Talk:Soviet invasion of Manchuria/Events in Manchuria, 1945-47

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Events in Manchuria, 1945-47[edit]

F. C. JONES (1949) "Manchuria since 1931", Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, Oxford University Press
CHAPTER XII - Events in Manchuria, 1945-47

(F. C. JONES M.A. (Bristol), Ph.D. (Harvard), Lecturer in History, University of Bristol - written 1947-48)

(pdf copy of complete book - 274 pages - online at: )

Pp 224-5

Russian sources declare that the entry of their troops into the Manchurian cities was greeted with enthusiasm by the Chinese inhabitants and this may well have been the case, since the Chinese as a whole had never willingly accepted Japanese domination. But the excesses of the Russian troops soon produced a very different feeling. It appears to be the custom of Russian commanders to allow full license to their soldiery for, at any rate, the first few days after their entry into a conquered city, whether it be on enemy, or enemy-occupied soil. Foreigners in Mukden at the time of the Russian occupation described the reign of terror which ensued.[1] British and American correspondents who visited Manchuria in late 1945 and in 1946, testified to the terror with which the Soviet troops still inspired the inhabitants; the newspaper men spoke of women hiding from them until assured that they were not Russians, and of others disguised as boys, or with blackened faces. In this there was no difference between the various nationalities.[2] ‘Ta pi tzu pu hao’—the big noses (Russians) are no good— was a frequent Chinese comment. The general fear and hatred aroused by the conduct of the Soviet troops may come to have important political consequences in the future. One correspondent who visited Mukden in 1946 declared that the Russians were more disliked than even the Japanese had been, since the Japanese had after all come to build up Manchuria, the Russians only to destroy.[3]

The Russians, however, were not responsible for all the looting. As happened elsewhere, for example at Hong Kong in 1941, a great deal of damage was done by the Chinese mob, which seized , the opportunity to strip houses and factories for loot and firewood, leaving many of them a gutted shell. In some cases this happened after the Japanese retreated and before the Russian occupation; in others it took place in conjunction with Russian pillaging.

Meanwhile, on 14 August 1945, a treaty of friendship and alliance supplemented by four subsidiary agreements and two exchanges of notes, had been concluded in Moscow between the Soviet Union and China. The stipulations regarding Manchuria were, firstly, that the Port Arthur naval base area should be jointly used by the U.S.S.R. and China for a period of thirty years, the actual defence to be entrusted to the Soviet Union, and the military administration to be in the hands of a Sino-Soviet Military Commission of five, including three Soviet representatives,

  • [1] Christian Science Monitor, 12 October 1945. Japanese armies were guilty of appalling excesses, both in China and elsewhere, and had the Russians dealt harshly with only Japanese nationals in Manchuria this would have appeared as just retribution. But the indiscriminate looting and raping inflicted upon the unoffending Chinese by the Russians naturally aroused the keenest indignation.
  • [2] The Scotsman, 27 and 31 December 1945; Chicago Daily News, 16 March 1946.
  • [3] A. T. Steele, in New York Herald Tribune, 9 March 1946.
Pp 227-9

The Chinese Government, which was aware that, in view of the Yalta agreement, it had no option but to yield to the Soviet demands, accepted the Treaty of Moscow with a good grace, doubtless hoping to find some compensation in the Soviet treaty obligation to respect Chinese sovereignty and to abstain from intervention in Chinese internal affairs. The servitudes imposed in respect of Manchuria, while irksome, especially to a régime which had long striven for the abrogation of foreign special rights and privileges throughout China, left China the undisputed sovereign over nearly all of the north-east and did not of themselves imply Soviet domination of its economic life. Consequently, the favourable Chinese Press comment on the Treaty at the time of its publication, although undoubtedly caused by official prompting, need not be taken as completely insincere.

But very bitter feelings were soon aroused when it became known that the Soviet Government, in a memorandum to China of 21 January 1946, declared that it regarded as its war booty all Japanese enterprises in Manchuria which had rendered services to the Japanese Army, and that in pursuance of this principle the Soviet occupation authorities in Manchuria were removing large quantities of industrial equipment to the Soviet Union. In reply to the identical notes concerning the disposition of Japanese external assets sent by the United States Government on 9 February 1946 to the Soviet and Chinese Governments, the latter Government declared that the Soviet claim was considered ‘as far exceeding the scope of war booty as generally recognized by international law and international usage’.[l] These protests were disregarded by the Soviet Government.

The motives of the Russians in so acting were considered to be the desire to recoup themselves for their own catastrophic losses in industrial equipment in consequence of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, and to strike a crippling blow at Manchurian industrial potential. They knew that it had been built up by the Japanese Kwantung Army primarily to serve that force in a war against the Soviet Union and they apparently suspected that it might again be so used, particularly if China received American aid in the rehabilitation and technical direction of her industries. This may serve to explain, though not to excuse, the Soviet action.

It is incorrect to speak of the stripping of Manchurian industries by the Russians. Apart from the physical impossibility of such a task, the Russians were selective in their removals. They appear, however, to have wantonly destroyed a certain amount of what they did not, or could not, take away, while by the removal of key parts they paralysed much of the equipment which they left intact. The most comprehensive estimate of the effect upon the Manchurian industrial structure was that made by Mr Edwin Pauley, the United States Reparations Commissioner, who paid a visit to Manchuria in June 1946, and submitted a Report to President Truman. The Report states that ‘the Soviets did not take everything. They concentrated on certain categories of supplies, machinery and equipment. In addition to taking stockpiles and certain complete industrial installations, the Soviets took by far the larger part of all functioning power-generating and transforming equipment, electric motors, experimental plants, laboratories and hospitals. In machine-tools, they took only the newest and best, leaving antiquated tools behind.’[2] The Report furthermore states that: ‘How much of the wrecked condition is a direct result of Soviet removals and how much may be ascribed to pillage, civil war, and indirect consequences of the Soviet occupation cannot be accurately determined.’ Mr Everett D. Hawkins, who in 1946 was Director of the Mukden Office of the U.S. Information Service, says that ‘The general belief is that the Japanese had to cannibalize a certain number of their machines towards the close of the war to keep certain plants going, that the small tools, equipment and materials which are being sold in some of the black “open” markets in Mukden were looted by the Chinese, but that the generators and heavy equipment were systematically taken by the Soviets, put in railroad cars and sent up north, probably to Siberia.’[3]

  • [1] D. H. Lew, ‘Manchurian Booty and International Law’, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 40, No. 3, July 1946, p. 584.
  • [2] New York Times, 14 December 1946.
  • [3] E. D. Hawkins, ‘Manchuria’s Post-war Economy,’ Far Eastern Survey, Vol. XVI, No.3 , 12 February 1947, p. 35.