Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Yin Shusheng: My Experiences in the work of implementing Ethnic (Nationalities) policies

 (Written by Yin Shusheng, Former Executive Deputy Director of Public Security Bureau,  Anhui Province, also worked in Public Security Bureau, Qinghai Province)


Translated by Jianglin Li
Edited by Matthew Akester

*All notes and square brackets added by translator*


From July 11 to August 4, 1961, the First Ethnic Work Conference of the Northwest Bureau of the CCP Central Committee was held in Lanzhou. The conference “mainly focused on discussing work and people’s communes in the pastoral areas of the northwest since 1958. At the same time, it also carefully examined the implementation of the party's ethnic and religious policies since 1958, made preliminary summaries of main experience in this area, and studied the policies and methods for improvements” (original text in the Summary).  The conference passed a Summary of the First Conference on Northwest Ethnic Work and submitted it to the CCP Central Committee. On December 6 of the same year, the Central Committee approved the Summary (see Volume 14 of Selected Important Documents since the Founding of the People's Republic of China) and forwarded it [to Party committees of other regional bureaus and provinces].

It was under the “left-leaning” guiding idea, the Great Leap Forward and the theory of class struggle, that the Summary fully affirmed the great achievements in pastoral, ethnic and religious work in the Northwestern Region since 1958. It also fully affirmed the greatness and correctness of implementing The General Line,[1] The Great Leap Forward and the People's Commune, i.e., the "Three Red Flags" (see the original text of the Summary) , while at the same time, it had to admit that in the pastoral area, "in many places the ethnic  issues in the socialist revolution and socialist construction were ignored, and the party’s ethnic policies were not conscientiously implemented and executed, or were even violated. Problems in Tibetan areas of Qinghai and Gansu (mainly pastoral areas) stood out as the most serious.” “At present, in some areas the disaster is particularly severe, and there are great difficulties in the lives of the masses... all efforts must be made in disaster relief and to save lives." In the past three years, "some comrades did not treat ethnic minorities as equals, did not care about their sufferings and difficulties, violated their autonomous rights, forcefully change their customs and habits, and distrusted and discriminated against ethnic minorities." “In the past three or four years, there have been many problems in the work of Qinghai, Gansu and other ethnic minority areas, serious mistakes have been made, causing major losses and great difficulties."

The Summary of the conference made decisions to relax the policy, restore and develop production in animal husbandry, and improve life for the herders. It also listed many specific regulations, such as adjusting ethnic and religious policies, re-opening some forcibly closed monasteries, and allowing religious believers to continue religious activities. The "left" mistakes in suppressing rebellion and counter-revolutionaries were to be corrected to a certain extent:  "resolutely implement the 'four no-s' policy,[2] and all [rebels] come back to surrender, regardless of how big their crime was,  the ‘no kill, no imprisonment, no sentencing, no struggle policy’ is to be applied without exception"; “In general society, the 'rebel family member' hat is not to be given randomly, in order to win over and divide the enemies”; Not to “forcibly reform customs and habits of ethnic minorities"; and "cadres who have committed serious mistakes and failed to change their ways should be given appropriate punishment by way of education.” To redress unjust, fabricated and wrongly-brought cases, the most urgent task was to immediately release innocent individuals still held in detention centers. The Summary made this clear request: "The wrongly arrested must be released, those wrongly accused as rebel elements must be vindicated, those already dead must have their charges dropped and their names cleared. In accordance with the principle of drawing distinctions and handling with leniency, continue the effort to sort out criminal cases and release a batch of detainees, in order to divide and disintegrate enemies and stabilize society." (All citations quoted from the Summary).

The CCP Central Committee made the following comment on the Summary: "The Summary of the First Ethnic Work Conference in the Northwest Region is very good. The Central Committee agrees with the guidelines and methods formulated in this summary. The Northwest Bureau should forward it to party committees at all levels to be implemented." “The experience of the northwest, first and foremost the experience of  Tibetan areas in Qinghai and Gansu, proves once again that in the process of socialist revolution and socialist construction, it is wrong and groundless to ignore the ethnic minority issue. Some localities did not conscientiously implement, or even violated, the party’s ethnic policies, causing damage to our work." "The important factor of ethnic issues in the common socialist cause shared by all ethnic groups in our country must not be ignored. Ignoring this issue, not doing a good job in minority work, failing to act resolutely in accordance with ethnic policies, will lead us to commit mistakes."

The comments pointed out that during the socialist revolution and construction from 1958 to 1960, ethnic issues were ignored in the pastoral areas in the northwest region, but that these mistakes were made due to failure to seriously implement the party’s ethnic policies, resulting in losses [in the work]. The Central Committee did not point out the root causes of the mistakes. It was under the guidance of the  "Three Red Flags,"[3] the eagerness to transition to socialism, and the demand  to “combine the two steps” (the democratic revolution and the socialist revolution) into one step, so as to bring the pastoral area, together with the agricultural regions, into communism within two to three years, without taking the characteristics of ethnic minority areas into consideration, that the mistakes were made. Since the CCP Central Committee still believed that the "Three Red Flags” was great and correct, it was impossible to point out the root cause of the problem. Not only the pastoral areas in the northwest region, but the agricultural areas were also ravaged in the “Great Leap Forward” era. The masses in the agricultural areas also suffered tremendous deaths and injuries, their losses were no less than the pastoral areas.

Qinghai and Gansu were the two key provinces in the process of implementing the Summary in the Northwest, and the pastoral areas in these two provinces were the key areas for implementation. 

There were six prefectures in the pastoral region of Qinghai Province, namely Yushu, Guoluo, Hainan, Huangnan, Haibei and Haixi.[4] These prefectures account for about 85% of the province's total land area, and are inhabited by ethnic minorities, predominantly Tibetans. At the time, the Tibetan population was about 470,000, accounting for 19.6% of the province's total population of 2.44 million, and 49% of the total population of 950,000 in the pastoral region. Except for the two prefectures of Haixi and Haibei, rebellion broke out in the other four, namely Yushu, Guoluo, Hainan and Huangnan, in the spring of 1958. By 1959, the rebellion was basically put down. Throughout Qinghai Province, regardless of whether agricultural or pastoral area, or whether local people rebelled or not, the Qinghai Provincial Party Committee headed by Gao Feng implemented the General Line, Great Leap Forward and People’s Communes using methods infused with extreme leftist dictatorship, proposing to "combine the two steps of democratic revolution and the socialist revolution in one step and complete the tasks of realizing the democratic revolution and the socialist revolution in two to three years", and “accomplish socialist transformation in animal husbandry” in Qinghai.  As a result, industrial, agricultural and animal husbandry productivity in the whole province suffered great damage. Hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation and persecution. There were numerous cases of people falsely or wrongly charged and sentenced that need to be redressed, and a large number of innocent people behind bars needed to be released. I gave some preliminary information about this in several articles published in Yanhuang Chunqiu, but the focus was mainly on the agricultural area and not much on the pastoral area.  Many readers wrote letters and made phone calls to me, asking me to write something about the situation in pastoral areas. This article gives some information on implementing the "Summary of the First Northwest Ethnic Work Conference”, redressing the "left" line of political and public security work, and releasing acquitted detainees in pastoral areas of Qinghai Province.

From 1958 to 1960, under the guidance of the  "Great Leap Forward in Public Security Work" slogan, and to ensure smooth progress of the "Great Leap Forward" movement, the Qinghai Provincial Public Security Bureau arbitrarily arrested and detained people who opposed, resisted or were considered potential opponents of the movement. In three years, 63,064 people were arrested, 6,157 detained, 9,918 sentenced to live under surveillance, and 39,419 sent to collective political reeducation camps, making a total of 108,558, accounting for 4.4% of the province's total population of 2.44 million. Among them, 44,532 were arrested in the pastoral regions, accounting for 4.66% of the total population of 950,000 there, and a total of 18,263 arrests were made in agricultural areas and Xining City, accounting for 1.2% of the total population of 1.53 million in those areas. The proportion of arrests in pastoral regions was much higher than in agricultural regions.

Let’s take a look at the number of arrests in the four pastoral prefectures where rebellions took place: from 1958 to 1960,15,402 arrests or 15.3% of the prefecture’s three-year average population of 100,535 were made in Yushu Prefecture; 6,593 or 8.77% of the three-year average population of 75,176 in Guoluo Prefecture;  9,682 or 4.78% of the three-year average population of 202,552 in Hainan Prefecture; 7,866 or 5.28% of the three-year average of 148,977 in Huangnan Prefecture.

Here are a few typical examples: In Xinzhai production team, Red Flag Commune, Yushu County, Yushu Prefecture, 176 people were arrested over three years, accounting for 36.3% of the total population. In Maduo Commune, Guinan County, Hainan Prefecture, with 697 households and 1,360 adults, 404 people were arrested and detained, accounting for 16.7% of the total population and 29.4% of the adult population. 292 households were involved, accounting for 41% of the total number of households. 228 households had one member arrested, 70 households had two or more.  In four households, everyone in the family was arrested. Xiatang Commune’s Sha Naihai production team, Xinghai[5] County, Hainan Prefecture had a total of 41 households and 105 people. A total of 91 were labeled  "four kinds of elements"[6] and "counter-revolutionary social foundations", accounting for 86.4% of the total population. In some localities in Yushu Prefecture, so many adult males had been arrested that when public security officials went there to make more arrests, the local masses demanded that "some human seeds be spared."

In the name of religious reform, they interfered with freedom of religious belief. A large number of monasteries were forcibly disbanded, and religious personnel returned to lay life. "From August to the end of November 1958, out of 859 lamaist temples in the province, 731 have been dismantled; out of  54, 281 religious personnel,  24,613 were sent home to participate in production" (Speech by Du Hua-an, representative of Qinghai Province, at the 11th United Front Department Director’s Conference in Beijing on December 18th, 1958. See Collection of Documents on Ethnic and Religious Work, Volume II).

The province had a total of 2,290 upper strata ethnic and religious figures as objects of United Front work, 1,572 of them were arrested and sentenced, or 69%. Hainan Prefecture had 257 United Front targets, 227 were arrested, accounting for 87%. In Haixi Prefecture, where no rebellion took place, 58 out of 69 United Front targets were arrested, accounting for 86%. Out of the 52 United Front targets in Anqian[7]County, Yushu Prefecture, except for seven who slipped away, the other 45 were all arrested.

Was it wrong to arrest these people? As required by the provincial party committee, Yushu Prefecture [party committee] carried out rectification through self-examination and self-correction. As of October 1961, the first batch of 2,524 arrests was reviewed, and 2,246 were considered incorrect, accounting for 89.2% of the total number of arrests; 203 were considered basically correct, accounting for 8%, the other 75 were “borderline” cases (Author's note: according to the regulations formulated by the Central Committee, to arrest “borderline” people was considered a mistake).

The review of the first batch of 794 arrests in Hainan Prefecture found that 494 were incorrect, accounting for 62.1%. Since it was self-examination and self-correction, it was impossible to be accurate. When the provincial party committee working group went to Hainan Prefecture for field inspection, the results showed that less than 2% of arrests and sentences were correct. In Zeku[8] County, Huangnan Prefecture, 517 arrests were made in 1958. The provincial party committee sent an inspection team to review the cases. It turned out that there were no records for 465 arrests, only 52 were recorded, and the longest records were no more than 100 words. Some records contained only a few words written after the names of the suspects, such as "rebel", "bad guy", "has reactionary thoughts", etc., but no specific criminal activities. More than 90% of the people detained in the prefecture should not even have been arrested. 

Due to extortion of confessions by torture and food deprivation, a large number of the detained and arrested died in custody.  Yushu Prefecture Detention Center had 4,219 deaths in custody, accounting for 56.2% of the total number of detainees. In addition, 1,641 deaths occurred in reeducation training camps, accounting for 48.5% of the total number of people sent to those camps. In 1960 alone, 212 detainees died in the detention center administered by Huangnan Prefecture Public Security Bureau, accounting for 55.1% of the 385 detainees in that year. There were 698 deaths in Guoluo Prefecture’s reeducation training camps in 1960, accounting for 24% of the 2,251 people put into those camps.

The above-cited statistics were collected through self-examination and self-correction during the rectification. Statistics in key regions were verified by the provincial inspection team. Therefore, the numbers are accurate and reliable, and can only be lower rather than higher [than actual numbers].

People were recklessly labeled as “four kinds of elements” and “rebels”. In three years, 34,000 people were given hats as  "reactionary elements" and "bad elements", and another 74,091 people were classified as "counter-revolutionary social foundations", altogether a total of around 108,000, accounting for 4.4% of the total population in the province.

Up to the summer and fall of 1961, deaths continued to occur every day among those still being held in detention centers and training camps. For this reason, it was crucial for the Summary to demand [action] based on the spirit of “handle with leniency, continue to sort out and release detainees." Human life is a supreme matter, it had to be done in this way.  In accordance with this requirement, the prompt release of innocent detainees became a top priority. The CCP Northwest Bureau requested the Northwestern provinces, especially the Qinghai and Gansu Provincial Committees where the most arrests were made, to attach great importance to this matter and act immediately without delay, and dispatched inspection teams to Gansu and Qinghai to supervise and inspect. The first inspection team of the Northwest Bureau, consisting of three people, arrived in Qinghai on December 9th, 1961. The General Office, the Political and Legal Committee of the Qinghai Provincial Party Committee and the provincial Public Security Bureau each sent one person, together with the Northwest Bureau’s team, forming a joint inspection team of six to visit Yushu and Guoluo, the two key prefectures, to conduct on-the-spot inspection and supervision of the release of innocent detainees.

I had not been in the job for long, and did not have much experience.[9] Being assigned to the inspection team, I felt scrupulous and timid. However, once I heard what Zhang Zhixuan said, I was not worried any more. Zhang Zhixuan was the leader of the joint inspection team and the director of the Political and Legal section of the Northwest Bureau.  He told us: "Before leaving, the first secretary of the Northwest Bureau, Liu Lantao, gave us this instruction: Your mission is very simple: it is to supervise the release of detainees. No more deaths of innocent people in detention centers and prisons. Therefore, our inspection procedure in these two prefectures is quite straightforward. We just go to the detention centers and remand houses under their public security departments to find out how many people are still held there and why they have not been released. If they cannot give an answer, we tell them to release these people.  Whoever refuses to do so will be held responsible for any death in custody."

The inspection team departed from Xining on December 12th, and the first stop was Yushu Prefecture. Arriving at Huashixia[10] in Maduo County, Guoluo, we had to spend the night there due to snowy weather and icy roads. Except for the two jeep drivers, all of us in the inspection team suffered from vomiting and headache caused by altitude sickness. The head officer  (there was no hotel in the area, so we stayed in the army depot) told us that the weather in Huashixia was the worst in the area, and since we had never been on the plateau before, we should not have stayed here. The altitude in Jiegu[11] was lower, so we would be fine once we reached there. The next day, in the early morning, we ate the half-cooked noodles prepared by the army depot (on the plateau, water boils at lower than 90 degrees Celsius), and hurried on the road, arriving at Jiegu, the capital of Yushu Prefecture, in the afternoon. After being treated by a doctor and good night’s sleep, we gradually got back to normal.

The Yushu Prefecture Party Committee and the head of the Public Security Department reported to the inspection team on their implementation of the Summary of the First Conference on Ethnic Work in the Northwest Bureau (due to the urgency of the situation, the Qinghai Provincial Party Committee telegrammed the Summary to Party committees of every prefecture and county before the Central Committee forwarded it, urging them to implement and execute).  Especially after the Qinghai Provincial Party Committee issued the "Urgent Notice on Unconditional Release of Innocent Detainees in Custody" on August 23, 713 detainees were released from the prefectural detention center.   Currently only 12 were detained, for criminal offences. At the moment, less than 100 detainees were held in six counties, and no detainees in two county detention centers. After listening to the report, led by Director Fan, the inspection team went to the prefecture detention center for on-the-spot inspection. It was true that only 12 detainees were there. We learned that  five detainees illegally slaughtered one cow and four sheep, and stole three jin of butter belonging to the production team because of hunger.  The evidence was conclusive, and they all confessed.

The inspection team discussed this case, and decided that these five detainees committed the theft under circumstances of food shortage and extreme difficulties in their daily life. The offences were minor, and they should be spared of criminal liability. Moreover, they were all sick (due to hunger) and might die in custody if not released immediately. The director of the prefecture Public Security Department ordered the head of the detention center to release them right away. He also instructed that the five detainees be given a sufficient meal before release, and the head of the detention center was responsible for sending them home.

The remaining seven detainees were arrested for robbery or fighting that caused severe injuries and disability, so the consequences were more serious. They were not immediately released, and were kept in custody waiting for the court sentence. The inspection team wanted the detention center to find ways to give them enough food, to treat the sick ones and gradually restore their health. If nothing could be done, they should be released for medical treatment on bail. The general requirement was that they were not allowed to die in the detention center. The Yushu County Detention Center was also located in Jiegu. Since no detainees were left there, the inspection team did not go to there for a further check. However, Director Fan did not feel comfortable, and asked me to double check on my own. I went to the detention center with the head of the county public security bureau and did not find any detainees there.

It took us a little over one day to complete the inspection in Yushu Prefecture and Yushu County. Things went much smoother than we had expected. In the evening, Shen × × [sic],[12] secretary of the prefecture party committee, invited the inspection team to dinner, but the team leader Zhang Zhixuan turned it down. That was because in Xining, he was briefed by the provincial public security department and the provincial party committee political and legal team, and learned that the reason so many arrests were made in Yushu Prefecture in recent years was to do with this secretary and his firm execution of the "leftist" line.

 In 1958 and 1959, under heavy pressure from him, the prefecture Public Security Bureau made many indiscriminate arrests, and a large number of the detainees died in prisons, detention centers, and training camps. When a report was sent to him, as the prefecture party secretary, he turned a deaf ear. By April 1960, he still had not learned the lesson. Not only did he fail to release the detainees, he even continued to order more arrests. When the prefecture political and legal team proposed the 1500-2000 arrest plan based on the quota allocated by the province, he inflated the number with one stroke of the pen to 5000-7000, and wrote down this instruction: "You do not have to be restricted to this number." Angqian County in this prefecture planned to make 170 arrests in 1960. His commented that this was "too right-leaning." As a result, 760 people were arrested throughout the year, and nearly all were wrongfully arrested.

Seeing that the Yushu Prefecture public security organs had the right attitude, and implemented the Summary immediately, releasing innocent detainees with effective measures and distinctive results, the inspection team cancelled its original plan to inspect the other counties of Yushu Prefecture. After discussion, the team went directly to Jiuzhi[13] County in Guoluo Prefecture, which had the highest proportion of arrests and sent the largest number of people’s petition letters received by authorities. After three days of hard travel, we arrived at Jiuzhi County, Guoluo prefecture which borders Aba Prefecture in Sichuan.

This small county with a population of  5,918  in 1958 had 1,540 people arrested in three years, accounting for 27% of the total population. Among them, 848 died in prisons and detention centers, the death rate was as high as 57%. In accordance with the spirit of the Summary of the Northwestern Ethnic Work Conference, 862 detainees were innocent and had to be released immediately. However, most of them had already died in detention centers or reform-through-labor teams. Only 437 people were actually released. By December 23, they were all let go.

On December 19, 1961, in order to implement the Provincial party Committee’s “unconditional release of innocent detainees” policy, the county’s  Kangsai[14] Commune (the commune with the highest proportion of arrests) informed the families of the arrested individuals that the prefectural Public Security Bureau was to release all those arrested from the commune that day, and the family members were asked to pick up their relatives from the commune and take them home. However, when the prefecture Public Security Bureau’s truck supposedly carrying the detainees arrived, only 27 people got off. The families of the other 157 detainees were told that they had died in labor camps and detention centers. Those family members started to wail on the spot. In the evening, they lit butter lamps at home and prayed for the dead. All the members of the inspection team witnessed this tragic scene at Kangsai Commune. After the conclusion of the inspection work, the team wrote a report to Liu Lantao, first secretary of the Northwestern Bureau. The title of one of the sections was:  "Relatives told to pick up their family members only to learn that they had died, and butter lamps lit at home to pray for the dead." At first, when detainees died in labor camps, factories, detention centers, remand centers, training camps, and reform-through-labor camps, their families were notified. Later, when more and more deaths took place, families of the deceased were no longer told.  Meanwhile, their family members and relatives continued to write letters to them and encourage them to "reform well, strive for early release and come home to reunite with us."

One important reason for the situation in this county to be so serious was that the county Party Committee headed by secretary Guo × × [sic][15] implemented the General Line, the Great Leap Forward and the People's Commune, so-called religious reform, and following the “leftist” line, to the point of madness. He constantly instructed the Public Security organs to arrest, arrest, and arrest, saying that “putting all the bad people behind the bars will make our work easier.” There was not enough manpower in the [county] Public Security Bureau to send people down to make arrests. He then wanted the communes to arrest everyone who opposed the communization, the unconditional confiscation of cattle and sheep, and transfer of their ownership to the communes, and eating in communal canteens. In addition, people who had “secret connections with rebel bandits”, committed minor theft, or performed normal religious activities were to be detained as well. What could be done, as communes were not able to find people to escort the detainees? He came up with this idea: "Make them walk right into the trap. Find an excuse, and tell them to deliver a letter to the Public Security Bureau on behalf of the commune, and give them work-points for doing it. Write “arrest the bearer” in the letter, grab him when he arrives at the Public Security Bureau to deliver the letter, and lock him up." 76 people were arrested by the Public Security Bureau in the way he designed.

The inspection team went to the county Public Security Bureau detention center, and saw a detainee named Lhorga. The team asked the director of the bureau what his crime was and why he was not released? The answer was that he had no idea why the man was brought in, and they planned to release him the next day.  Zhang Zhixuan asked Lhorga why he was detained, and Lhorga replied that in August the year before, the commune told him to deliver cow dung to the canteen. He was late for the task. The president of the commune told him to deliver a letter for the commune to the Public Security Bureau. After he brought the letter there, the Public Security Bureau detained him and refused to let him go home. When asked to whom the letter was sent, he said it was Secretary Zhao of the Public Security Bureau. We went to see Secretary Zhao, who claimed that he could not remember anything about it. We asked him to open his desk drawers, and found the note with “arrest the bearer” in it. At the same time, five more similar notes were discovered.

Through these five notes, we traced a person named Deng Shan [Donsang?] in Work Team III of the Baiyu Commune[16] in this county. The commune decided to arrest him for stealing a set of sheep offal from the communal canteen, and told him that if he sent a letter to the Public Security Bureau, he would not be held accountable for his theft. Deng Shan was unable to go to the county because his child was ill. He asked his close friend Zhou Pu Jia to deliver the letter for him. Zhou Pu Jia went to the county Public Security Bureau, and handed the letter to Secretary Zhao. Seeing "Arrest the bearer" in the letter, Zhao locked him up in the detention center. Zhou Pu Jia repeatedly pleaded that he had just delivered the letter for Deng Shan. Zhao paid no attention to him. It resulted in Zhou’s death in the detention center in less than three months. Zhang Zhixuan asked Secretary Zhao: “These people detained by you, have you asked them what crimes they have committed?” His answer: “Once I see the words ‘arrest the bearer’ in the letter, I just lock him up. Whether he is innocent or not is not my business, it is the business of pre-trial investigators. I just follow the orders of my superior.”

Secretary Guo not only instructed the public security organs to indiscriminately arrest innocent people, he also put his hand in the dirt himself. He personally ordered dozens of people to be arrested.

On March 21, 1960, the county party committee convened a department cadres’ meeting. At the meeting, Secretary Guo criticized the cadres for their sluggishness, passive absenteeism, lack of confidence in overcoming temporary difficulties, serious [lapses into] liberal ideology, gossiping and slandering the leadership, creating rifts between comrades, etc.  He became more and more agitated as he talked and talked, suddenly he slammed the table, stood up, shouted (Author’s note: real surname, real name, real scene) “Is police chief Chen Xigui here?”  In shock, Chen Xigui promptly stood up and replied uneasily “Secretary Guo, I am here”.

Secretary Guo said, “Some cadres of our county party committee organs have a crooked style of thinking and serious liberal thoughts. They must be severely punished in order to stop this unhealthy tendency. Wang Wancheng in the County Party Committee Propaganda Department is one of them. Now, I order you to arrest him right away!”

Wang Wancheng was overwhelmed and terrified. Chen Xigui walked up to him and said “Did you hear? Follow me, please!”

Wang Wancheng stood up and said to Guo “Secretary Guo, I am wronged!”

Secretary Guo yelled at him “You are wronged? I was the one wronged! Chen Xigui, take him away!”

Just in this way, Wang Wancheng was locked up in the county Public Security detention center, and held until the provincial party committee issued an urgent notice. He was detained for more than a year without being tried, because the Public Security Bureau had no idea what crime he had committed, and did not dare to ask Secretary Guo. After Wang Wancheng was released, he returned to the Propaganda Department and asked his colleagues why he was arrested. A colleague said to him, “You once said that Secretary Guo was so under-educated that he could not even say the slogan “serve the people with faith and loyalty” correctly, right? It suddenly dawned on Wang that he had said this. Apparently, someone had passed the gossip to Secretary Guo. He had to accept his bad luck.

Once, Secretary Guo went to inspect the county pastures. The director invited him to have butter tea. Guo handed his horse to a herder named Qu Hu Jie and asked him to feed it. After feeding, Qu Hu Jie saw that Guo’s horse was strong and sturdy, out of curiosity he rode the horse and imitated the way Guo rode it. Seeing this scene, Guo scolded Qu Hu Jie and ordered him to get off the horse, accusing him of swindling and cheating by pretending to be the county Party Committee leader.  He ordered Chen Xigui, the director of county Public Security Bureau who was accompanying him, to tie Qu Hu Jie up. Chen rode the horse, leading Qu Hu Jie by a rope to the bureau and locked him up in the detention center on charges of  “impersonating the county party committee leader, swindling and cheating”. Later he was sentenced to three years in prison.

On the instructions of Secretary Guo, two surrendered rebels were arrested and detained by the county Public Security Bureau. They were tortured to extort a confession and were dying. Chen Xigui reported to Guo that the two men were sick and dying, and the Public Security Bureau planned to release them. Secretary Guo said “What if they rebel again after release? It is better to kill them. As a result, the policemen strangled them with rope.”

In April 1960, Secretary Guo was ill and was hospitalized in the county hospital. He asked a nurse named Xiao x x [sic.] to give him a massage and demanded that she masturbate for him. She was terrified, but could not refuse. She confided to a close friend, seeking a way out of the situation. Unfortunately, word was passed on. Secretary Guo flew into a rage out of shame, accused her of “insulting the leader and making slanderous charges”, expelled her from public employment, dismissed her from the Youth League, and threw her into reform-through-labor camp for two years.

In a region with a very small, scattered and 100% ethnic minority population, the CCP Jiuzhi County Committee headed by Guo x x pushed the General Line, the Great Leap Forward and the People's Commune in a blind and ruthless way, completely disregarding the real situation and characteristics of ethnic [minority] areas. It was totally crazy. On September 5, 1958, the county forcibly established 175 animal husbandry production cooperatives. On October 10th, in order to transition to communism, these 175 animal husbandry production cooperatives were merged to form six People's Communes, and the county’s entire herder population of 1,587 households and 5,123 people were forced to join the communes.  A total of 79,092 privately owned livestock were illegally confiscated and became collective property of the commune. By 1961, the livestock had reduced by nearly half, and the herders’ life was in a desperate situation. They had to rely on digging wild vegetables, silverweed roots and hunting to keep themselves alive.

In April 1959, the county forcibly established a total of 104 communal canteens.  Most of the county’s population were nomads scattered over a vast area, leading a lifestyle of following water and grass, with no fixed address. When forced to eat in the canteen, some herders had to ride on horseback for dozens of kilometers just to have a meal. Guo ordered all the 12 monasteries in the county to be closed, driving the monks out to cultivate the grassland, and brought in more than 2,000 immigrants from Henan province to establish farms. By 1960, the county had opened 112,477 mu[17] of land, actually planting 53,950 mu, including 48,950 mu with grain. In 1960, the total grain output was 168,500 kilograms, and the average yield per mu was 3.44 kilograms, even less than the seeds sowed.  As a result, the grassland in Jiuzhi country suffered serious damage. Many people sent to convert wasteland for grain production died miserably, including more than 1,000 of the Henan immigrants.

Shortly after the inspection team left Jiuzhi County, Guo × × was dismissed from the post of county party secretary. By the spring and summer of 1962, the main leaders of the prefecture and county party committees in Qinghai’s pastoral region and of the political and legal organs, especially the leaders of the Public Security organs, were mostly dismissed, some were subject to party or governmental discipline, and judicial punishment. A large number of false and wrongfully brought cases were vindicated. Innocent people in custody, including more than 18,000 in reform-through-labor farms, were released. This was one of the main achievements in the implementation of the Summary and is worth documenting.


Editor: Yang Jisheng (Author of Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962)

Yanhuang Chunqiu. No. 7, 2013.  

Document 1 
Document 3
Document 4
Document 5
Document 6


[1] Short form for The General Line for Socialist Construction with the slogan “Go all out, aim high, and build socialism with greater, faster, better, and more economical results" as its content.

[2] Referring to the policy of “no imprisonment, no struggling, no sentencing, no execution” for surrendering rebels. 

[3] Also known as “Three Red Banners” consisted of the General Line for Socialist Construction, the Great Leap Forward and the People’s Communes.

[4] Tibetan: Yulshul, Golok, Tsolho, Malho, Tsojang, Tsonub. 

[5] Tibetan: Tsigortang.

[6] Referring to “landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries and evildoers”. They were considered to be “class enemies”, and were forced to live under surveillance with restrictions on movement. 

[7] Nangqian (Chi.), Nangchen (Tib.).

[8] (Tib.) Tsekhok

[9] The author started his career in Qinghai Provincial Public Security Bureau.

[10] Tib) Dzogen Rawa.

[11] (Tib.) Kyegudo.

[12] According to Yushu Zhouzhi (Gazetteer of Yushu Prefecture), the first secretary of CCP Yushu prefecture Committee was Shen Ling (s沈岭), who held the position till April, 1962. See  Yushu zhouzhi. Yushu Zangzu zizhizhou zhi bianzuan weiyuanhui. Xi'an Shi: Sanqin ch banshe. 2005.  Vol. 1,  p.496.

[13] Tib: Chikdril.

[14] Tib: Khangsar.

[15] At the time  secretary of CCP Jiuzhi County committee was Guo Hongchun (郭洪春). See Juizhi xianzhi, Compiled by Jiuzhi Xianzhi bianzuan weiyuanhui. Xi'an Shi: Sanqin chubanshe, 2005. p.21.

[16] Tib: Palyul.

[17] About 18529 acres.

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