The Common Program of the People's Republic of China 1949-1954

Article 59 of the Common Program

This article of the Common Program states that protection of foreigners is the basic principle of the policy of the new regime, it is an iteration of article 8 of the Proclamation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army of April 25, 1949. "Protect the lives and property of foreign nationals. It is hoped that all foreign nationals will follow their usual pursuits and observe order. All foreign nationals must abide by the orders and decrees of the People's Liberation Army and the People's Government and must not engage in espionage, act against the cause of China's national independence and the people's liberation, or harbour Chinese war criminals, counter-revolutionaries or other lawbreakers. Otherwise, they shall be dealt with according to law by the People's Liberation Army and the People's Government." The decision on diplomatic relations of January 19, 1949, describes the restrictions on activities of foreigners in China.

Fig. 59.1 Foreign population Shanghai 1949-1954
Source: Howlett (2012). Page 137

Fig. 59.2 Foreign population in Shanghai by nationality 1954
Source: Howlett (2012). Page 139

In July 1949, about 120 thousand foreigners lived in China, most of them living in Shanghai (65.000, in 1942 151.000) and in the Northeast (54.000). April, 1954 the SU government decided to recall all Soviet immigrants in China. In 1954, 5842 SU immigrants were repatriated to help the SU economy. In November 1950 merely a total of 11.939 foreigners stayed in Shanghai alone, belonging to around forty different nationalities. The largest group being 1.700 British residents.
During the spring of 1949, the CCP is afraid of an intervention of the US in the civil war. "On 25 April Zhou Enlai particularly instructed Deng Xiaoping that the lives and property of the Americans and the British "shall be by all means protected; we should see to it that these foreigners will not be offended or humiliated." In practice, foreigners are voluntarily persuaded or forced to leave the country. Garver (2016) gives some examples: "as permits, taxes, wage increases, utility costs, visas, etc., stipulated by new China’s legally constituted authorities that persuaded foreigners to give up and leave China. A wide array of burdens was increasingly piled on foreigners. For example, foreigners were required to obtain a residence permit from the local police office. These were for stipulated periods of time, typically three, six, or twelve months...Police often made “house calls” on foreign residents, searching individuals and their personal belongings and asking about activities and life histories. Chinese became the mandatory language for all interactions with officialdom, including written communications." Living in the mainland China became a burden for foreigners, high taxes and fees were demanded. Foreigners were confronted with police harassment, expropriation of homes and property, and imprisonment of foreign businessmen, consular staff, teachers, and missionaries, (see Article 5) and travel restrictions. Some were accused of being a spy (In 1950, a group of 6 foreigners and one Chinese person are arrested for collecting of information for the USA to attack the parade on Tian Anmen square on October 1, 1950) or had abused labor laws.
Western diplomats are no longer welcome, they are considered as symbols of the old-style imperialist diplomacy and representatives of the unequal treaties. "The eradication - without expulsion - of the old-style diplomatic and consular presence from China was basically accomplished by simply refusing to acknowledge the legal status of foreign government representatives still accredited to the Nationalists,… the new authorities 'politely but firmly informed' heads of mission that they would be given no diplomatic privileges and would be regarded as ordinary foreign nationals.2" This meant that all diplomatic and consular officials lost their customary privileges and immunities and they were treated as ‘common’ foreigners. They were denied any contact with the Chinese authorities as diplomats and with their home country. They also lost their exemption from local jurisdiction. In 1950, a new group of diplomatic officials arrived. The main group are representatives of the Eastern Bloc, the second group are negotiating representatives of the UK, Norway, and the Netherlands. The third group are representatives of governments which have not recognized the People's Republic of China and they are treated as ordinary foreign nationals. In the Northeast, Russian immigrants who came to China after the Civil War in Russia, still believed they had special privileges. "The CCP, however, had come to believe that the only good foreigners were those either being driven out or under control. In due time, such a fate befell on the Russians in the Northeast. 18"

Timeline restrictions on migration 1949-1954 Departing from the country posed numerous hazards for foreigners. It involved public announcements in newspapers, former employees lodging financial claims such as severance pay. Foreigners had to obtain "shop guarantees" from two Chinese businesspersons before exiting the country, meant to address any ongoing liabilities. They underwent investigations to determine if they had committed any crimes in China before departure, making it challenging for many to bring anything beyond their most essential possessions.
Secret investigation agents keep an eye on foreigners in places frequently visited and their communities. The Chinese also maintain the belief that foreigners residing in China should never be regarded as having severed ties with their home country. Many of the espionage accusations against foreign nationals may stem from this deeply rooted Chinese suspicion toward unfamiliar individuals within their community.
In 1949 most foreign firms moved their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong. In particular, large numbers of emigrants settled in North Point, naming the new area in Hong Kong Eastern District as “Little Shanghai.” In 1954, about 600 European and White Russians lived in Shanghai. They were never assigned jobs. Following the treaty of February 1950 only Chinese and SU citizens are allowed to live in the Northeast and Xinjiang. See Additional agreement.

In 1949, there are about 700.000 Koreans living in the Northeast of China, most of them in Yanbian. In the following years, 40.000 soldiers, cadres, and physicians left for Korea. (see Article 54) As the tide changed in the Korea War, many migrants came back to People's Republic of China. In 1950, the number of refugees already surpassed 10.000 people. In 1953, the Northeast Bureau proposed "...those who lived and worked in northeast China prior to October 1949 should be regarded as a minority nationality of China; [however], they should also be allowed to remain as Korean nationals if they prefer. Those who arrived after the Korean War should be treated as Korean nationals.30" In July 1953, China and North Korea signed "Regulations on Chinese and Korean Border Transit.” Residents wishing to cross the border could use travel documents issued by county or municipal public security bureaus. The Public Security Department of Northeast China stipulated that all citizens 18 years old or over could apply for travel documents to go to North Korea to visit relatives and friends, attend schools, see doctors, and attend weddings or funerals."

SU specialists, who arrived after 1949, received the best accommodations and high salaries. Between 1949-1960, 16.000 SU and East European advisors worked on the mainland. "The Soviet advisers had their own theater, dance hall, library, swimming pool, tennis courts, gym, shops, hairdresser, photographic studio, post office, medical clinic, bar, cafe, six restaurants as well as a special school for their children. Each two advisers had a limousine at their disposal. They were extremely well paid, many earning enough in a two year stay to buy a car, normally beyond the means of most Soviet citizens. They also had access to luxurious foods not available to Chinese citizens.66 The Russians seldom mixed with the other foreigners in China at this time." Contact with the Chinese rarely went beyond a small circle of Chinese co-workers, interpreters, and attendants. The Chinese also shouldered financial responsibilities for this aspect of the exchange. They covered the train fare for the specialists and their families traveling to and from China, various expenses incurred in China, the monthly salary for the one-month vacation granted to experts who stayed in China for more than one year, and a monthly payment of 1,500–3,000 rubles to the Soviet government, depending on the qualifications of the specialist. The agreement reached in April 1950 with the Ministry of Mechanical Engineering stipulated that the Chinese would provide the Soviets with paid vacations, satisfactory working conditions at job sites, "heated apartments with furniture," qualified translators, healthcare, and exemptions from Chinese taxes. Additionally, at work sites, the Chinese were responsible for covering transportation costs, any required Chinese labor, and the expenses associated with transporting equipment within China. If the project's duration was extended, the Chinese were also responsible for covering the additional costs incurred due to the extension. The Chinese were also confronted with incapable technicians, with Russians who drank too much and they often behaved condescendingly towards the Chinese. Russian sailors had the reputation of being rude and assaulting Chinese citizens. Sometimes there were cases of rape and murder. "A January 1951 investigation into 466 air force advisers and specialists in China led to the immediate return of eighty-two of them to the Soviet Union, for, among other things, drunkenness, “immoral behavior,” and inappropriate liaisons with foreigners. Aeroflot workers were particularly incompetent in China…" All this reminded the Chinese of the old colonial period before 1949. One way to solve the problem was sending the specialists with their families to China, instead of coming alone. One aspect of the SU exchange should be mentioned, SU experts documented technological equipment left behind by western companies, for example powerful water-cooling electric rectifiers. They were interested in Western documents, technical studies and magazines which were not available in the SU. "…As the Chinese began to notice the intense Soviet interest in Western technology and began to wonder about the comparative level of Soviet technological development …"Old Chinese technical workers" in particular were likely to question the authority of the Soviet experts.35"
So called ‘friends of the People's Republic of China’ are allowed to stay. They work as translators, language teachers, radio broadcasters, doctors and technicians. Most of them were known and trusted already before 1949 or they were sent by communist parties of their home country. They came from Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaya, Burma, Indonesia, Singapore, and Japan. In handling Western residents, the new Chinese government adopted a strategy resembling 'privileged isolation', aimed at segregating and shielding them from the harsh realities of daily life that contradicted the promoted ideals of 'new China'. These privileges encompassed access to exclusive stores offering higher-quality products that were often unavailable in regular shops. Government-employed Westerners received higher salaries compared to their Chinese counterparts, along with superior accommodation, dining, and other amenities.
In the Northeast, the Japanese engineers, pilots, and anybody with technical or other professional skills were allowed to stay to aid in the economic development of the new nation. "There was a tension between the Chinese Communist Party’s desire to wipe the slate clean and build a modern, industrial utopia, and the realization that it could not do so without first drawing on Japanese technology and expertise." In October 1948, one year before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the CCP created a Committee for the Management of Japanese in Northeast China. The embargo on China in December 1950 increased the use of Japanese technicians because they had the knowhow to repair existing machinery and equipment. "Beginning in 1950, the Committee for the Management of Japanese in Northeast China organized propaganda and education efforts to condemn the ‘imperialistic’ United States and Japanese governments, but portrayed the Japanese people as common victims in this struggle."
The additional agreement of February 14, 1950, stipulated that no foreigners should be allowed to stay in Xinjiang and Northeast China. "…the Chinese side delayed implementation of the additional agreement by taking the first steps only after three years and also only with respect to Manchuria. In February 1953, negotiations with Japan began for the repatriation of the approximately 30,000 Japanese living in Manchuria." Starting from late 1951, the demand for Japanese skilled labor decreased as Soviet technicians started arriving. When the first 'Five Year Plan' was introduced in 1953, many Japanese technicians in the Dalian area, including those from the former Central Research Laboratories (CRL), were relocated to different parts of China. The CRL personnel were reassigned to projects in eight different locations throughout the country. Between 1953 and 1955, these technicians and their families were voluntarily repatriated from these locations. The Peace treaty between Japan and Taiwan signed in April 1952, is as well a reason for starting repatriation. The CCP has to look for ‘unofficial ties’ with Japan. The return can be considered as an act of goodwill. In February 1953, negotiations started between China and Japan about the repatriation of 30 000 Japanese. "In that month (November 1952), the Chinese central government released a ‘Resolution Dealing with Overseas Japanese in China’ (...). The Resolution decreed that ‘apart from a few war criminals, anti-revolutionary forces, and those who had important top-secret information about China’, all Japanese who wished to go home would be allowed to do so 110."

January 1950, the Czechoslovak and Polish governments submit a request for exchanging students. Later Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and other East European countries proposed to exchange students. These requests were granted. The students are to learn the Chinese language, politics, history, and culture. Most of the foreign students spoke either English or Russian. In 1952, the number of foreign students has increased from 33 students to 77.

Tourist attractions

Tourists were often treated as state guests, and enjoyed audiences with Mao Zedong or Zhou Enlai. The purpose of this hospitality is that travelers in their homeland will give a positive image of the People's Republic of China. Tourist numbers are low, they are mostly part of a delegation and are not free to roam the country. A policy of “people’s diplomacy” is introduced. "Theoretically, even ordinary Chinese citizens will have been educated on how to interact with foreigners, but in most cases, rather than direct instruction, it is common sense and an awareness of the hyperpolitical status of foreigners in China that guide most people on how to treat them." Lovell (2014) gives an example of how tourists are manipulated "Robert Loh (1924-), a Shanghai factory manager, gave a view from inside the system. His role was to play the part of a gently reformed capitalist to foreign visitors to Shanghai in the 1950s. He was to reassure foreigners that the Communists’ humanity and moderation had won over even bourgeois industrialists to Chinese socialism." Without a doubt, leaders like Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, and Mao Zedong considered hosting foreign visitors as a top-secret political endeavor. In 1950, while Communist forces were still suppressing opposition in the south and the country faced hyperinflation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took charge of all interactions between Chinese institutions and foreign visitors. A directive stated, "Henceforth, any institution receiving foreign guests must first inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is mandatory." A report from 1954 emphasized that hosting foreign guests was a highly significant political task crucial for improving the international situation. It noted, If we don't invite them, they will continue to criticize us. But if we do, they will find it difficult to do so.
Modern tourism in China sprang up in the early 1950s. China Travel Service (CTS) was established in 1949, China International Travel Service (CITS) in 1954, with 14 branches in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and other major cities. Between 1954 and 1978, The CITS hosted only 125.000 foreigners. "Tours focused on the material achievements of communism such as factories, communes and revolutionary peasant, and worker communities. Heritage was not promoted."

Zhang (1992). Page 50 [↩] [Cite]
Garver (2016). Page 46 [↩] [Cite]
During his secret mission (January, February 1949), Mikoyan got the instructions of Stalin to find out if there were any Americans or Englishmen near the Chinese leaders. Mikoyan found out there were 2 Americans. He conveyed this information to Moscow and received an instruction from Stalin to report to Mao Zedong about this and advise to arrest the Americans as obvious spies. 04-02-1949 Cable, Joseph Stalin to Anastas Mikoyan about American spies. The Americans were not arrested before Mikyan's departure. But then they thought that Stalin would get offended, and arrested them. And only after Stalin’s death we informed the Chinese that we don’t have any information and any rationale for keeping them under arrest.04-09-1958 Anastas Mikoyan’s Recollections of his Trip to China [↩]
Hooper (1982). Page 235 [↩] [Cite]
Wang (2002). Page 81 [↩] [Cite]
Brady (2003). Page 82 [↩] [Cite]
Schoenhals (2012). Page 61 [↩] [Cite]
Hsiung (1972). Page 150 [↩] [Cite]
Shen (2014). Page 141 [↩] [Cite]
Shen (2014). Page 144 [↩] [Cite]
Brady (2003). Page 87. [Cite]
Hooper (2018) remarks: "There was actually a hierarchy of privilege, based largely on when they first had personal links with the CCP." Hooper (2018). Page 69 [↩] [Cite]
Jersild (2014). Page 34. [Cite] The Chinese however, "Chinese specialists received training in the Soviet Union, and like the graduate students who studied there, they paid for most of it. According to the 9 August 1952 agreement, the Chinese were to pay 50 percent of the cost of the living expenses of some 38,000 students and technicians who eventually studied in the Soviet Union....the Chinese covered transport, travel within the USSR, food, accidents, medical problems, translators, and other expenses within the Soviet Union." Pages 36-37.
See also 22-03-1950 Chinese Draft of a Secret Agreement on the Working Conditions of Soviet Specialists in the PRC [↩]
Jersild (2014). Page 45. He continues "To their minds, Soviet norms were universal norms, especially applicable and useful in the Far East. Soviet industrial managers and economic offcials were remarkably oblivious to national borders and thought of China as simply another series of work sites within the vast Soviet system. From their perspective, the particular Chinese factory, institution, or ministry in question was simply the “zakazchik [customer, or placer of the order]” with an “order number” who could just as well have been located somewhere in provincial Russia or Soviet Central Asia.117 The Soviet factory or ministry identified to fulfill an “order,” in this contractual language, was the “supplier [postavshchik].” The language of socialist bloc exchange at the lower levels was surprisingly formal, testy, and contractual, a far cry from the numerous and public theoretical discussions, or the journalistic stories of sentimental bloc managers and their “fraternal” enthusiasm for fulfilling production requests from the distant corners of the bloc.118" Page 49. [↩] [Cite]
Jersild (2014). Pages 62-63 [↩] [Cite]
Hooper (2016). Page 5 [↩] [Cite]
King (2016). Page 144.[Cite]
"Japanese and Nationalist engineers were denied sensitive info and excluded from floor and management meetings.73 ...With about 10,000 Japanese engineers still working in Manchuria at the time, the new exclusionary security policies led to delays, increased accidents, and adecline in production quality.75" Sautin (2020). Page 244 [↩] [Cite]
King (2016). Page 167. [Cite]
Wang (2002) describes: "In the fall of 1952, representatives from countries around the world attending an Asian and Pacific Peace Conference in Beijing received permission to visit the Northeast. Lacking confidence in what the Japanese might relate to the outsiders, CCP authorities decided that it was better to arrange the foreigners’ visit in a way that they would not have a chance to meet local Japanese. When the order reached CCP’s grassroots cadres, they took it a bit too zealously. Directors of some factories gathered all of their Japanese engineers and technicians in concentration centers and put them under guard. In Shenyang, the Municipal Authority simply moved the Japanese out of the city and out of sight." Page 82 [↩] [Cite]
Heinzig (2004). Page 380 [↩] [Cite]
Ward (2011). Page 480. [Cite]
Wang (2015) observes "Taking the largest Anshan Iron and Steel Enterprises for instance, in 1949 there were 70 engineers in the company, where 62 of them were Japanese engineers who stayed on due to the continuation of the project or before the expiry of their employment. According to the relevant Chinese statistical data, after the Japanese engineers had been sent back to Japan, the proportion of engineers in the Northeast, which was the nation’s iron and steel center, had been reduced to 0.24% compared with the total engineers in the whole industry.40" Wang (2015). Page 49 [↩] [Cite]
King (2016). Page 171. A second repatriation programme, operated under the auspices of the Japanese and Chinese Red Cross, commenced in 1953 and continued on an irregular basis until 1958 when all repatriation programmes were terminated. Page 475 [↩] [Cite]
Brady (2003). Page 3 [↩] [Cite]
Lovell (2014). Page 142 [↩] [Cite]
Lovell (2014). Page 145 [↩] [Cite]
Sofield (1998). Page 369 [↩] [Cite]

Chapter 7 of Common Program