What Xinjiang Tells Us about the Early History of the Cold War

An advanced copy of an article that I wrote for Cold War History, “To Die on the Steppe: Sino-Soviet-American Relations and the Cold War in Chinese Central Asia, 1944–1952,” was posted online yesterday.

I am pasting below the abstract in English and Chinese:

Through a narrative retelling of a little known but incredible journey from Xinjiang to New York City made by a group of ethnic Russians in the mid-twentieth century, this article shows how some of the earliest and most poignant manifestations of the Cold War, including nuclear rivalry and espionage, were made evident in Chinese Central Asia. Wrapped up within an intense competition for resources, information, and influence between the United States, the Soviet Union, and two Chinese regimes, the Russians at the heart of this article reveal how the Cold War was a truly global conflict which was intimately experienced by ordinary peoples and often times in the places most far removed. This episode is furthermore a reminder that even if the Cold War did produce stability at the macro-level, the outcomes of the strategic rivalry and competition between the Soviet Union and the United States were violent and tragic, not necessarily or exclusively for these countries but especially for their allies and accomplices.

通过重述一群中国俄罗斯族人(中国共产党政府称其为“白俄卫队”)在20世纪中期从新疆前往纽约的鲜为人知、且难以置信的历史,本文重现了冷战早期发生的一些凄楚往事,证实了以核竞争和间谍活动为主要内容的冷战曾在新疆地区发生。美、苏、国、共围绕资源、信息和影响力展开的紧张竞争,对俄罗斯族人命运造成的改变,揭示了冷战如何在全球范围内发生影响,并切实影响到普通民众、乃至边远地区。而且,文章也提醒我们,尽管冷战确实在宏观层面促成了稳定结构,但美苏之间战略对抗和竞争的结果仍充满暴力和悲剧,这种影响不只局限于对抗双方,也波及他们的盟友。除了上述宽泛的主题外,文章还提供了一些新疆“和平解放”时期的新证据,包括中央情报局特工马克南末期的情报、乌斯满和尧乐博斯的活动、以及人民解放军的“剿匪”运动。文章材料来源主要包括中央情报局档案、俄罗斯族人的口述史、人民解放军的出版报告、以及来自中国(包括台湾)的档案材料。

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