Article 59 of the Common Program
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Article 59 of the Common Program

The People's Government of the People's Republic of China protects law-abiding foreign nationals in China.




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."
25-04-1949 Mao Zedong "Proclamation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army." Liu Shaoqi in his report to Stalin also refers to the treatment of foreigners. 04-07-1949 Excerpts report of Liu Shaoqi to Stalin


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). 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. 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."
Garver John W. (2016). China’s Quest. The history of the foreign relations of the People's Republic of China. Page 46
Living in the People's Republic of 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.
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. 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
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"
Hooper Beverly (1982). The elimination of the western presence in China: The communist victory and its aftermath. Page 235
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"
Wang Xiaodong (2002). China Learning to Stand Up: Nationalism in the Formative Years of the People’s Republic of China. Page 81


Leaving the country is hazardous task for foreigners. It required public notice in newspapers, former employees made financial claims like severance pay. "Foreigners were required to have so-called "shop guarantees" from two Chinese business people before leaving the country. This guarantee was meant to cover any future or continuing liabilities of the departing foreigners. Foreigners were investigated to see if they had committed any crimes in China before they were allowed to leave and many found it difficult to take anything but their most basic possessions with them when they did depart."
Brady Anne-Marie (2003). Making the foreign serve China : managing foreigners in the People's Republic. Page 82
Secret investigation agents keep an eye on foreigners in places frequently visited and their communities.
Schoenhals Michael (2012). Spying for the People Mao’s Secret Agents, 1949–1967. Page 61
"…the Chinese also consider that aliens in China are never to be treated as though they had cut their ties with their home state… Many of the spy charges against foreign nationals may reflect this very tradition-bound Chinese suspicion toward strangers in their midst."
Hsiung James Chieh (1972). Law and Policy in China's Foreign Relations: A Study of Attitudes and Practice. Page 150

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"
Shen Zhihua and Xia Yafeng (2014). Chinese–North Korean Relations and Chinese Policy toward Korean Cross-Border Migration, 1950–1962. Page 141
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."
Shen (20140). Chinese–North Korean Relations. Page 144


On the other hand the 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.
See 27-06-1949 Memorandum of Conversation between Stalin and CCP Delegation
Brady (2003) remarks: "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."
Brady Anne-Marie (2003). Making the foreign serve China : managing foreigners in the People's Republic. Page 87. Hooper (2018) remarks: "There was actually a hierarchy of privilege, based largely on when they first had personal links with the CCP." Hooper Beverley (2018). Living in Mao’s China The European Experience 1949-1969. Page 69
Contact with the Chinese rarely went beyond a small circle of Chinese co-workers, interpreters, and attendants.
Jersild (2014) adds "The Chinese also bore these financial responsibilities for this part of the exchange. They paid the train fare for the specialists and their families to and from China, numerous expenses in China, the monthly salary for the onemonth vacation granted to experts who stayed in China for more than one year, and a 1,500–3,000 ruble monthly payment to the Soviet government, depending on the qualifications of the specialist.38 The April 1950 arrangement with the Ministry of Mechanical Engineering called for the Chinese to provide the Soviets with paid vacations, satisfactory conditions at work sites, “heated apartments with furniture,” qualified translators, health care, and exemptions from any Chinese taxes. At work sites the Chinese were obligated to cover transportation costs, any needed Chinese labor, and the cost of transporting equipment within China. If the time period for the project in question was extended, the Chinese were obligated to cover the additional costs associated with the extension.39 "
Jersild Austin (2014). The Sino-Soviet alliance An International History. Page 34. 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
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…"
Jersild (2014). The Sino-Soviet alliance. Page 45
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.
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.
Hooper (2016) remarks "In managing Western residents, China’s new government pursued a strategy of what might be called ‘privileged segregation’, which isolated and insulated them from the harsh realities of everyday life that ran counter to the publicized images of ‘new China’. The privileges included access to special stores for products that were of higher quality and/or difficult, if not impossible, to buy in regular shops. Westerners employed by the government were paid higher salaries than their Chinese counterparts, as well as being provided with superior accommodation, dining and other facilities."
Hooper Beverley (2016). Foreigners under Mao Western Lives in China, 1949–1976. Page 5.
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."
King Amy (2016). Reconstructing China: Japanese technicians and industrialization in the early years of the People’s Republic of China. Page 144
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."
King (2016). Reconstructing China. Page 167
From the end of 1951 onwards, the need for Japanese skilled work decreased because Soviet technicians began arriving. 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."
King (2016). Page 171


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."
Brady (2003) Making the foreign serve China. Page 3
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."
Lovell Julia (2014). The Uses of Foreigners in Mao-era China: ‘Techniques of Hospitality’ and International Image-building in the People’s Republic, 1949-1976. Page 142
Lovell (2014) continues "There can be no doubt that, in the minds of leaders like Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi and Mao Zedong, hosting foreign visitors represented high-level, confidential political work. In 1950, while Communist armies were still quashing the last remnants of opposition in the south and while the country was hammered by hyper-inflation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs focused on taking control of all contact between Chinese institutions and foreign visitors: ‘From now on, any institution that receives foreign guests must first contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is mandatory.’35 A report from 1954 declared that ‘receiving foreign guests is…an extremely significant political job, crucial for warming up the international situation…If rightists don’t come, they’ll always be saying bad things about us. If we do let them come, they’ll find that difficult.’36"
Lovell (2014). The Uses of Foreigners in Mao-era China. Page 145
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."
Sofield Trevor H. B. and Li Fung Mei Sarah (1998). Tourism development and cultural policies in China. Page 369


Garver John W. (2016). China’s Quest. The history of the foreign relations of the People's Republic of China. Page 46 Back
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. 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 Back
Hooper Beverly (1982). The elimination of the western presence in China: The communist victory and its aftermath. Page 235 Back
Wang Xiaodong (2002). China Learning to Stand Up: Nationalism in the Formative Years of the People’s Republic of China. Page 81 Back
Brady (2003). Making the foreign serve China. Page 82 Back
Schoenhals Michael (2012). Spying for the People Mao’s Secret Agents, 1949–1967. Page 61 Back
Hsiung James Chieh (1972). Law and Policy in China's Foreign Relations: A Study of Attitudes and Practice. Page 150 Back
Shen Zhihua and Xia Yafeng (2014). Chinese–North Korean Relations and Chinese Policy toward Korean Cross-Border Migration, 1950–1962. Page 141 Back
Shen (20140). Chinese–North Korean Relations. Page 144 Back
Brady Anne-Marie (2003). Making the foreign serve China : managing foreigners in the People's Republic. Page 87. Hooper (2018) remarks: "There was actually a hierarchy of privilege, based largely on when they first had personal links with the CCP." Hooper Beverley (2018). Living in Mao’s China The European Experience 1949-1969. Page 69 Back
Jersild Austin (2014). The Sino-Soviet alliance An International History. Page 34. 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 Back
Jersild (2014). The Sino-Soviet alliance. Page 45 Back
Hooper Beverley (2016). Foreigners under Mao Western Lives in China, 1949–1976. Page 5 Back
King Amy (2016). Reconstructing China: Japanese technicians and industrialization in the early years of the People’s Republic of China. Page 144 Back
King (2016). Reconstructing China. Page 167 Back
King (2016). Page 171 Back
Brady (2003). Page 3 Back
Lovell Julia (2014). The Uses of Foreigners in Mao-era China: ‘Techniques of Hospitality’ and International Image-building in the People’s Republic, 1949-1976. Page 142 Back
Lovell (2014). The Uses of Foreigners in Mao-era China. Page 145 Back
Sofield Trevor H. B. and Li Fung Mei Sarah (1998). Tourism development and cultural policies in China. Page 369 Back