Resolution of the First All-China Congress of Soviets on the Question of National Minorities in China (November, 1931)
In view of the current controversies generated over the question of Tibet the publication of this document is of great value. Even though it was formulated by the Communist Party of China in 1931 it is relevant today in its application of the basic principles of Marxism to the national question in the Chinese state.
1. There are many national minorities living on Chinese territory, as, for example, Mongolians, Tibetans, Mohametans, Koreans, Annamites, Miao, Yao, and others in the Sinkian, Hunan, and Kwangsi provinces, and the Muslims in Kiangsu, Szechwan and other provinces. For a very great number of years Chinese emperors, landlords, government officials and merchants’ and usurers’ capital have oppressed them and domineered over them. After the formation of the Chinese Republic, these national minorities were not only left without national emancipation, but on the contrary the yoke of exploitation of the Chinese militarists, landlords, government officials and merchants’ and usurers’ capital became greater still. Unprecedented famine and ruin devastated the areas populated by the national minorities (for example Kiangsu and Sinkian). Every form of resistance, every protest movement on the part of these national minorities was put down with unheard of cruelty (for example the punitive tactics of Feng Yui-Hsiang against the Moslems).
The Kuomintang, which represents the Chinese landlords among the bourgeoisie, still further increased the oppression, exploitation and persecution of the national minorities. All the talk about so-called ‘equality of nations’ and a ‘Five Nations’ Republic’ is just so much deception on the part of the Kuomintang Government.
The First All-China Congress of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies calls upon the Chinese workers and peasants as well as all the toiling masses of the of the national minorities living on the territory of China to fight resolutely against Sun Yat-Sen’s so-called ‘nationalism’ since it fully satisfies the interests of the landlords and the bourgeoisie, but cannot in any way or by any means be acceptable to the Chinese Soviet Republic.
2. The Chinese workers, peasants, soldiers, and all the toiling masses shall fight determinedly against the oppression of national minorities, and strive for their complete emancipation. In view of this, the First All-China Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, and Soldiers’ Deputies declares that the Chinese Soviet Republic categorically and unconditionally recognises the rights of national minorities to self-determination. This means that in districts like Mongolia, Tibet, Sinkian, Yunnan, Kweichow and others, where the majority of the population belongs to non-Chinese nationalities, the toiling masses of those nationalities shall have the right to self-determine for themselves whether they wish to leave the Chinese Soviet Republic and create their own independent state or whether they wish to join the Union of Soviet Republics, or form an autonomous area inside the Chinese Soviet Republic. The Chinese Soviet Republic shall do its utmost to assist and encourage all the struggles of the national minorities against imperialism, against the Chinese militarists, landlords, government officials and merchants’ and usurers’ capital. The Chinese Soviet Republic shall also support the national-revolutionary movement and the struggle waged against the attacks and threats of the imperialists and the Kuomintang militarists by the national minorities which have already won their independence as, for example, the Outer Mongolian National Republic.
3. At the same time the First All-China Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies deems it necessary to point out that it is not only the toiling masses of the national minorities, but also the masses of the Chinese workers and peasants themselves who suffer oppression, exploitation and persecution at the hands of the imperialists and Chinese militarists, landlords and bourgeois. At the same time the toiling masses of the national minorities are oppressed and exploited not only by the imperialists and Chinese militarists, landlords and the bourgeoisie, but also by their own ruling classes: in Mongolia, by the princes and ‘Living Buddhas’; in Tibet, by the lamas; in Korea, by the gentry while the Miao, the Yao and other nationalities are exploited by their own tu-his and so on. These ruling classes are the tools of the imperialists, the landlords and the bourgeoisie for they assist the latter in oppressing and exploiting the toiling masses of the national minorities. Consequently the First All-China Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, and Soldiers’ Deputies calls upon the toiling masses of the national minorities to unite with the Chinese masses of workers and peasants in a joint struggle against their common oppressors and exploiters, against imperialism and the rule of the native landlords and bourgeoisie, and for the creation of a Workers’ and Peasants’ Soviet Government. At the same time the First All-China Congress of Soviets of Workers’ Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies calls upon the toiling masses of the national minorities to fight against their own oppressors, against their own ruling classes, which, behind a smoke screen of nationalist slogans, savagely denounce the Soviet Union and the Chinese Soviet Republic for the sole reason that both these states belong to the workers and peasants, and engage in irreconcilable battle against the imperialists and exploiters.
4. The First All-China Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, and Soldiers’ Deputies openly declares before the toiling masses of all nationalities in China that it is the purpose of the Chinese Soviet Republic to create a single state for them, without national barriers, and to uproot all national enmity and national prejudices in order to achieve this object, the Chinese Soviet Republic shall extend the operation of all its laws – agrarian, labour, suffrage, etc. – unconditionally to all the toiling masses living in the territory of the Chinese Soviet Republic irrespective of the nationality to which they belong.
The Chinese Soviet Republic must also pay special attention to the development of the productive forces and to raising the level of culture in the backward national autonomous areas of the Chinese Soviet Republic. Schools must be opened in which the instruction shall be in the native languages of the national minorities, publishing houses must be founded, and the use of native languages, both written and oral, must be permitted in all governmental departments; the local workers and peasants from the small nationalities must form cadres for the work of state administration, and Chinese big power chauvinism must be resolutely combated.
5. The First All-China Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, and Soldiers’ Deputies is of the opinion that today there is only one country in the whole world – the Soviet Union – which has actually overthrown the power of its landlords and bourgeoisie once and for all, and where the worker and peasant masses have achieved complete emancipation. The Soviet Union is the greatest force in the struggle against world imperialism. The Soviet Union is the only country in which there is no persecution of one nation by another, where there are no national animosities, where the national question has indeed been solved.
The First All-China Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, and Soldiers’ Deputies holds that the yoke of international imperialism can be thrown off and oppression and exploitation can be abolished only in alliance with the worker and peasant masses of the whole world, only in alliance with all oppressed nations and under the guidance of the Soviet Union.
Therefore, the First All-China Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, and Soldiers’ Deputies resolves:
1. In the Fundamental Law (Constitution) of the Chinese Soviet Republic, it shall clearly be stated that all national minorities within the confines of China shall have the right to national self-determination, including secession from China and the formation of independent states, and that the Chinese Soviet Republic fully and unconditionally recognises the independence of the Outer Mongolian People’s Republic.
2. The toiling masses of all national minorities on the territory of the Chinese Republic, especially in those areas where the majority of the population is Chinese shall enjoy absolute equality with the latter, nor shall any of their legal rights or obligations be denied or abridged on account of nationality.
3. The Provisional Soviet Government is hereby instructed to devote special attention to the development of the productive forces in the national republics and autonomous areas that may be attached to the Chinese Soviet Republic. It shall raise their cultural level, shall train and promote local cadres so as completely to abolish all animosities and national prejudices and create a single workers’ and peasants’ State without any national barriers whatsoever.
4. The Provisional Soviet Government is hereby further instructed to take all steps necessary to render active and concrete aid and support to the national emancipation struggle of the minor nationalities against the Kuomintang militarists, against all Chinese and non-Chinese landlords and capitalists.
5. Finally, the Provisional Soviet Government is hereby instructed immediately to establish the closest political, economical and cultural ties with the Soviet Union.
(Adopted by the Congress at Juichin, Kiangsi, November, 1931).
‘Fundamental Law of the Chinese Soviet Republic’, Martin Lawrence Ltd., London, 1934, pp.78-83.