G. Tchitcherin

On the Far Eastern Question

(16 November 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 99, 16 November 1922, pp. 785–787.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive

We take from the Moscow Pravda the following observations of Comrade Tchitcherin. In the meantime the Red Troops of the Far Eastern Republic have marched into Vladivostok.


We welcome the evacuation of the coastland and Vladivostok. We have long expected this. Of all the states that took part in the intervention it was Japan who began it first, and she was the last to relinquish her policy.

We wanted to conclude a formal treaty with Japan, in conformity with our former policy, like the one we have already concluded with many European states, but we have not succeeded until now. The negotiations begun in Dairen could not achieve any results because the imperialist appetite of Japan was so great that we were unable to come to an understanding. The main drawback was due to Japan's desire to retain the Northern part of the Isle of Sakhalin, and to support their demands they brought up a number of arguments. But the real intention of the Japanese government is to annex the Isle of Sakhalin which means the complete domination of the navigation on the river Amur, the island in question being so near to the continent, and especially to the mouth of the Amur. With their control over the mouth of this most important river, entire Siberia would be under the influence of Japan. To this, we could under no circumstances agree, and so long as the Japanese government persists in this grab policy, there will be no basis for an agreement; and the situation will constitute a source of conflict.

The evacuation of the coastland does not therefore entirely exhaust the problem, until the question of North Sakhalin is not settled. None the less we greet the evacuation of the coastland. It came as the result of strong agitation and pressure on the part of the Japanese bourgeoisie against the present dominant military clique, and the supporters of the evacuation policy took advantage of the financial difficulties of the Japanese government. These difficulties also made it easier for diplomatic pressure to be felt, and especially the pressure of the American government which is apprehensive about the expansion of Japan on the continent, because it is also anxious to establish economic relations with Siberia.

The latest events in China, the downfall of Tchansolin, friendly to Japan, and the strengthening of the supporters of China’s national policy, especially Ubei-Fu, has greatly complicated Japan’s position in China. The evacuation of the Eastern Coast does not necessarily mean that Japan renounces her North Manchurian policy. She is strengthening her garrisons there, supporting Tchansolin, and concentrating the white Guards. The evacuation of the Coastland is only one step in the direction of establishing peaceful relations in the Far-Fast, but it is a step forward nevertheless.

The withdrawal of the Japanese troops from Vladivostok is accompanied by such dreadful events that it would be impossible to neglect them at any future negotiations. By its threats to renew military activities, the Japanese military staff compelled the National Revolutionary Army to withdraw to the railway station Ugolna. At the same time the Japanese foreign office threatened to stop the evacuation of the city if the National Revolutionary Army advanced and if there should be a clash with the Japanese troops. Today the National Revolutionary Army is stationed about twenty six miles from Vladivostok. In the meantime, in the city itself unheard-of plundering is going on with the permission and participation of the Japanese. Other governments, and especially America interested in safeguarding the lives and property of their citizens demanded guarantees from the National Revolutionary Army. The American government was particularly interested in the safety of its great stocks of goods stored in that city.

The Soviet Government and the government of the Far Eastern Republic guaranteed the safety of the foreigners and foreign property, but can in no way be held responsible for what has happened there, before the arrival of the Russian troops. We can only state that Vladivostok is at present in the hands of a gang of robbers.

Other governments are in part to blame for not interfering with Japanese misconduct in Vladivostok.

The situation in Vladivostok will become clearer when we compare it with what took place at the evacuation of Nikolayevsk on the Amur by the Japanese. At the evacuation of Nikolayevsk the following happened: From the fortress Tchniri the Japanese carried away an immense quantity of metals. They tore up the tracks and carried them away. with them. The amount of metal they have stolen reaches about 500,000 puds. All the armour-plating, bolts and screws were taken from the artillery shops. Special laborers were assigned to remove the zinc-cupola. They also took away the radio-station, four Russian gunboats and one steamship, besides placing obstacles in the Amur River so as to interfere with the movement of the ships.

The following information is thus far available about the destruction of Vladivostok: The cellar of pier No. 8 in which military equipments were stored was completely destroyed. Shortly afterwards, the neighboring cellar containing war materials shared the same fate. The Japanese destroyed all the forests along the coast. Almost all the batteries were either destroyed or put out of commission. All the loot from Vladivostok was removed to Manchuria and was carried on special trains guarded by the Tchansolin troops. Into Tchansolin’s hands fell also a considerable quantity of ammunition. But the actual story of the despoliation of Vladivostok is yet to be told after the Russian troops enter the city.

This policy of the Japanese is certainly a short-sighted one, as they failed to realize that Soviet Russia and its ally, the Far Eastern Republic are growing stronger and more consolidated every day, and that such conduct on the part of the Japanese will render the future treaty, – in which the Japanese are clearly interested – more difficult The Japanese statesmen cannot shut their eyes to the fact that the relations between Soviet Russia and China are developing very quickly and successfully.

Soviet Russia and China are natural allies, and the future will strengthen this association. Chinese public opinion realizes that Soviet Russia has no designs whatever against the political and economic independence of China. Soviet Russia is the only great power that is ready to support the full independence of China and her independent industrial development. Soviet Russia is eager to see China triumph in her struggle against foreign domination and intervention, and against the despotic Governor-Generals who are acting as absolute dictators over some provinces, dividing China among themselves.

Chinese public opinion also knows that Soviet Russia is very sympathetic to the aspirations of the Chinese people to establish a united democratic China. The first preliminary draft of a treaty with China has already been completed by Comrade Pajkes. Since the arrival of Comrade Joffe as plenipotentiary representative in Peking, friendly relations between China and Soviet Russia have made considerable progress, and the conclusion of a treaty between the two states is a question of the near future.

Last updated on 2 January 2021