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Features of the cooperative movement among the Chinese migrants in the Soviet Far East (1920-1930th)

o. V. Zalesskaya


Work is presented kvafedry Sinology of the Blagoveshchensk state pedagogical university.

In line with the national policy of the Soviet state the special role was given to the Chinese migrants in the Soviet Far East as to ethnic minority. Expansion among the Chinese migrants of the cooperative movement was one of ways of integration of this ethnic minority into the Soviet society. In article the author in detail considers cooperation forms among the Chinese workers, characterizes features of development of the cooperative movement among the Chinese migrants, analyzes a cooperation role in the course of integration of the Chinese migrants into social and economic life of the Soviet Far East.

O. Zalesskaya


Chinese migrants as a national minority played a special role in the national policy of the Soviet state in the Far East. One of ways of this national minority’s integration into the Soviet society was the cooperative movement expansion among them. The author of the article considers in detail the forms of Chinese workers’ cooperation, characterizes the features of the cooperative movement's development among Chinese migrants, analyses the role of cooperation in Chinese migrants’ integration into the social and economic life of the Soviet Far East.

Presence of the Chinese diaspora was peculiar feature of social and economic development of the Far East region in the 1920-1930th. The Chinese migrants in the Far East of Russia (their after October, 1917 included "ethnic minorities" in community) were engaged in various industries. In line with the national policy pursued by the Soviet state proclaiming a problem of providing to all ethnic minorities and the nations in the USSR of legal and economic equality with the prospect of internationalization of spiritual and economic life of the nations and formation of new historical community "the Soviet people", special and constant attention from regional structures of the power was paid to the Chinese migrants.

Cooperation of the Chinese workers was one of components of process of integration of the Chinese migrants into social and economic life of edge. In the conditions of a special geopolitical situation in the Far East region of cooperation the function of association and involvement of the Chinese migrants in socialist construction was taken away that fully answered the purposes and problems of the Soviet national policy.

In this article the author, using an array of earlier not published archive materials, sought to light the new facts in life of the Chinese diaspora in the Soviet Far East, to show in a complex one of the parties

its activity - the cooperative movement among the Chinese workers.

Mass association of the Chinese workers for further collective business began in the Far East with sulfurs. the 1920th. The main forms of cooperation of the Chinese migrants were agricultural, housing, trade, consumer.

Agricultural cooperation of Chinese was constructed in the settled practice of delivery by it for rent of the land plots for cultivation and the subsequent realization of vegetables in the markets of the Russian Far East. According to Article 9th of the Land code of RSFSR the earth was provided to foreigners as rent on a contract basis and could be assigned to them upon transition to the Soviet nationality. So, for a garden season of 1925/26 within Chita to Chinese it was leased for cultivation of vegetables of 103 garden sites, for a season of 1926/27 - already 150 sites at which 500 people [14, worked as 10. L. l. 6-11]. Chinese gardeners were not organized in artel yet, but through special representatives were connected with industrial credit association "Kustar" which carried out supply of vegetables to the Defense Ministries and the civil organizations of the city and also realized vegetables on markets of Chita at retail [11, 26. L. l. 58-59].

In 1929 in the Chita district there were already 6 artels of gardeners-vostochni-kov where Chinese and Koreans in common worked, - Moscow, "Cantonese commune", "Free China", Vostochnik, "International", "on March 1" [8, 29. L. 14 about]. (Bush-promsoyuza) about 170 gardeners were members of the cottage industry union. Members of artels took part in public life of edge: on the state loan "The first year of the second five-years period" artels handed over more than 31 thousand rubles, in favor of the Chinese red guerrillas - more than 1 thousand rubles; 640 rub were collected on construction of the Maxim Gorky aircraft [13, 15. L. 28].

In 1933 the total area of crops in the above-stated artels was 180.5 hectares, there are new Chinese artels - "The Chinese commune", "Freedom" [8, 29. L. 19]. Responsibility for drawing up plans of crops of garden cultures by artels was conferred on the regional union of consumer societies (Kraypotrebsoyuz). Crops of beans were obligatory, haricots, garlic, a chumiza, the Chinese cabbage, corn and other crops necessary for food I rub-dyashchikhsya-vostochnikov. Increase in acreage was interfered by that circumstance, that the municipal economy of Chita provided every year to artels for rent the new land plots that made impossible construction of constant agricultural buildings and forced artels to wander from one place on another [13, 15. L. 29].

The union of east workers-gardeners of Chita (financed as office of the Union of agricultural and forest workers of the USSR) which in 1926 united 200 people of Chinese of Chita and the Chita district was created. On balance of the union there was always money - from 200 to 600 rub. In working committee of the union for the account of membership fees the fund of support of the unemployed and cash desk of mutual aid was organized. The union was engaged in insurance of workers, assisted in the conclusion of employment contracts and the solution of various issues of labor protection, distributed among gardeners the Rabochy Put newspaper in Chinese, naprav-for free

lyal illiterate in likpunkta [14, 10. L. l. 15-18].

In January, 1930 fruit and vegetable artels near Khabarovsk were created - of Blyukher, "The Cantonese commune" and of Karl Marx which Chinese entered only. These artels in the first year of the existence made a powerful contribution to supply of workers of edge with vegetables - the cultivated area of these artels in 1930 was 234 ga*.

Also such forms of cooperation as consumer and housing developed. Distributors of food and industrial products for east workers were created. In the fall of 1926 such distributor in Vladivostok was open (on Semenovskaya Street). The trade turnover of the distributor serving and the Russian buyers, reached 3500 rub in month. But supply with the necessary goods for the Chinese migrants was conducted poorly, there were only a powder and cologne much [2, 47. L. 54]. In the Chita district the room of the distributor was not adapted for trade in winter time, necessary for east working goods the minimum quantity [13, was delivered by 15. L. 19]. On the Suchansky mine for July 1, 1930 of members of consumer cooperation of vostochnik was 1555 persons. However the dining rooms and shops intended especially for east workers were absent [14, 419. L. 14].

Service of ethnic minorities of edge was one of the areas of work of housing cooperation of the Far East region (DVK). Housing cooperation of DVK was formed in 1926 when a number of housing cooperatives in the cities and at the enterprises was organized. In March, 1926 in Chita at the Chinese section of the gubprofsovet the housing association East Co-operator was founded, but work on involvement of east workers in housing cooperative was conducted poorly [15, 3. L. 53].

By January 1, 1931 the Chinese housing and joint-stock cooperative associations (ZHAKTY) were founded: in Vladivostok - "Improvement of life" (had near

3500 sq.m of living space), in Blagoveshchensk - "The Chinese quarter" (about 1500 sq.m of living space). Also there was a considerable shift in the field of involvement of ethnic minorities in administrative and control personnel of a zhilkooperation. If by the beginning 1928 as a part of administrative personnel ZHAKTOV of ethnic minorities was practically not, then for January 1, 1931 as a part of boards 20 vostochnik, in audit commission - 12, in regional council of the zhilkoope-radio set - 2 were already registered. As for cultural and educational work, the zhilkooperation of edge had two red corners in the Chinese and Korean cooperatives in Vladivostok and in the same place two kindergartens on 85 children. The special attention to service of ethnic minorities was paid in 1930, the directive on prevention of the race hatred in veins cooperation between Europeans and vostochnik was given. Since 1931 the accounting of a condition of questions of cooperation of ethnic minorities, a housing question among them, their cultural and community service was entered. For east workers housing construction for the sum of 250 thousand rubles was carried out (on 150 thousand rubles on Suchana and on 100 thousand rubles to Nicole - ske - Ussuriysk). 10 thousand rubles were released on the kindergarten device for children of east workers in Vladivostok and the playground in Blagoveshchensk [16, 1744. L. l. 111-111 about].

The Central section of working cooperation (CRK) at the Central union of consumer societies of the USSR (Centrosoyuz) was the coordinating center of working cooperation in the Soviet Russia. In the Far East the offices of CRK at provinces and regional Centrosoyuzakh were created after abolition of the Far East republic (DVR). For optimization of work among the Chinese workers of edge the Chinese instructors were entered into states of offices of CRK. In addition, Chinese and Koreans, in view of coverage cooperation of the Chinese and Korean migrants, worked in the device CRK at various positions. In 1930 on full-time employment in the Vladivostok CRK 40 people of Chinese and Koreans and 1 Chinese were registered

instructor. In total the same year in the shops and table CRK of the Vladivostok district serving east workers there were 26 Chinese, 8 Koreans and 129 Russians [3, 364. L. 13].

Also credit cooperation among the Chinese migrants developed. In the device of the Khabarovsk CRK for January 1, 1930 there were 1343 people of shareholders-vostochnikov, by July 1 of the same year - 1555 persons. East workers possessed the credits on conditions, identical with Russians.

Since the end of the 19th century in the Far East of Russia the Chinese migrants organized the small and medium-sized handicraft enterprises. Association of Chinese handicraftsmen became a task of the created cottage industry unions in the Far East region in the 1920-1930th

The Chita regional union of kustarnopromyslovy cooperatives (raykustprom-union) was organized in 1925. In 1928 the Chita raykustpromsoyuz included the following Chinese trade artels: artels of shoemakers of Sun Yat Sen, "Juan-sin gunchan", "Tunjyan kunchan", Kuomintang, "the 1st of May"; pimokatny artels "Community", "Canton", "East worker", "East", "Rising", "East"; artel of tailors "Shanks gunchan" **. In total in above-mentioned artels there were about 200 people, the routine of workers [12, 13 was rather strong. L. l. 597-597 about]. In total for October 1, 1928 the union united 60 artels with total 854 people [9, 807. L. 13]. It is not possible to count total number of Chinese in artels as in the Chinese artels also Russians worked. Chinese were included also into other artels of a kustpromsoyuz.

The Buryato-Mongolsky trade credit and cooperative union (Burprom-kredsoyuz) which is in Verkhneudinsk in 1929 included 10 Chinese artels with a number of organized workers more 100th persons. Among workers - members of artels of Burpromkredsoyuz - it was conducted the kultprosvetra-boat: classes in an educational program were given, supplied workers with literature in Chinese [9, 796. L. 17].

In March, 1926 the bush-promsoyuz in the Vladivostok district was organized. In 26 associations ("Builder", "The red shoemaker", etc.) 800 people, including 432 Chinese united. Salary in such artels at Chinese builders was 70-75 rub, shoemakers have 50-55 rub. Members of artels were not captured by cultural and educational work, only in association of builders the red corner in which, however, there was no literature was organized. In case of accidents on production by the worker the insurance was not paid [1, 82. L. l. 75-76].

In 1926 the Chinese workers made 60.6% of all workers occupied in the kustarnoremeslenny industry of edge. In 1927 in DVK there were 731 handicraft enterprises with total number of east working 1473 people [4, 29. L. 183]. In October, 1929 in Blagoveshchensk the city conference of the Chinese handicraftsmen at which the purposes and problems of cooperation [4, were considered by 99 was held. L. l. 108-110].

Association of the Chinese workers did not get rid of such form of relations of production between the Chinese migrants as institute of contractors, or "starshinok". Starshinka, knowing Russian, were a link between workers and employers and, without being occupied on production, got paid 10-15% of each worker. With the advent of artels of "starshinka" began to be called "the senior group leaders", but the essence of their activity remained the same. The Chinese workers, because of ignorance of Russian and the general political illiteracy, often did not understand the purposes and problems of cooperation (a part of the Chinese workers perceived cooperation as a certain type of tax, another - as a form of labor union) therefore directed all process of activity of artel "starshinka", it supported continuous communications with kustpromsoyuzy.

At a meeting of the Chinese commission at the advocacy department (AD) of the Vladivostok district committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks) of January 12, 1928 before department of work -

la the task to pay special attention to work of handicraft workshops is set. The Chinese safety inspectors had to try to obtain from owners of private enterprises of following to the established norms in questions of duration of the working day, granting a holiday, days of rest, salary payment, observance of sanitary conditions and safety in workplaces. It was also decided to develop a cultural and educational work among handicraftsmen (first of all, on elimination of illiteracy) and to accelerate the organization of the Chinese section at labor exchange [1, 172. L l. 2-3].

As of October 1, 1929, in industrial cooperation DVK was: the Russian - 2674 people (46.8%), Chinese-2563 people (44.8%), Koreans - 257 people (4.5%), other - 220 people (3.9%). The greatest number of Chinese handicraftsmen was engaged tanning (475 people), sewing and knitted (404 people) and woodworking (339 people) in crafts. At presidium of board of the Far East Regional Council of Industrial Cooperation (FERCIC) the national bureau which part five people were was created on April 21, 1929: the chairman - the board member (Russian), three Chinese - natsmenrabota instructor and one Korean worker. Among priorities of activity of national bureau were: studying economic, geographical and living conditions and features of ethnic minorities of edge and a condition of cooperative work in natsrayo-na, assistance to development of a promkooperation in natsrayona and among ethnic minorities, the organization there are kultprosvetrabota among ethnic minorities and their familiarizing with socialist construction, increase in material and cultural level and consumer services of ethnic minorities, fight against chauvinism, increase in rates of cooperation of ethnic men ***.

It should be noted that national bureaus were urged to play a significant role in the solution of a problem of involvement of ethnic men in the system of a promkooperation. National bureaus were organized at presidiums of board of kraypromsove-t or oblpromsoveta in those regions and about -

lastyakh where ethnic minorities were not united in an administrative unit (the ASSR, the autonomous area or areas). The main forms of activity of national bureau were: the organization of cultural events and checks of the household standard of living of east workers by forces of instructors, rendering financial and technical assistance in development of crafts, preparation of the managerial personnel from ethnic minorities [6, 8. L. l. 24-26].

In 1931 in DVK there were about 3 thousand Chinese migrants occupied in cottage industry that made 30% of all handicraftsmen of edge [1, 82. L. 108]. The bulk of the Chinese handicraftsmen was concentrated in the cities - Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk, Khabarovsk, Nikolske-Ussuriysk, etc. Kustar worked in various industries - as builders, lesrabochy, derevoobdelochnik, skinners, trikotazhnik, food industry workers, hairdressers, laundresses, etc. of 40% of the Chinese handicraftsmen worked together with the Russian or other nationalities in the mixed international artels, and about 60% made the independent Chinese artels which were engaged is almost exclusive shoemaking [5, 598. L. 66]. In the resolution of the East Siberian regional committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks) of March 6, 1931 it was noted that "attraction in artel of Koreans and Chinese has large political value", the kraykustpromsoyuz was recommended to allocate specially partrabotnik on involvement of ethnic minorities in artels and to establish priority supply of natsmenovsky artels with raw materials [10, 7. L. 81]. Till December 1, 1932 the union needed to provide the concrete plan for the organization of the new handicraft enterprises with participation of east workers. Kraysnab had to include necessary amount of tin, tools, machines, tin, nails, sheet iron, etc. for the centralized supply of east workers in the plan for 1933 [16, 1769. L. l. 42-46].

However in spite of the fact that at regional meetings and party conferences serious significance, development handicraft was attached to cooperation of Chinese handicraftsmen

producers' cooperation among the Chinese migrants went slowly. The material resources of artels were weak. Providing members of cooperatives with dining rooms and hostels was unsatisfactory, salary was very low, the Chinese workers were supplied with consumables by the residual principle. So, the Chinese artel Mao Tszedun organized on January 10, 1935 united 48 people - shoemakers, tailors, photographers, prachechnik. The newly established artel had no room therefore members of artel worked at home. Accounting records were not kept, supply of artel with raw materials [15, 40 was unsatisfactory. L. l. 62-63].

Political-education work was not adjusted. Though in 1930 50% of list of workers of a kustprom were made by Chinese and Koreans, kustpromsoyuz on the kultprosvetra-boat from them distinguished only 2,938 rub (13%). Other 20,247 rub (87%) were spent for educational work among Russians. Reduction of number of Chinese handicraftsmen in DVK was noted: if in their 1931 3202 people, then in 1932 - already 2374 people [16, were registered as 1770. L. 20].

Nevertheless, in the 1930th the cooperation of the Chinese migrants continued to develop. Various forms of cooperation continued to exist. The Chinese trade and garden artels functioned at the mines. In total in 1936 in national artels of DVK there were 6922 people, from them 776 Chinese. In Primorsk the oblprom-union in 1935 there were 563 member Chinese of artel, in the Amur oblpromsoyuz-75, in Khabarovsk - 56, in Ussuriysk - 29, in Nikolaev - on - Cupid - 24, in Aleksandrovsk - on - Sakhalin - 10, in Okha-na-Sakhaline-9, in a promsoyuza of the Jewish Autonomous Region - 7. In artels the Stakhanov movement developed. In 1936 in artels of the Khabarovsk oblpromsoyuz Kustar and Utilshchik, artels "East life" of the Seaside oblpromsoyuz, artel of "Koopremont" of the Amur oblpromsoyuz worked Chinese Stakhanovites in total about 40 people [6, 26. L. 44. L. 46].

Despite a certain contribution to edge economy, supply of the population in the conditions of the observed deficiency of goods rather cheap products and manufactured goods of own production and also rendering household services to the population, by January 1, 1937 most national artels were liquidated. In the Primoblprom-union from the Chinese artels functioned only "East life", "The red mechanic", Remmash, "A red star", in the Khabarovsk oblpromsoyuz from the Chinese artels remained Kustar, Utilshchik, "The Khabarovsk photographer". Among the reasons of liquidation of artels were: maintaining "double" accounts department, speculation in goods, lack of national passports and residence permits at members of artel. Likpunkta of latinizirovanny Chinese, table and red corners for members of artels were not organized, wall newspapers for artelshchik were not issued. Members of artels often did not observe labor discipline, were engaged in an opiyekureniye. The planning department of Primoblpromsoyuz, for example, obviously underestimated when planning figure of performance of each city artel by 70-80%, as a result city artels were ahead of schedule for 200-500%, besides, the wide field for opened

frauds with the public funds allocated for financing of artels. About 100 people from 12 Chinese artels were prosecuted. In 1937 the number of Chinese in national artels of edge decreases to 574 people (from total number of members of artels 7666 people) [6, 26. L. 29, 47]. Finally cooperative movement among the Chinese workers was curtailed in 1938 from the beginning of repressions against the Chinese migrants into DVK.

So, in the 1920-1930th the cooperation of the Chinese workers in the Soviet Far East received universal distribution. Before cooperation as the making system of the public directive administration, the task of streamlining and organization of labor of the Chinese migrants was set. Despite certain difficulties and shortcomings of process of cooperation of the Chinese migrants, cooperation became a form of nationalization, habitual for them, distributions and productions. Involvement of the Chinese workers in cooperatives strengthened their relations with the trade-union movement, promoted association of the Chinese migrants, their fastest integration into social and economic life of the Soviet Far East, closer interaction with the Russian population.

* Almost each member of artel had in dependence a family in China. Workers of these artels filed a petition for consideration of a question of monthly transfer of their money to China. Because of prohibition of money transfer by the worker of artels (at simultaneous permission of similar transfer of the state and cooperative enterprises by the Chinese worker) families starved and were on the verge of poverty. In a year from 300 people of members of artel there were only 138 people - the others passed to work for the state enterprises or went abroad.

** In 1929 as a result of merge of 6 pimokatny artels the artel "Rising" in which there were 160 Chinese and 90 Russians was formed, it became one of the largest artels of the kustprom-union. In artel "Rising" by instructors 4 Chinese and 3 Russians worked.

*** By January 1, 1931 the quantity of vostochnik in a promkooperation of DVK decreased from 2820 to 2715 persons. The lack of an opportunity to make money transfers of salary abroad, to China was one of the main reasons of the observed routine, according to handicraftsmen.


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2. State Archive of Khabarovsk Krai (SAKK). F.P-2. Op. 2.
3. GAHK. F.P-2. Op. 4.
4. GAHK. F.P-2. Op. 11.
5. GAHK. F.P-44. Op. 1.
6. GAHK. F.P-688. Op. 1.
7. GAHK. F.P-1508. Op. 1.
8. State Archive of the Chita Region (SACR). F.P-1. Op. 1.
9. GAChO. F.P-75. Op. 1.
10. GAChO. F.P-85. Op. 1.
11. GAChO. F P-137. Op. 1.
12. GAChO. F P-204. Op. 1.
13. GAChO. F P-590. Op. 1.
14. GAChO. F.P-1164. Op. 1.
15. GAChO. F P-1491. Op. 2.
16. Russian state historical archive of the Far East (RGIA DV). F.R-2413. Op. 4.
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