country protests.
The Tibetan army is not capable to withstand the PLA. "When CCP leaders and PLA officers were devising concrete strategies and tactics for the planned military operations, their main concern was how to maintain logistical supplies for their own troops, not how to crush resistance by the Tibetans. Mao was fully aware of the long-standing rivalry between the Dalai Lama in Lhasa and the Panchen Lama in Rikaze. From the beginning, the Chinese authorities sought to gain the cooperation and support of the Panchen Lama in order to confer legitimacy on the CCP’s 'liberation of Tibet'."
flees to India. On May 30, 1951 a
14th Dalai Lama assumes full political power November 17, 1950
conclude an agreement with the Chinese government. The treaty determines Tibet as a part of China, but with some autonomy. The document is vague and assures the Tibetan respect for their values and institutions (namely, the theocratic form of government) but on the other hand stipulates gradual changes in economic, social, and political issues. Shortly after the signing of this agreement, the Dalai Lama returns to Lhasa. Liu (2010) notices in the years after 17-point Agreement, several CCP leaders, including Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Zhu De wrote personal letters to the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. "Occasionally, these letters were accompanied with gifts. For instance, an October 1953 letter from Mao to the Dalai Lama included a list of gifts:…, four bolts of yellow satin,... On the same day Mao also wrote a letter to the Panchen Lama and sent similar gifts to him. A careful difference was made to recognize the Dalai Lama’s top position in Tibet—the Panchen Lama received only three bolts of yellow satin. 14 The choice was deliberate. Satin was among the traditional presents that Chinese emperors bestowed on rulers of “dependencies” or “tributary states,” and yellow was the imperial color. It would stretch the point to suggest that the post-1951 Beijing–Lhasa relationship retained elements of the old tributary practices of the imperial period. Yet it is noteworthy that such gift exchanges did not exist between top CCP leaders and any other regional officials in the PRC." Weiner (2020) notices "As is often noted, however, the provisions of the Seventeen-Point Agreement only applied to Central Tibet or, more specifically, the areas in which the Dalai Lama’s government had exercised control during the decades of “de facto independence” that followed the fall of the Qing Empire. Most of Kham and all of Amdo, therefore, were not party to the accord." However, these regions were protacted by the so called "Three Nos": no division of property, no class struggle, and no class delineation”. The "Three Nos" policy had originated in Inner Mongolia. "Ulanhu (Chairman of the Autonomous Government of Inner Mongolia in 1947) had already called for a halt of reform in the pastoral region and pressed for a policy of "Three Nos and Two Benefits" (san bu liang Ii) for Inner Mongolia (...). He proposed that in the pastoral region there should be no property distribution, no class labeling, and no class struggle. Herdlords (muzhu) and their herd workers (mugong) were regarded as symbiotic, with each benefiting the other.. "
May 23, 1951 The Tibetan government signs the 17-Article Agreement
In the next year in April and May 1952, several riots occur in Lhasa, but these are soon brutally beaten down. Mao Zedong is well aware of the difficult situation in Tibet and on April 6, 1952, he sends a directive to CCP leaders handling the Tibet case. The directive reads: "At present, in appearance we should take the offensive and should censure the demonstration and the petition for being unjustifiable (for undermining the Agreement), but in reality we should be prepared to make concessions and to go over to the offensive in the future (i.e., put the Agreement into force) when conditions are ripe." In August and again in September 1954 there are some uprisings and again they are beaten down.
Weiner Benno (2020). The Chinese revolution on the Tibetan frontier. Page 57
In this part of China, the majority of the population are Uyghurs.
Not only Great Britain is interested in the region but also the US is trying to affect the situation in Xinjiang through their consulate in Urumqi. The CIA is active in this part of the world.
Since November 1944, the present Xinjiang is divided in 2 areas. The republic East Turkistan, SU controlled. The other area around Urumqi is "GMD controlled." On June 26, 1949, Guomindang General
declared, he has broken with Jiang Jieshi and joins the PLA. 3 months later, the remaining GMD troops (approximately 71,000 soldiers) revolt and the battle for Xinjiang is decided.
Beijing 1949 Zhang Zhizhong (1895 – 1969) GMD general meets Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong instructs the press ""…on the PLA entering Xinjiang should not use the word 'captured' [zhanling] but should use the word arrived [daoda]; in the commentaries it should be mentioned that the authorities of the army and government in Xinjiang agreed with and welcomed the PLA’s rapid arrival." No underground CCP organizations were available in Xinjiang to begin performing administrative tasks, the old ethnic cadres of the local government in this area remained on their posts. Many of these cadres sought a relationship with the new regime in Beijing as a sort of satellite state, like the relation that formerly existed with the SU. The establishment of Communist rule and the building of a Party organization in Xinjiang was entirely the work of the PLA. A purge in 1951 removes pro-Soviet leaders in the east area of Xinjiang and political structures which have been instituted by the Soviets are dismantled. However the SU influence is partly guaranteed in the supplementary agreement of February 14, 1950. (See
In May 1950, December 1951, March and December 1954 there are several revolts in Xinjiang. See
"Since the 1950s, Turkey has provided political asylum for thousands of Uighurs and other Turkic people from Xinjiang.145 In particular, two prominent leaders of the ETR –
(Mehmet Emin Bugra) and
Muhammad Amin Bughra
Muhammad Amin Bughra (1901-1965). Prime Minister as well as Military Commander of the Turkish Islamic Republic of Eastern Turkestan in 1933.
fled China and ended up in Turkey in the early 1950s." Zhou Enlai explains to Stalin in his conversation of September 19, 1952, the reasons for these uprisings. Sometimes the local CCP politicians are insensitive for native customs Mao (2017) brings up the next point: "People in Xinjiang, most of whom led a nomadic life, often herded, hunted, or fished on both sides of the border on a daily basis. They were also able to visit their friends and relatives or seek jobs on the other side of the border without applying for any official documents." Mao (2017) notices: "...the forging of the Sino-Soviet alliance in the 1950s tended to discourage the Chinese state to strengthen the border, both ideologically and diplomatically. Ideologically, the Marxist-Leninist view was that proletarians should uphold internationalism, rather than nationalism. Based on this viewpoint, both the Soviet Union and China claimed that the Sino-Soviet border was merely nominal."
Isa Yusuf Alptekin,
Isa Yusuf Alptekin (1901-1995). Secretary General in the coalition government between ETR and the KMT provincial government in 1947. He and Muhammad Amin Bughra went to Taiwan to try to persuade the GMD government of the Republic of China to drop its claims to Xinjiang. Their demand was rejected and Taiwan affirmed that it claimed Xinjiang as "an integral part of China"
The new government quickly starts a settlement policy. Demobilized military personnel (more than 20,000 demobilized PLA soldiers and about 80,000 soldiers from the GMD garrison who resided in the region prior to 1949) and political prisoners are sent to the region. Starting in 1951, more than 10.000 prisoners are deported to Xinjiang and in 1954 the total number is more than 27.000 convicts. The first group of about 6,500 Border Supporting Youth arrived in Xinjiang from Shandong Province as early as 1954. They work in agriculture and animal husbandry and build irrigation channels, construct roads, and develop industry. See also
chairman of the Xinjiang government, complains "The region still lacks specialists engineers—in hydro-technology, agronomy, veterinary technology, medicine, veterinary medicine and teaching… and insufficient quantity of local national cadres in Xinjiang." He asks the central government to allow to recruit from "… the Soviet Central Asian republics because they have a large collection of well-trained specialists from among Soviet citizens who previously lived in Xinjiang, who know well the situation in Xinjiang." In 1954, some regional districts and prefectures receive autonomy (By the end of 1954, more than 50 percent of the province’s area had been allotted to autonomous townships, districts, counties, and prefectures) and in October 1955 Xinjiang becomes an autonomous region.
Burhan Shahidi (1894-1989)Chairman Xinjiang Provincial People's Government. Former GMD functionary
Outer Mongolia is since 1911 an independent, but SU-controlled republic. On January 5th, 1946, the GMD government recognizes the independence of Outer Mongolia when in a plebiscite 98% of the Mongols were declared proponents of this independence. The GMD government demands the assurance that the SU, in the future, does not support the Chinese Communists or the Xinjiang rebellion, and recognizes the sovereignty and administrative integrity of Northeast China.
Mongolia and Inner Mongolia
Remarkable is the fact that the CCP in 1923 accepted the independence in the following words. "...on the basis of China’s political reality, further following the spirit of respecting national self-determination, we should not force those people who are different from us economically, in national history, and linguistically, to suffer with us from the pain of imperialist and warlord rule." In reality, the country is a satellite state of the SU. It is only in 1961 the United Nations admits Outer Mongolia as member. Mao Zedong suggests the possibility of joining Outer and Inner Mongolia together as part of China. Mikoyan rejects this proposal. "…this is impossible because Outer Mongolia has long enjoyed independence. After the victory over Japan, the Chinese state, like the Soviet state, recognized the independence of Outer Mongolia. Outer Mongolia has its own army, its own culture, quickly follows the road of cultural and economic prosperity, she has long understood the taste of independence and will hardly ever voluntarily renounce independence. If it ever unites with Inner Mongolia it will surely be [within an] independent Mongolia." 2 days later on February 6, 1949, Mao Zedong agrees with Mikoyan by saying "…they respect the wish of Outer Mongolia to remain a sovereign state, and if it does not want to unite with Inner Mongolia, then one must take this into account, and we are not against this." In other words, he accepts a SU-dominated buffer state at China’s frontier. In January 1950, during the negotiations with Stalin about a new treaty, Mao Zedong affirms: ".. the recognition of Outer Mongolia’s independence will continue to constitute the basic spirit of the new treaty." Shen (2005) remarks "The crucial point here is that the Chinese statement on the independence of Outer Mongolia must be tied to the Sino–Soviet joint statement on the abolition of the treaty of 1945, both serving as an integral part of the Sino–Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance. That is, the quick and easy solution of the Mongolian question was predicated on the abolition of the treaty of 1945, the related agreement, and the appendixes. This Chinese maneuver forced Stalin to make a choice between the control of Mongolia and northeast China."
for 10 years. The negotiations take place in Moscow. Zhou Enlai visits the Mongolian capital not until July 1954. The new government in Beijing is still unhappy and even during Mikoyan’s visit in April 1956, Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi note: "…when the Soviet Union was celebrating the 300-year-anniversary of reunification of Ukraine with Russia, [some people] said in China that 300 years ago Mongolia already was a part of China and asked the question whether it could be re-united with China." Liu Shaoqi continued "The Chinese, consider Mongolia, like Taiwan, a part of their territory." Mikoyan disagrees with this comparison. The same year Mao Zedong apologizes to a Mongolian delegation "In the past, we oppressed you, therefore now we want to admit our mistake. We not only do it so with you but with all national minorities inside the country. In the past, we oppressed them; therefore, if we now do not admit our mistakes, we cannot root out Great Han nationalist thinking and implement [principles of] equality of nationalities."
economic and cultural treaty
Beijing Tsedenbal and Zhou Enlai sign the agreement
Garver (2016) remarks: "In the event of a Soviet-US war, Soviet submarines in the Pacific would attempt to interdict US ships deploying US men and war matériel forward to bases in Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines. Soviet submarine operations in the Pacific were greatly hampered, however, by the need for those boats to transit relatively narrow and US-monitored straits exiting the Sea of Japan before they could reach the high Pacific Ocean where their American shipping targets would be. Submarine operations based on Taiwan would face no dangerous straits. Soviet boats operating from Taiwan could quickly reach deep water off the continental shelf under the protection of Soviet aircraft based on Taiwan. 23 If used by the PLA, Taiwan would not be militarily significant to the United States. If used by Soviet armed forces, however, it would pose a major threat to the United States in the event of a war against the Soviet Union. Beijing’s close military alliance with Moscow transformed for the United States the significance of potential control of Taiwan by Beijing. Garver (2016). Page 37
and 29-07-1954 Memorandum of Conversation, between Soviet Premier Georgy M. Malenkov and Zhou Enlai
21-10-1950 Notes Exchanged between Delhi and Peking in 1950 Memorandum of the Government of the Republic of India on the question of Tibet
24-12-1950 Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 'Report on Negotiations regarding the Tibet issue between China and India'
Fisher notes "It was therefore important to the Indian position in Tibet that an agreement was reached between the Chinese and Indian Governments that converted the Indian Mission at Lhasa into a Consulate General. Such an agreement was announced on September 15, 1952. In return, the Indian Government agreed to the opening of a Chinese Consulate General in Bombay. It carried with it implicit recognition of China's suzerain rights, and gave no written guarantee of Tibetan autonomy." Fisher (1963). Page 83
Deng Liqun states "...,the Soviet Consulate [in Yining] had issued as many Soviet citizenships as they could to people in the Three Districts, who still kept Chinese citizenship .... Nearly all officers at all levels of the Three Districts Revolutionary Government had dual citizenship. In this way, numerous things had to be reported to, and permissions were required from, the Soviet Consulates." Cited in Wang (1996). Page 95.
Mao (2017) states "On the eve of the CCP takeover in late 1949, being all but isolated from China proper geographically and facing the historical inadequacy of transportation and communication, this region was more appendage to the Soviet Union than the Chinese state. " Mao (2017). Page 23
Shen (2012b) remarks "Soviet influence and control was exercised through the Association of Soviet Citizens Abroad, “a country within a country,” not through occupation of territory or by treaty. Stalin was thus in a good position to concede on Xinjiang, and thereby deprive the Chinese Communists of any justification to put Xinjiang on the agenda." Shen (2012b). Page 73
See also treaty between Xinjiang and SU 01-10-1931 Sinkiang-USSR provincial agreement
See 29-12-1949 Report of Cde. Peng Dehuai about the Situation in Xinjiang
See also 26-09-1949 Cable with Message from Mao Zedong to Stalin.
And see also 12-10-1949 Mao Zedong requests assistance with shipments of fuel, troops, and aircraft to Urumchi 14-10-1949 Stalin honours Mao Zedong's requests assistance with shipments of fuel, troops, and aircraft to Urumchi 16-11-1949 Cable from Gromyko to Kovalev
The “Three Anti” campaign was not to uncover financial misconduct among the cadres but to eliminate Han chauvinism, and local nationalism in Xinjiang
24-09-1956 Memorandum of Conversation between Mao Zedong and the Delegation of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party [MRPR] and Comments on the Distribution of the Memorandum of Conversation [↩]