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Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin – Chapter 14

The Lowlife Who Betrayed His Own Nation (The End of 1999)

The Epoch Times Editorial Board
Aug 17, 2005

Vladivostok, Chabarovsk, Nerchinsk, Sakhalin Obl, the outer Xing’an Mountains, Sakhalin Island, the sixty-four villages east of the Heilongjiang River—these names can never be erased from the minds of China’s people. These vast and fertile lands in the northeastern parts of China, inherited from ancestors of the Chinese nation, now stand as a source of pain and humiliation for most every Chinese citizen.

December 9 and 10 of 1999 are two days of disgrace that the Chinese people will not soon forget. During those two days, China’s Jiang Zemin and Russia’s president, Boris Yeltsin, signed in Beijing the Narrative Protocol on Eastern and Western Sections of the China-Russia Boundary between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Russian Federation. The lands covered in the Protocol, which could have been returned to China in the same manner as Hong Kong and Macao, were given away to Russia by Jiang. The move, done behind the backs of the Chinese people for Jiang’s own purposes, ended prospects of further development.

As is well known, for nearly a century Sino-Russian border disputes have been constant, with war erupting in fact in the 1960s. If the treaty had brought a peaceful settlement to the century-old disputes it would have been a monumental event, something that would have put Jiang—a self-aggrandizer who this time purportedly wanted to form a strategic partnership—in the media’s spotlight.

Coverage of the treaty signing in the People’s Daily (carried in its December 11, 1999, edition) only amounted to a brief sketch of no more than a few dozen words. Robert Kuhn’s book, meanwhile, didn’t so much as mention the event. Odd is this, of course, for an event that should have had major bearing on the nation. There is not even a trace in Kuhn’s book about the Beijing meeting between Jiang and Yeltsin. Then we might ask: why would Jiang wish his biographer and the state press to avoid such a major meeting as this, even rewriting history?

The answer lies in the fact that the treacherous treaty Jiang signed masks several alarming, behind-the-scenes deals that took place. The Protocol that Jiang signed ceded more than 1 million square kilometers of precious land—an area equal in size to that of three northeastern China provinces combined or dozens of Taiwans. Jiang also agreed to give Russia the exit point of the Tumen River, cutting off northeast China from the Sea of Japan.

Several chunks of land in northern China were lost in the deal, among which were the Waixing region, an area of more than 600,000 square kilometers south of the outer Xing’an Mountains and south of the Heilongjiang River; the Wudong region, an area of more than 400,000 square kilometers east of the Ussuri River; the Tuva region, of 170,000 square kilometers; and Sakhalin Island, with its 76,400 square kilometers.

The new Protocol refuted the Treaty of Nerchinsk, an equitable border treaty signed by China and Russia after Chinese soldiers won a bloody war in the years of Emperor Kangxi (ruled 1661–1722). In addition, Jiang’s signing had the effect of recognizing all inequitable treaties that had been made between China and Russia, including the Treaty of Aigun (1858), the Treaty of Beijing (1860), and others; previous Chinese governments—including the Nationalist (KMT) government and previous Communist administrations—had refused to recognize them. The new protocol went further in permanently giving to Russia controversial lands Russia had occupied by force. These lands included the Tuva Region, an area of about 170,000 square kilometers (equal to Guizhou Province) that was made a Chinese territory by a UN General Assembly vote in 1953; the sixty-four villages east of the Heilongjiang River, an area of 3,600 square kilometers (three times the size of Hong Kong) and one even the inequitable Treaty of Aigun (1858) had posited as Chinese territory; and Sakhalin Island, a territory of 76,400 square kilometers (twice the size of Taiwan) that was under China’s jurisdiction in the Jin Dynasty and officially incorporated into China by the Treaty of Nerchinsk.

Successive Chinese governments in the past had fought hard to resist the invasions of Russia, and no previous governments since the establishment of the Republic of China recognized the inequitable treaties. Furthermore, China’s communist rulers had at one time stated and insisted that “all the previous governments of China have never recognized the borders imposed by imperialist forces, and neither shall the People’s Republic of China.”

The legal basis for that stance is the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, whose Article 52 dictates that any treaty “concluded under the threat or use of force” is invalid. An array of treaties that ceded territories and the paying of reparations signed by China with czarist Russia and the former Soviet Union—such as the Treaty of Aigun, the Treaty of Beijing, and Sino-Russian Treaty on Northwestern Boundary—were typical inequitable treaties, each signed under the threat of force, and thus not legally valid. Another unlawful agreement was the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895), which was signed after the Qing government lost the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895 and permanently ceded Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands to Japan. Since the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) was an inequitable treaty, the Government of the Republic of China regained sovereignty over Taiwan after Japan was defeated in the Second World War.

If the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) serves as a precedent, then the Chinese government has had ample grounds for asking the return of the lands ceded to czarist Russia and the former Soviet Union. The Lenin Government of the former Soviet Union had itself officially acknowledged that these territories belonged to China and had intended to return them, affirming a legal basis for China to reclaim the lands at a later time.

As for the Chinese territories such as the Tuva Region, the sixty-four villages east of the Heilongjiang River, and Sakhalin Island for which the two sides had not signed treaties, inequitable or otherwise, China has had even more solid legal grounds for their reclamation. But instead of trying to get them back, Jiang—incredibly—chose to give them away. It is for this reason, Chinese persons familiar with the facts call Jiang the “biggest traitor in modern Chinese history.”

To make matters even worse, the treacherous treaties Jiang signed practically ended the potential for further growth of China as a nation. The vast and fertile lands bequeathed from past generations, bountiful in forests and rich in minerals and oil, stood as important resources in the potential growth and development of China. Of China’s 9, 600,000 square kilometers of land, deserts and desertified areas constitute around thirty-three percent of all land, while seriously-eroded land accounts for roughly thirty-eight percent. Less than one-third of all land is thus habitable. The population in China has shifted from the Yellow River valley towards the Yangtze River in the south and the coastlines in southeastern China, with nowhere to move further but the oceans. Meanwhile, as China’s population continues to grow arable land only continues to shrink and the country’s ecology continues to deteriorate. China’s land is fast approaching the limits of sustainability. The expansive and rich land Jiang gave away could was, in many ways, the hope for China’s future development. In this light Jiang has does nothing short of severe China’s path to the future.

Few people understand why Jiang would sign a treaty as treacherous as this. In Chapter Two of this book the answer was, in fact, provided. If Jiang’s identity as a special agent in the Far East—an agent recruited by the KGB, that is—were ever brought to light, both he and the CCP would probably fall from power overnight. And in fact, this is precisely why the CCP has not sought to hold Jiang accountable for the blunder, even after it discovered his backroom dealings.

Sino-Russian territorial issues, involving a mix of complex antipathy rooted in the past and feelings of nationalism, have always been pointed. In view of the fact that treason such as Jiang is guilty of is no minor matter, a full chapter (such as this) is in order that provides a detailed account of Jiang’s bizarre decision. The issue is herein discussed in terms of its historical background, what international law has to say, the impact of the cession on China, and the untold reasons at work. Possible solutions to the problem and other matters will similarly be considered. What will become clear is that Jiang, out of self interest, offered virtually free land to Russia that China could have instead recovered. Land, that is, which the former Soviet Union had once intended to return and that is of vital strategic importance to China in terms of development. What Jiang’s move has brought China goes beyond disgrace to matters of the nation’s future well being.

1. Territorial Sovereignty

Russia, a nation that historically didn’t share borders with China, began its aggression and expansion during its czarist era. The Russian aggressors who invaded the northeastern parts of China and occupied Yaksa and its surrounding areas in the Heilongjiang River valley committed murder, arson, rape, plunder, and most every crime imaginable. In 1685 China’s Emperor Kangxi sent troops to recover the lost territories, conquering Yaksa twice and forcing the casualty-plagued Russian army to surrender. On September 7, 1689, czarist Russia and the Qing Dynasty government signed the Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk after negotiations in Nerchinsk. According to the treaty, China and Russia were divided by the Gorbitsa River—a stretch reaching from the Gorbitsa River along the outer area of the Xing’an Mountains to the sea—and the Erguna River, with Russia on the north and China to the south. The treaty was concluded by China and Russia on the basis of equality and could be used as a legal framework in Sino-Russian border negotiations. However, the treaty was completely annulled in the hands of Jiang Zemin.

The Qing governments after 1840 were corrupt and weak, and czarist Russia seized the opportunity to intrude into China. A review of all the unfair treaties China signed with western powers after the Opium Wars (1840–1842) points to the fact that while provisions of ceding territories and paying reparations were not rare, no other country annexed as much Chinese land as Russia. Worse still, as most Chinese lands occupied by other countries were returned to China in the aftermath of World War II, the former Soviet Union was the only exception: it not only failed to return an inch of land, but even continued to annex and nibble away at China’s territory.

Over the course of its invasions, czarist Russia signed seventeen inequitable treaties with China, three of which took the most land from China—a total of more than 1 million square kilometers. These were the Treaty of Aigun (1858), the Treaty of Beijing (1860), and the Sino-Russian Treaty on the Northwestern Boundary.

The Treaty of Aigun (1858)

The Second Opium War broke out in October of 1856 (the sixth year of the Xianfeng Period). In May of 1858 the British-French alliance took Dagu, threatening Tianjin and shocking Beijing. The Russian Cossack army, led by Muravyov, the governor of eastern Siberia, seized the opportunity to advance to the outskirts of Aigun. On the pretext of assisting China against the British attacks, Muravyov, escorted by two gunboats, entered the city of Aigun to negotiate with Yishan, the general from the Qing Dynasty who was stationed in Heilongjiang. He demanded the invalidation of the Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk and the right to occupy the area north of the Heilongjiang River and east of the Ussuri River. General Yishan gave in under the threat of force from czarist Russia, and was forced to sign the Treaty of Aigun with Muravyov on May 28, 1858.

The three articles in the Treaty of Aigun provided that more than 600,000 square kilometers of Chinese territory north of the Heilongjiang River and south of the outer Xing’an Mountain area be ceded to Russia, while China was allowed to maintain residence and jurisdiction in a small area southeast of the upper reaches of the Zeya River near Aigun. The Chinese territory east of the Ussuri River was to be administered by China and Russia jointly, and only Chinese and Russian vessels would be allowed to navigate on the Heilongjiang and Ussuri Rivers—waters originally Chinese.

It should be noted that the Qing government did not give its approval to the Treaty of Aigun, and afterwards disciplined General Yishan along with others.

The Treaty of Beijing (1860)

In October of 1860 (the tenth year of the Xianfeng Period), the British-French alliance invaded and occupied the western suburbs of Beijing. Emperor Xianfeng fled with his empress, concubines, relatives, and high officials to the palace in Rehe. Prince Yi Xin, the emperor’s brother, stayed to negotiate peace. Anxious to have peace, Yi Xin asked the Russian minister in China, Igonadiev, to be the mediator. Igonadiev seized the opportunity to pressure the Qing government to agree to his territorial claims. On November 14, Yi Xin signed the Sino-Russian Treaty of Beijing under coercion. In addition to recognizing the Treaty of Aigun, the Treaty of Beijing converted the joint administration of Chinese territory east of the Ussuri River to sole Russian ownership, and stipulated that the western Sino-Russian borderline be redrawn. In this way, China lost about 1 million square kilometers of its land in the northeast. With about 400,000 square kilometers of the coastal area from the Heilongjiang River to the Tumen River now owned by Russia, China had furthermore lost its access to the Sea of Japan.

The Sino-Russian Treaty on the Northwestern Boundary

Czarist Russia started coveting the western parts of China in the early nineteenth century. During the years of Emperor Daoguang’s reign (1782–1850), czarist Russia occupied the seven-river region southeast of Lake Balkhash, including the Kelatale River and the Yili River. In the fourth year of Emperor Xianfeng’s period (1854), Russians took Alma-ata by force and seized the area in the lower reach of the Yili River. In September of 1864 (the third year of Emperor Tongzhi’s period), the Qing government, faced with the Russian army bearing down on the border and a domestic rebellion from Muslims in the Xinjiang region, started negotiations with the Russians at Tacheng. Under the threat of force and political blackmail by Russia, the Qing government was forced to sign the Sino-Russian Treaty on the Northwester Boundary on October 7. Through the Sino-Russian Treaty of Beijing and the Sino-Russian Treaty on the Northwestern Boundary, Russia seized three large lakes in western China—Lake Balkhash, Zhaisang Lake, and Issy Kui Lake —and their neighboring areas for a total of 440,000 square kilometers. [1]

Other Inequitable Treaties

Czarist Russia forced the Qing government to sign the Sino-Russian Treaty of Yili in the tenth year of Emperor Tongzhi’s reign (1861–1875), and later between the eighth to the tenth year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1887–1908) it again coerced the Qing government to conclude five protocols on border surveys with a view to redrawing the Sino-Russian western borders. Through the Sino-Russian Treaty of Yili, czarist Russia annexed the Chinese lands northeast of Tacheng and west of Yili and Kashiger, a total of over 70,000 square kilometers.

Lands Taken by Force

In addition to taking Chinese lands through treaties that forced agreements upon corrupt and weak Qing governments, czarist Russia also used force to annex areas that were designated in treaties as Chinese territories.

On July 24, 1900, czarist Russia, on the pretext of the outbreak of the anti-imperialist Yihetuan Movement, besieged sixty-four villages east of the Heilongjiang River—a Chinese territory according to the Treaty of Aigun—with 170,000 troops. All told some 160,000 Chinese were slain, with many women being raped before being killed. Most of the victims were burned to death, and less than half of the population was able to escape. Russian soldiers chased down and killed those who tried to run towards the bank of the Heilongjiang River; they were ultimately either shot or drowned, their blood reddening the waters. The sixty-four villages east of the Heilongjiang River were from then on occupied by czarist Russia.

The chief culprit of the bloody massacre in the sixty-four villages was Czar Nicholas II. At the funeral for Nicholas II held by Boris Yeltsin, Jiang Zemin, instead of lodging a complaint and protest as one might expect, tried to ingratiate himself with Yeltsin. An eager Jiang even went so far as to greet Yeltsin with a large, intimate hug, much to the Russian leader’s embarrassment. Jiang’s display, caught on film by a western journalist, couldn’t have been more sordid. Jiang, moreover, went to Russia himself to attend a memorial ceremony for Cossack murderers who had killed tens of millions of Chinese citizens. And it was he who personally ceded the sixty-four villages east of the Heilongjiang River to Russia in the Protocol.

Sakhalin Island, the largest island in China, is located to the east of the Heilongjiang River. It borders the Sea of Okhotsk on its east and north, overlooks the mainland through the Tatarskiy Straits on its west, and conjoins with Japan through the Perouse Strait to the south. The island, with an area of 76,400 square kilometers—twice the size of Taiwan—has been under Chinese jurisdiction since the Jin Dynasty. The Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk of 1689 also affirmed China’s ownership of the island. In 1789 a Russian expeditionary force invaded the island and drove out its native inhabitants—the Hezhe people (of the Xianbei nationality)—taking exclusive control of the coal and oil deposits on the island.

The Tuva Region, a narrow strip to the northwest of Mongolia and sandwiched between the Sayan Ridge on the north and Tangnu Mountain to the south, has a total area of 170,000 square kilometers—the size of China’s southwestern province of Guizhou. Russia plotted its independence in the 1920s, and then included the island within its own boundaries in 1944. From the Chinese governments of the Qing Dynasty all the way through to the KMT government and the Communist government under Mao Zedong, none recognized the independence of the Tuva Region, whose population was predominantly Chinese. In 1953 the UN General Assembly decided through a vote that the Tuva Region was Chinese territory.

Positions of Various CCP Regimes

Territory is an extremely sensitive issue in China, and thus no leaders in China’s modern history dared to act rashly and officially recognize the inequitable treaties signed in the past.

According to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, treaties signed under the threat of force have no validity. Previous Chinese governments had thus, in this light, never recognized the inequitable treaties discussed above. In 1972 Mao Zedong officially informed the Soviet Union, through its embassy in Beijing, of China’s decision that Beijing categorically rejected nine of the seventeen inequitable treaties that czarist Russia had imposed on China. After mainland China regained its seat in the United Nations, Mao similarly told the UN that China did not accept the nine unfair treaties. “The Soviet Union—both its czarist empire and the red Soviet Union—has taken too much of our land,” said Mao to Nixon when the two met in 1972. “These occupied lands are too numerous to count. Some Chinese governments, such as the KMT government and the governments in the Qing Dynasty, have made more statements than I in this regard. What I am reclaiming now are the parts least claimed under international law and those that clearly belong to China based on historical facts,” Mao said.

In October of 1978, a spokesman for Beijing pointed out that between 1960 and 1969, Soviet Russia took away 185 square miles of Chinese territory; another 1080 square miles were taken from Yili, in the Xinjiang region, in the years between 1972 to 1977. He added that in addition to the disputed areas, Russia occupied by force 3,475 square miles of Chinese land. China revealed on September 29, 1979, that the areas contested by Russia and China in twenty districts of the Xinjiang region were between 11,600 and 29,696 square miles in size. On January 8, 1982, Li Xiannian stated that Russia held all the disputed areas along the Sino-Russian border, which amounted to 90,000 square kilometers.

A brief review of history reveals that from the years of czarist Russia on through the USSR, Russia made a regular practice of seizing Chinese land, both by scheming and by force. Neither the KMT government nor the Communist government under Mao ever dared to recognize the treaties associated with these losses or the legitimacy of the Russian occupation.

2. The Soviets Once Intended to Return the Occupied Lands

Both czarist Russia and the Soviet Union after the October Revolution of 1917 had deliberately planned to invade and occupy China’s territory, the only exception being the time when the soviet communists first took power. Vulnerable to the risk of being stamped out by powers from the West, the newborn regime led by Lenin wooed China into helping resist its enemies by way of offering to return land in China it had come to occupy.

In a declaration to China issued in 1919, Lenin pronounced, “all the lands taken, by means of aggression, from China’s Manchuria and other places during the times under the governments of the former Russian empire shall be forsaken.” On September 27, 1920, the Soviet government stated again, “all the treaties concluded with China by the successive Russian governments in the past shall be invalidated; all the lands taken from China and all Russia’s concessions within China shall be forsaken; and everything savagely taken from China by the czarist government and Russian capitalist class shall be returned to China permanently without any conditions.” [2]

Lenin died before he could fulfill his promises. After Stalin came to power, he first denied that the declaration made to China existed and then tried to silence the witnesses through murder; Levin Karahen was thus killed on the charge of treason. It had been Karahen who, as deputy minister of the people’s commission on foreign affairs, signed the declaration.

But regardless of whether Stalin acknowledged the declaration, both nations had to adhere to it, as it was an officially signed legal document. Yet incredibly Jiang, after coming to power, overturned the declaration and quietly ceded the lands to Russia when instead they should have been returned to China.

3. Signing a Treaty Before Negotiating

From the time that China introduced reforms and started in the late 1970s to open up, Jilin Province had sought to gain access to the sea at the Tumen River. Access would have far-reaching effects on economic development in the province and play a critical role in advancing its economy.

So as to hasten gaining access to the sea, the provincial government of Jilin invested heavily for several years in improving the province’s infrastructure (covering municipalities, roads, and railroads in Huichun city and surrounding areas) and conducted a number of negotiations with Russia. Owing to the fact that the “Treaty Ceding Tumenjiang” was an inequitable treaty, after more than three years of efforts by Jilin the coastal frontier region of Russia announced its intention to cooperate with China and build a harbor. But, just as the smooth negotiations were about to enter the critical decision-making phase, Jiang Zemin privately signed his treacherous agreement with Russia—the “Protocol on the Eastern Section of the Boundary between China and Russia.” The move left China’s negotiators dumbfounded. With the Tumen River’s entry point to the sea now virtually sealed off, the strategic plan on which the people of Jilin had pinned so much hope amounted to but a pile of waste paper.

A Chinese representative who participated in several negotiations on Sino-Russian cooperation on the Tumen River’s point of entry to the sea said angrily, “Throughout the talks we fought hard based on reason and by quoting authoritative documents. Unexpectedly, at that decisive meeting [which took place in parallel to China and Russia negotiating and signing Jiang’s protocol], the Russian representative, who was levelheaded and moderate at first, turned inflexible upon receiving a call. He then refused to cooperate with us. The negotiations that had been favorable up to that point suddenly ran aground.”

The Chinese representative later learned that China and Russia had just signed the land treaty and that the Chinese government had not found time to notify its people. Russia, however, had informed its representative immediately, and it was thus that he promptly toughened his stand. The Russians who were present at the negotiations were reportedly surprised to see Jiang so readily sign the Protocol.

The strategy to “open up the frontier and gain access to the sea” that Jilin Province had worked toward for five years—investing a great deal of human, material, and financial resources—was now reduced to naught.

The Tenth Five-Year Plan for the Economic and Social Development of Jilin Province, a lengthy report formulated by the government in Jilin after the Protocol was signed, didn’t dare to mention a word about its former aspirations.

4. Jiang Robbed Each Chinese Citizen of One Mu of Land

According to Article 7 of China’s Law on the Procedure of the Conclusion of Treaties of 1990, six types of treaties cannot be signed by the president directly; rather they have to be approved by the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress. Among them, the first type relates to “political treaties on friendly cooperation and peace” and the second is associated with “treaties on territory and border demarcation.”

Common sense is here all it takes to understand the following. First consider that Jiang Zemin ascended to the top of China’s political leadership not by the choice of the people but by the choice of a few: he was picked to rule by conservative CCP elders. As such, hardly could it be said Jiang had the right to sign treaties on behalf of the Chinese people. Or further consider that China’s territory belongs to all of the nation’s people (is it not, in name, the People’s Republic of China?), not merely Jiang. As such, on a matter as important as deciding the ownership of China’s land, not even examination and approval of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress should be enough: such matters should be brought to the attention of the nation at large and, when necessary, a referendum should be held.

Far from that, however, China’s people have been kept in the dark about the recent treaty on the Sino-Russian border that Jiang signed. Up to this day hardly any know what took place.

The overemphasis on economic development by China’s communist government has caused resulted in chronic environmental problems. The arable land in China has decreased from two mu per person in the 1980s to at present 1.4 mu per person, and it continues to shrink. Most of the 1 million square kilometers of land given away by Jiang were fertile. A well known song in China portrays the rich land in the three northeastern provinces of China this way: “My hometown is in the Songhua River area of the northeast, where, in addition to forests and coal mines, vast fields of soy beans and sorghum can be found...” And the land ceded by Jiang was even richer. As some people vividly described it, “Oil would come forth with just a squeeze” of the soil there. Based on a formula in which one square kilometer equals 1,500 mu, it could be said that Jiang robbed each of China’s 1.3 billion citizens of one mu of fertile, arable land.

5. Security Risks for China Caused by Jiang

Lin Zexu, a great patriot and hero of modern Chinese history who was exiled by Emperor Daoguang to the Xinjiang region, discovered czarist Russia’s ambition to invade China. Months before he died, Lin cried out to the nation, “The ultimate threat to China is Russia! I am old and you must be aware of it.” Sadly—owing to Jiang’s treachery—ours is the generation that has seen Lin’s fears played out.

Troops Pull Back, Large Areas Defenseless

Jiang, in his capacity as Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), ordered the withdrawal of Chinese border troops such that 500 kilometers of the border was left without any defenses. The areas for Russia, Kazakstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan which were left undefended, however, reached a mere 100 kilometers from the border (the exception being a few areas along Russia’s coastal frontiers). At the 100 kilometer line and beyond, the four nations have deployed a total force of, by one account, 130,000 troops (120,000 of which are Russian), 3,900 tanks (90 percent of which are Russian), 5,800 armed vehicles (90 percent of which are Russian), 4,500 pieces of artillery, 290 fighter planes, and 434 helicopters. But China can only deploy troops 500 kilometers from the border.

The above secret was revealed in 2002 by Viktor Litovkin, a military commentator for a Russian news agency. He wrote an article that revealed Russia to be the major winner in the protocol deal, contrary to what some Russians had alleged. Litovkin’s interpretation was indeed accurate, for if war were to break out, the Russians and others could launch their attacks from a mere 100 kilometers from the border while China could only respond from a distance of 500 kilometers.

Litovkin’s article disclosed, “To strengthen mutual trust in the military zone, Beijing took a series of unprecedented measures and undertook unilateral obligations. Specifically it agreed that in the areas along the borders with these countries, no troops, except border personnel, would be deployed within 500 kilometers of the borders. For Russia and a few other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, ‘the defenseless area’ along the border is 100 kilometers wide.”

The article, as if teasing a vulnerable opponent, stated, “The ‘inequality’ in the different applications of 100 and 500 kilometers in width with respect to the ‘defenseless areas’ of Russia and China lies in a simple fact, and that is, the reason we could not withdraw our troops 500 kilometers from the border as the Chinese did is that the cost would be too high for us […] China expressed an understanding of the circumstance.”

The defenseless areas for Russia are all wild forests and a military pullback would not cost much, while the defenseless areas for China contain many expensive military installations. Destruction of the latter would cost China dearly. Why did Jiang not go for an “equal” treaty? A Russian withdrawal was said to be costly. Well, what of China’s pulling out? China is not that rich either. And even if she were, signing a lopsided, scandalous treaty of this nature would make little sense.

Litovkin’s article revealed for his Russian readership the bottom line, writing, “The reduction of [Russian] forces on the frontiers with China, especially when its expenses are compared with those spent on military withdrawals from eastern Europe and the three coastal states along the Baltic, would cost us virtually nothing.”

In other words, Russia and the federated republics of the former Soviet Union are fully armed with more than 100,000 troops deployed on the border, while Jiang rendered China defenseless. What’s left then in terms of national defenses?

The Chinese troops deployed on the border, filled with indignation upon learning of the treaty, refused to follow the withdrawal order. Jiang then redeployed all of China’s northern defense troops who knew the truth to the southern province of Fujian, wishing to please Russia by effecting a quick pullout. What, then, was behind Jiang’s rash acts? Kuhn’s book indirectly answers this question.

In Part 2 of Kuhn’s book, covering the 1989–1996 period, ironically entitled “Leadership,” Kuhn explains that Jiang was in a politically precarious position at that time. In Chapter 14 he writes, “Jiang built on his growing momentum with a series of strategic moves.” [3] “He held a conclave of General Staff officers and regional commanders to plan defense strategies; the deeper agenda was ensuring the army’s loyalty after the wave of far-reaching personnel changes.” [4]

The passages in the above chapter lay bare Jiang’s fear. Jiang, afraid that Deng would strip him of power at any moment, tried to establish his base in the military by offering military ranks to officers and bribing the army. Jiang further hoped that he would get help from Russia and other neighbors in consolidating his power. These are major reasons why a power-hungry Jiang secretly signed an unequal treaty that left China defenseless for fully 500 kilometers within its borders.

Geopolitics

Owing to geographical reasons, Russia has always coveted Chinese land and sought opportunities to annex China’s territory as well as collect information on China in the name of “cooperation and exchange.” In the twenty-second year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign in the Qing Dynasty (1896), czarist Russia, in the name of common defense against Japanese hegemony in Asia, gained rights to build the Zhongdong railroad; its means were forcing the Qing government to sign the Sino-Russian Secret Treaty, also known as the “Treaty on Alliance of Defense.” The line was to extend from Siberia through Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces all the way to Vladivostok. Its purpose was to “conquer policy through the railroad” and bring Russian influence into the northeastern parts of China by including the Mongolian-Manchurian region—of which Heilongjiang and Jilin were parts—in its sphere of interests. The ultimate goal was to annex the three northeastern Chinese provinces. The scheme fell through as a result of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904.

In early 1945 when the Second World War was approaching its end, the former Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain held a summit at Yalta. At the summit the U.S. and Britain urged the Soviets to send troops to northeast China so as to expedite the surrender of the Japanese. Stalin seized the opportunity to coerce the KMT government to recognize Mongolia’s independence. KMT general Chiang Ching-kuo, who was in Moscow for negotiations, asked Stalin, “Why do you insist that Mongolia become independent? Mongolia, though large in area, is sparsely populated and has an inadequate system of roads. Besides, it doesn’t have much to offer for export.” Stalin replied, “To be frank with you, I wanted Mongolia on grounds of its military and strategic value.” Pointing to a map, Stalin added, “Russia would be done for if a military force were to attack the Soviet Union from Mongolia and cuts off the railroad at Siberia.”

An article carried by the People’s Daily on July 31 of 2001 recounted the following story. In July of 1958 the Soviet ambassador to China, Eugene, presented to Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, and other Chinese leaders a Soviet proposal that a Sino-Soviet joint fleet be formed against the United States on grounds that the area of operations for the Soviet fleet was limited by its geographic circumstances and China happened to have a long coastline. Mao immediately expressed uneasiness over the proposal, which encroached upon Chinese sovereignty. Mao was further upset when he recalled another Soviet offer, made just the day before, to build a long-wave radio station under joint Sino-Soviet administration. Mao thus asked Khrushchev to come to Beijing in person and discuss the matter. On July 31, 1958, Khrushchev, the first Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, arrived in China and met Mao for a talk the same day. During their talk, Mao asked Khrushchev more than once to explain what he meant by “joint fleet.” Unable to give a straightforward answer, Khrushchev beat about the bush and finally admitted that it was unthinkable to have one fleet under the control of two states.

An article from a Russian news agency on December 18, 2002, further disclosed, “Interestingly, even when Igor Rodionov, Russia’s former Minister of Defense, called China ‘Russia’s potential rival in the twenty-first century’ during his visit to Beijing in 1997, the climate of mutual trust between Russia and China was not affected in any way. Beijing only considered the general’s words as an expedient measure, with which he ‘could exert pressure on his own government so that more funds could be allocated for the development of the armed forces.’ ”

Obviously, Russia has never considered China a friend. To the contrary, it has consistently viewed China as “Russia’s potential rival in the twenty-first century.” Jiang Zemin, however, exercised no caution in his engagement of Russia and enacted agreements with Russia on border disarmament. Disarmament, that is, that ordered Chinese border troops to withdraw further from a border that had already been scaled back, leaving areas within 500 kilometers of the border undefended. Jiang thus helped Russia establish a buffer zone of sorts, compromising China’s defenses. The move paved the way for potential disaster at the hands of the Russian army—a scenario described in the book Basic Geopolitics, by Professor Dujin.

6. A Dead-End Deal

While it might be hard to surmise at present just how much harm the treaty will ultimately bring China, it’s likely to go beyond the immediate effects of loss of face, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. The treaty could well prove fatal for China, as one writer speculated in a December 28, 2000, article: “of the once-in-a-century type disaster, calamity, peril, or danger that befalls China periodically, this one [the treaty] is the worst.” [5]

This is by no means exaggeration.

Although China, with its area of 9,060,000 square kilometers, is the third largest nation in the world, its per capita arable land stands only at 1.4 mu—but one third of the world’s average and one ninth that of the United States. China, with plateaus in the west, wasteland in the northwest, grassland and desert in the north, and seas to the southeast, is not blessed with favorable natural conditions. Only 3 million square kilometers of its land is fit for habitation—a mere twenty-nine percent of its total area. At a time when patriotic Chinese are caught up in the idea that “the twenty-first century is China’s century,” the Chinese government has to consider in its policy-making the question of sustainability and population distribution in the new century, for its population is already close to maxing out what its natural resources can sustain.

The Chinese government rolled out a strategy to develop the western regions of China at the 1999 central meetings on economic development. Ostensibly the government wished to promote economic growth out west, improve the rather isolated and backward state of things there, and address the development gap between the eastern and western regions of China by focusing on three key areas: improving the environment, building infrastructure, and developing special local industries. Experts, however, understood the policy differently.

Demographic patterns have remained basically unchanged since Hu Huanyong was able to plot in the 1930s a nearly straight line that stretches from Aihui (in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang) to Tengchong (in the southwestern province of Yunnan)—a line that separates the eastern areas of dense population from those of the thinly populated west. The area northwest of the Hu Huanyong Line, as it came to be called, accounts for 64 percent of the nation’s total land though it only amounts to 5.6 percent of the population. Southeast of the line, on the other hand, the area constitutes 36 percent of the land, while the population there constitutes a dramatic 94.4 percent. Thus China’s society is clearly inclined towards the southeast. For almost half a century now the population center has been shifting slightly in a narrow coastal strip in the southeast—an area comprised of about 1 million square kilometers. Driven by a mix of factors such as population growth, excess exploitation, and environmental degradation, China’s population and development have continued to move towards the more naturally endowed southeast. With the southeastern regions fully developed now, people, should they wish to continue expanding in that direction, have nowhere to go but the Pacific Ocean.

Will “development of the western region”—a call often heard nowadays—really lift China out of this predicament? Not long after China’s State Council put forward this strategy, a research fellow from People’s University published a study entitled Population Distribution and Sustainable Development in China. The piece argues that, “Since the western region, mostly plateaus and wasteland, has a low percentage of cultivatable land and is a long distance from the sea […] its ability to sustain population is far lower than that of the central and eastern regions. […] Environmental challenges like soil erosion and desertification are much worse than in the central eastern regions. […] In terms of the ratio of population sustainability to population pressure, the western region, though sparsely populated, has a far more serious problem of being over-capacity. Thus the population concentration in the west should, instead of increasing, decrease relative to that of the east. So people in the western region need to move out, but only the vast Pacific Ocean is available for them in the east. Where can they resettle to, then? ”

The only answer lies in the northeast of China. If China could truly recover its ceded territory through peaceful negotiations in accordance with international law, the twenty-first century could hold great promise for China. The one-million-plus square kilometers of land lost under the Treaty of Aigun and the Treaty of Beijing amount to the total size of the three provinces that presently make up northeastern China—no small sum. And moreover, these lands—located to the south of outer Xing’an Mountains, north of the Heilongjiang River, and east of the Ussuri River—are forested and fertile lands bequeathed no less from antiquity. They represent the final hope for China’s growth.

In the absence of adequate land—the most basic conditions for survival—the fate of China’s billion-plus population becomes a very real, and major, cause for concern. Yet Jiang Zemin surrendered, without any scruples, to Russia vast tracts of fertile land—land critical to China’s economy, if not future. A treaty equally treacherous in China’s past is hard to find.

7. Lands Jiang Gave Away to Other Nations

With respect to China’s settlements of territorial disputes with Vietnam, India, and other countries of the former Soviet Union, Beijing’s official media has never dared to report the contents of those treaties. Talks that dealt away China’s territorial interests have been kept from the people.

The treaties Jiang signed with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakstan—the China-Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan Agreement on Boundary Demarcations and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Kazakstan Agreement on Boundary Demarcations—virtually ceded all disputed lands. For instance, the treaty Jiang signed with Rakhmovov, the president of Tajikistan, gave up 27,000 square kilometers of disputed land near the Pamir region and retained only one thousand square kilometers. This became known around the world only after a news agency in Tajik proudly reported it.

During his visit to the Philippines, Jiang offered to give up sovereignty claims over the Spratly Islands and agreed to a joint development of the islands.

At the end of November 1996, Jiang visited India and signed the “Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field of the Controlled Zone in Sino-Indian Boundary Areas,” setting a framework for border demarcations based on the current control line. Meaning, China now recognizes the McMahon Line and has let go of 90,000 square kilometers of fertile land south of the Himalayas.

Jiang approved the “Sino-Vietnam Land Border Treaty” on December 30, 1999, which gave Vietnam Laoshan of Yunnan province and Fakashan of Guangxi province—land that hundreds of Chinese soldiers had defended with their lives during the Sino-Vietnamese Border War of 1979. Now the patriotic souls of the dead soldiers from Libobo will be buried in Vietnam.

The matter of the Senkaku Islands merits more detailed discussion.

The ownership of the Senkaku Islands is rather subtle. Viewed in light of history, the Senkaku Islands naturally belong to China. But both Taiwan and the mainland claim sovereignty over them. Several major events have occurred around the Senkaku Islands. One is the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) which the Qing government signed after its defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895, permanently ceding Taiwan and its adjacent islands to Japan, including the Senkaku Islands. Japan has thus always cited the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) as the legal basis for its claim over the islands. Another event happened in 1945, when the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) was abrogated after Japan’s defeat in the Second World War and thus Japan lost its “legitimacy” with regard to the occupation of the Senkaku Islands. However, instead of returning the Senkaku Islands to China when it turned over Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands, Japan placed the Senkaku Islands under the administration of Okinawa county, hence sowing the seeds for today’s Sino-Japanese sovereignty disputes.

Though only a group of deserted islets with a total area of a little over six square kilometers, the Senkaku Islands include 740,000 square kilometers of “Exclusive Economic Zones” in accordance with the United Nations Law of the Sea. The UN discovered in its exploration in 1967 some 80 billion barrels worth of oil deposits underneath the area, valued at USD$4 trillion—or four times China’s GDP—if calculated by the current international oil price of $50 a barrel.

On a matter of such high stakes, Jiang should have labored to bring the island back into China’s fold; or at least, that is, if he really took national interests seriously. China could rightfully and legitimately recover its sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands either on account of its “occupation” as recognized in history or based on international agreements such as the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation, or the Joint Statement between China and Japan. Jiang made not even a try at it, however, and—sporting an attitude of “It’s better to give it to a friendly neighbor than to one’s own enemy at home”—often mocked and blocked efforts by Taiwan to regain rights over the isles.

Jiang could not totally shy away from the issue of the Senkaku Islands, for as part of Taiwan, the islands and Taiwan share a common fate. Moreover, Taiwanese authorities have taken a much stronger stance than the CCP on the matter. The deputy minister of Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, Chen Zhaomin, stated in the legislature in early 2003 that the Senkaku Islands “are Taiwan’s territory” and that Taiwan’s military will defend territorial integrity even if it means war.

Jiang thus had to mention the Senkaku Islands when he claimed sovereignty over Taiwan, though he did so with a big difference in tone toward the two. Jiang has never renounced the use of force against Taiwan. But when Japan sent police and helicopters to the Senkaku Islands to round up Chinese—a move that amounted to making arrests on Chinese soil—Jiang only announced to the public through his spokesperson that “as for differences between China and Japan on this issue, we have always been in favor of seeking a settlement through peaceful negotiations”.

In 2003 activists defending the Senkaku Islands applied for a fifty-person protest in front of the Japanese embassy in Beijing, wishing to mark the historic date of September 18. The police, with orders from Jiang, rejected the application on grounds that it would “disrupt social order.”

So it was that Jiang surrendered all disputed territories in the form of equal treaties and never, in doing so, sought the prior approval of the People’s Congress. Even less did he invite public opinion or a referendum of some sort. Ironic is that while Jiang was trumpeting “patriotism” and “nationalism” on the home-front and warning against supposed “anti-China forces,” perhaps the biggest “anti-China” force was none other than Jiang himself.

8. Jiang Offers to Cede China’s Territory

When near the end of 1999 Jiang signed the ignoble treaty ceding so much land, he was the top leader of China’s Communist Party, government, and military. He alone could decide whether to sign the treaty. Even supposing the signing of the treaty had been suggested by politicians or authorized by the People’s Congress, Jiang still could have refused to sign it. The following two examples should illustrate the point.

Towards the end of the Second World War, KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek sent Chiang Ching-kuo and Song Ziwen to Moscow for negotiations with Stalin. Chiang hoped the Soviet Union could be persuaded to send troops to fight the invading Japanese soldiers. When it looked like there were no alternatives, Chiang sent a telegraph instructing Song to sign an agreement with the soviets. Upon reading the telegraph, a disgruntled Song promptly resigned from his post as foreign minister. The agreement Song was asked to sign required merely a referendum in Mongolia—not its cession—and yet still Song felt that signing the document would make him a criminal spurned his nation. (As history would have it, eventually a figure named Wang Shijie, Song’s successor, signed the agreement.)

The other comparable story is what happened to Yang Ru, the Qing Dynasty’s minister in Russia. On August 15, 1900, the Eight-Power Alliance conquered Beijing. On August 19 Russians, who had long coveted the northeast of China, believed that “It is absolutely necessary to include into our territory the right sides of the Erguna River and the Amur River and a portion of Manchuria on the left side of the Ussuri River.” On September 11 one hundred and fifty thousand Russian soldiers crossed over the Sino-Russian borders, drowned thousands of Chinese border residents by driving them into the Heilongjiang River, and swiftly took the whole northeastern part of China. The city of Shenyang fell on October 1 and Zeng Qi, the general at Shengjing, was forced to sign the Provisional Charter on Land. The agreement demanded that troops deployed at Shenyang be demobilized, that Yingkou be placed temporarily under Russian administration, and that batteries and arsenals be demolished, among other requirements.

On January 4, 1901, the royal court of the Qing Dynasty named Yang Ru the plenipotentiary and ordered him to “talk with the Russians in St. Petersburg on the return of the three northeastern provinces of China.” Yang fought hard for state sovereignty during the talks. On March 25 the Russians held Yang under house arrest in the building of the Russian Foreign Ministry and used a stick and carrot approach with him. They threatened that if China didn’t accept the terms set forth by Russia they would declare Manchuria a province of Russia. Meanwhile they tempted Yang with a promise: once Yang signed the agreement on Russia’s terms, Russia would immediately give him land and a house in St. Petersburg—a place to enjoy the rest of his life. Yang rejected the Russians’ offers with indignation. Frustrated, the Russians hurled Yang from the building, leaving him in a pool of his own blood. On March 28 enraged Chinese held massive rallies against Russia, and the royal court received numerous petitions from throughout the country opposing any change of sovereignty for the three northeastern provinces. Under the circumstances, fearing other powers might seize the opportunity to threaten Russia’s vested interests in China, Russia reluctantly declared that it would “temporarily shelve the treaty.” Yang Ru proved to be one of the few officials in a rather disgraced period of Qing history who would die out of loyalty.

Unlike the times when China signed inequitable treaties in the past, the period of signings under Jiang Zemin was not marked by wars with Russia, Tajikistan, India, or whoever. Jiang didn’t sign the treaties under any form of coercion. And moreover it was China, not the foreign parties, that was historically in the right. Reclaiming an inherent part of China’s territory should have been for Jiang an unavoidable duty, especially when there were no risks involved. Thus, given the positions Jiang held at the time of leader of China’s Communist Party, government, and military, it can be said with ironclad certainty that Jiang ceded China’s territory of his own accord.

Then how did Jiang respond to the wave of accusations of treachery that he met with from overseas Chinese? Did he find scapegoats? He didn’t. Rather, as mentioned above, Jiang completely covered up the events related to the territorial treaties. Witness its absence from his biography. Nothing bespeaks more clearly of Jiang’s guilty conscience.

9. Covering up a Treacherous Past via Treason

The process Jiang went through in signing the treacherous treaties is open to question. The border survey on the east started in 1991, when the Soviet Communist Party had just fallen and Russia’s economy had slid into recession. China, on the other hand, had started gaining momentum in terms of economic growth following Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour, and relations with western nations had begun to thaw after a few years of post-Tiananmen Massacre freeze. In the context of the existing international climate in which Russia needed help from China, there was no need, still less reason, for China to recognize all of the unfair past treaties of which it was a signatory. Yet that is exactly what Jiang did.

Many found it hard to understand why Jiang behaved as he did. Chapter Two discussed how during a raid in northeastern China in 1945 the Soviet red army got hold of all personal dossiers of the special agents under Kenji Doihara, a general in the invading Japanese army who oversaw spying. And among them, of course, were included the documents and photo files of young cadres who had trained where Jiang had. Later, when Jiang studied in the Soviet Union, the Soviet intelligence departments discovered in the files Jiang’s treasonous past and recruited him as a Soviet spy for their Far-East Bureau.

In May of 1991 Jiang went on a visit to the former Soviet Union in his capacity as the CCP’s General Secretary. During the tour of the Ligachev auto plant, the KGB arranged for Jiang to bump into the beautiful former soviet spy, Klava, to whom Jiang had been so attracted. The encounter was a powerful reminder for Jiang that were his identity as a KGB spy to be leaked, he would fall from power immediately and be condemned to death. Fully aware of the ruinous consequences, Jiang was willing to strike any deal with the Russians, no matter the stakes.

Once Jiang signed the Protocol ceding land and what was done couldn’t be undone, the CCP in turn feared the details of the treaty being leaked. The truth would be equally ruinous for the CCP regime. This is why the CCP would not (and has not) investigate Jiang further after it uncovered the truth. Jiang knew that if he were to make a mistake, that mistake would have to be so serious that if the CCP tried to redress it later on it would spell the CCP’s demise. Only this way would he not be held accountable.

In 2005 Cheng Xiang, a senior journalist from Hong Kong who had once served as Wenhui Daily’s deputy editor-in-chief (and later resigned from that post after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989), was detained in China. According to international media, Cheng was arrested because he had written several articles under the penname of Zhong Guoren in a column for Mingpao News. The articles unveiled details of the Sino-Russian border agreement and called it—the treachery of the signing—the most ludicrous farce of the twenty-first century. The Hong Kong press confirmed that Zhong was indeed the penname Cheng Xiang used in the column in the Mingpao News. Zhong listed in one of his articles three reasons why the Chinese government didn’t dare to let the public know about or explain the treaty it had signed with Russia. First, he said, the CCP handled the matter of the borders worse than had the KMT government—an authority the CCP had brought down and ridiculed as “treasonous.” Secondly, Jiang handled the matter worse than had any previous CCP leaders. Thirdly, the treaty, which officially gave away large chunks of Chinese territory, was never brought to the public’s attention at any stage of its negotiations, including even its final signing.

Irritated by people who sought to reveal Jiang’s dealings, the CCP blacklisted the words “Sino-Russian border” as a forbidden phrase on the forums of many official websites. In fact, authorities closed the Mapfan Forum on the Website of China Maps for the reason that people were talking about the sixty-four villages east of the Heilongjiang River and other lands Jiang had yielded.

10. Bringing Jiang to Trial—A Hope for Reclaiming the Land

With the above said, there does remain one possible hope for recovering the territories ceded by Jiang Zemin. And that is—according to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which the United Nation adopted in May of 1969—to bring Jiang to public trial.

Articles 49, 50, 51, and 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties stipulate that treaties concluded with “fraud,” “bribery,” and “threat of force” are invalid.

Jiang traded away China’s territories so that Russia would not reveal his identity as a KGB spy and he could thus stay in power as General Secretary of the Communist Party. Under the circumstances, whatever treaties Jiang approved or signed would thus be invalid based on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. If Jiang were brought to trial by the Chinese nation for the land treaties he handled, the treaties he had signed would not count.

It is thus in China’s interest to thoroughly probe Jiang’s motives for signing the treaties and the whole process behind them; to bring to the public the treason he has committed; and to hold Jiang legally accountable. Beyond this there might be little chance for China to recover its northern territories.

11. Publicizing Heixiazi Island to Cover up Treason

The fact that Jiang quietly signed the Protocol on December 9, 1999, remained a secret even to China’s Minister of Defense, Chi Haotian. Chi later asked about it only after hearing rumors that a treaty as took place was concluded with Russia. The only reply he was given, however, was the superficial, state-assembled People’s Daily article of December 12 1999.

In October of 2002, just before a trip by Jiang to the United States, the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars in the United States (IFCSS) held a press conference at the National Press Club of Washington, D.C., demanding that Jiang tell the public about the treaty and stating that the Chinese people were entitled to know what territories belonged to China. Newspapers and websites around the world reported on the event and its call.

A few days later, on October 14 and 15, 2002, the CCP responded in a most strange way. The first page of the photo news section of the People’s Daily website—a mouthpiece for Jiang and the state—a section of the paper meant to capture major international and domestic news, unexpectedly ran a dozen or so photos, two days in a row, with titles reading things like, “Vast frontiers with mysterious borders—images of Sino-Russian-Mongolian Borders” and “The long road along the Sino-Russian-Mongolian Borders and the new developments at various points of entry.” The photos didn’t have any explanatory text or articles accompanying them. Perhaps there was little the paper dared say about the matter.

Many critics had long condemned Jiang for keeping people in the dark as to negotiations on the Sino-Russian border (it involved national interests, after all), by barring them from asking or talking about it.

Things changed all of a sudden after October 17, 2004, when the CCP began to report publicly about matters related to the Sino-Russian border. The media in Beijing said that Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his Russian counterpart, Lavrov, had signed in Beijing the Supplementary Agreement on the Eastern Section of the Boundary between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation, which, together with the previously signed Agreement on the Eastern Section of the Boundary between the People’s Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Agreement on the Western Section of the Boundary between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation, “completely settled the issue”—as media put it—of the more than 4,300-kilometer-long Sino-Russian border.

The reports were puzzling. The supplementary agreement was now being publicized, and yet there was no word about the original agreements that were being supplemented. More intriguing still, how far back did the two “previously signed” agreements on the eastern and western sections of the boundary between China and the Soviet Union date? And since, as of this date, no details of the four agreements have been revealed to the public, just exactly how thoroughly has the border issue been “resolved”? The key to that mystery, of course, lies in Jiang’s hands.

The CCP gingerly guarded against any mention of the earlier agreement on the eastern boundary, though it covers 98 percent of Sino-Russian eastern border and with it Jiang yielded over 1 million square kilometers of Chinese territory. Then in 2005 the CCP began to give much publicity to the supplementary agreement, which covers only 2 percent of the border. It even tried to claim that the new agreement recovered “half of Heixiazi Island.” The coverage was simply a deceptive spin by the CCP.

On May 31, 2005, Sheng Shiliang, a fellow at the Research Center on Development of the State Council, was invited by the state-run Xinhua news company to chat online. Sheng had come up with an idea, and said, “It’s really a defining event to have recovered more than 100 square kilometers of our formerly lost land. In the old days China was always losing territory and never once reclaimed even a small piece by legal means. This was the first time.”

But what kind of logic is that? It’s analogous to someone robbing you of 10 thousand dollars, where you have every right to recover it in full. Then one day the mugger returns one dollar to you, and you say, “Great! I don’t care for the remaining 9999 dollars anymore. The return of this one dollar has great historic meaning!” It’s hard to imagine reasoning more feeble than that.

The fact that Hexiazi Island came to be occupied by the Stalin-led Russian Army in 1929 only as a consequence the Zhongdonglu Incident is itself—ironically—ample proof that the CCP has long-been willing to submissively follow Russia and sell out the nation of China.

On May 27, 1929, Russia’s main consulate in Harbin gathered all important Party officials of the far-east and held an International Communist Conference to discuss the business of invading China. Their gathering was discovered by the Chinese government, which arrested over thirty-nine or more Russian and Chinese Communist Party members, confiscated tens of thousands of documents on how to destroy order in Chinese society and how to divide China.

In July of 1929, local governments in the northeast, acting according to the KMT-led Government of the Republic of China (ROC), started to gradually take over the sovereignty of land within the Chinese border. According to a public-record Soviet government announcement published in 1919 and 1920, “All the treaties concluded with China by the successive Russian governments in the past shall be invalidated; all the lands taken from China and all of Russia’s concessions within China shall be forsaken; and everything savagely taken from China by the czarist government and Russian capitalist class shall be returned to China permanently and unconditionally.” Local government announced their intention to take over the Zhongdong railroad management power, which was within China’s borders. In August of 1929 the Russian government not only didn’t honor its previous declaration, but also announced the breaking of diplomatic relations with China. They raised a ten thousand man army in anticipation of a large-scale invasion. The Government of the Republic of China prepared to defend itself, ordering Zhang Xueliang to defend China’s border and sending soldiers to both the east and west to obstruct and resist the invasion. This is what historians called the “Zhongdonglu Incident.”

In the meantime, on September 26, 1929, Stalin sent instructions to the CCP: “Only those who arm themselves to defend Russia without any reservation, who defend Russia loyally, firmly, and truly are the true revolutionaries and internationalists.” On October 26, 1929, the Communist International sent frequent telegrams indicating in certain terms, “To protect Russia, start armed riots all throughout the country.”

In November of 1929 Li Lishan announced at the Chinese Communist “Second Conference,” as it was called, that the “Central Government’s call to ‘Protect Russia with arms’ means armed riots all over the country.” At the time, the secretary of China’s Communist, Liu Shaoqi, in Manzhou province, stated: “ ‘The Zhongdonglu Incident’ is the Imperialist armed invasion of Russia.” On December 8, 1929, the CCP published Announcement No. 60, stating, “To carry out the protection of Communist Russia, the practical strategy is to start armed riots all throughout the country.”

Thus the Chinese Communists started armed riots throughout China’s major provinces in the south, holding up the KMT government’s army and making it hard for ROC troops to advance north and resist the Russian invasion. The Chinese Communists thus actively cooperated with the Russian army in the north. Hexiazi Island was in this fashion lost and occupied by Russia.

The whole while that Russia was invading China and occupying Hexiazi Island, the CCP was willing to be Russia’s servile follower. It was done solely in the interests of the CCP and at the cost of the interests of China the nation as a whole. To think that now the CCP makes recovering a portion of Hexiazi Island out to be a “huge achievement.” [6]

Worse still, according to a reporter from Nanfang Daily who visited the island, the western part of the isle—the part designated as Chinese territory—is fully undeveloped, being overgrown with thick grass and brush on soggy soil. Russia’s Communist Youth League (Pravda) had reported, however, that the land it was returning to China was marked by nothing but dry grass and fresh fish. Russia had planned to divide Heixiazi Island into four zones: an ecological zone, a farming zone, a sporting and recreation zone, and a residential zone. The part returned to China was what Russia had planned as an ecological zone—a zone which was least habitable. The remarks of Li Chuanxun, director of the Institute on Russian Studies at Heilongjiang University, characterized the CCP’s spin-doctoring of the incident: “Well,” Li said, “the development of Heixiazi Island still needs time and sufficient feasibility studies.”

And what did Russia get in the deal? More than they deserved, it would seem. “These islets didn’t really belong to Russia,” says historian Alexander-Vishnevskiy. Pulikovskiy—the Russian president’s plenipotentiary for its far-east federated areas—even stated that, based on the bilateral agreement, all facilities that Chabarovsk residents had built and used on the island would remain within Russian territory.

According to a Russian media report, Heixiazi Island, with an area of more than three hundred square kilometers, is rich in natural resources, and 70 percent of its land could be used for agriculture, grass farming, or grazing. Fur-bearing animals and aquatic birds were said to be found on the island. The fish in the Heilongjiang River and its tributaries, as with the lakes and streams on the isle, were far more bountiful than those in all of the Volga River region. The land, which has around 15,000 vegetable and fruit gardens and entertains tens of thousands of tourists each year, produces more than 4,000 tons of potatoes annually and raises 1,500 cattle in the summer with an annual milk output of 1,700 tons. The island features ten farms, the reports continued, as well as tourist resorts for urban industries and two villages nestled on the island. Of course, all of these desirable traits were true, but only for one half of the island: the half that Russia got from the deal.

The Russians themselves had acknowledged that Heixiazi Island should be returned to China. But what did China get under Jiang but a wasteland; the precious part was forever signed off to Russia. Again the CCP paints itself as a hero were what really was at work was bumbling ineptitude and treachery.

*****

Like Qin Gui, a notorious traitor in China’s Southern Song Dynasty, Jiang Zemin sold out his own nation for personal glory. He sacrificed China’s national interests to protect himself, fearing his record as a Russian spy would leak and his political power be at risk. Jiang employed the most deplorable strategy possible to achieve his goals. The bottom line was critical in the negotiations between the CCP and Russia. Jiang acted with ulterior motives behind the smokescreen of Deng Xiaoping’s line and secretly tried to gain his way, blocking news and burying the truth as necessary along the way. Even high-ranking officials of the CCP were thus kept in the dark. But word traveled fast. When people in China’s top circles of power, especially military generals such as Chi Haotian, learned part of the truth, Jiang knew he faced trouble. His response, predictably, was to tie his own culpability to the CCP’s survival and thus prevent anyone from speaking out. So, faced with treasonous acts that could well have triggered nationwide protests, the CCP was fearful. But staying in power was the Party’s top concern. Thus in June of 2005, when China gained a small compromise from Russia on Heixiazi Island (and yielded the majority—notably the desirable part—of the Island to Russia), China’s propaganda machine acted on Jiang’s orders to exaggerate the trivial achievement. The island, which accounted for a mere 1/10,000 of the land Jiang lost to Russia, was in the CCP’s media made out to be a monumental, historic achievement. The CCP lauded the “achievement” with publicity at every level, concealing what was in reality a terribly treacherous act. Jiang and the CCP—two birds of a feather—found common ground in the affair, both having colluded in shady deals.



[1] Note that since the fall of the Soviet Union, the contours of Russia are different from those of czarist Russia, with the former northwestern parts of China now in Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan, rather than the present Russia.

[2] For the full text, see Declaration to the Chinese Government by the Government of the Soviet Socialist Republics of Russian Federation.

[3] Robert Lawrence Kuhn, The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin (New York: Crown, 2004), 231.

[4] Ibid., 231.

[5] From the article, “The New Treaty on the Sino-Russian Border—A Dead-End Deal.”

[6] It should be noted for purposes of clarity that Hexiazi Island is in fact composed of several islets. The island is referred to in Russian as Greater Ussurisky Island.

(Copyright © 2005 The Epoch Times)

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