Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin – Chapter 14
Jiang Zemin’s days are numbered. It is only a question of when, not if, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party will be arrested. Jiang officially ran the Chinese regime for more than a decade, and for another decade he was the puppet master behind the scenes who often controlled events. During those decades Jiang did incalculable damage to China. At this moment when Jiang’s era is about to end, Epoch Times here republishes in serial form “Anything for Power: The Real Story of Jiang Zemin,” first published in English in 2011. The reader can come to understand better the career of this pivotal figure in today’s China.
Chapter 14: The Lowlife Who Betrayed His Own Nation (End of 1999)
Vladivostok, Chabarovsk, Nerchinsk, Sakhalin Obl, the outer Xing’an Mountains, Sakhalin Island, the 64 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.
Dec. 9 and 10, 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 Dec. 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 64 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 64 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 33 percent of all land, while seriously-eroded land accounts for roughly 38 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 was, in many ways, the hope for China’s future development. In this light Jiang has does nothing short of sever 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 Sept. 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 17 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 1856 (the sixth year of the Xianfeng Period). In May 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 1860 (the 10th 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 Nov. 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.
Czarist Russia started coveting the western parts of China in the early 19th 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 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 Northwestern Boundary on Oct. 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. 
Other Inequitable Treaties
Czarist Russia forced the Qing government to sign the Sino-Russian Treaty of Yili in the 10th year of Emperor Tongzhi’s reign (1861–1875), and later between the eighth to the 11th 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 64 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 64 villages east of the Heilongjiang River were from then on occupied by czarist Russia.
The chief culprit of the bloody massacre in the 64 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 numerous Chinese citizens. And it was he who personally ceded the 64 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 Guizhou Province. 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 17 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 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 Sept. 29, 1979, that the areas contested by Russia and China in 20 districts of the Xinjiang region were between 11,600 and 29,696 square miles in size. On Jan. 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.