Alma-Ata-Urumqi railway in 1936

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sarhang
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Alma-Ata-Urumqi railway in 1936

Post by sarhang » 06 Mar 2014 12:28

I've stumbled upon a summer 1936 news report, with a reference to a Japanese news agency, stating that a railway linking Soviet Alma-Ata to Urimqi was all but completed, the inauguration due on the 1 of July of that year. Such a railway line is conspicuously absent from the Soviet maps of 1970-80s. It would be interesting to know if the report was pure propaganda, or such a line was indeed constructed and the rails subsequently removed. And in the latter case, was it narrow gauge or Russian 1524 mm?

Stephen_Rynerson
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Re: Alma-Ata-Urumqi railway in 1936

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 06 Mar 2014 15:54

Sarhang, it seems unlikely to me that such a rail connection was built. I've been reading extensively about Xinjiang in the 1930s and 1940s lately, and I've seen no reference to any rail construction in the province during that period by any party. That said, there was an agreement entered into between Sovinstorg and the Xinjiang provincial trading company in May 1935 that provided assistance for highway construction through Xijiang. When completed in July 1937, the highway ran from Khorgos to Urumqi and on to Hami.

Here are some links for on-line sources with information about the agreement, roadway, and transportation through Xinjiang (I can post some cites to other books later, but I'm not at home right now):

http://books.google.com/books?id=RE2lAA ... 36&f=false

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1 ... 70,1980295

http://taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xItem=152094&CtNode=124

http://images.library.wisc.edu/FRUS/EFa ... .i0011.pdf

That said, given the extent of Soviet economic penetration into Xinjiang starting in the mid 1930s, I would not be surprised if the Soviet government undertook some planning for construction of a rail line into the province and probably discussed it with Xinjiang provincial authorities (the Xinjiang governor, Sheng Shicai was so pro-Soviet that he was formally granted membership in the Soviet Communist Party), but since it appears from that last series of documents I linked to that in 1942 it was still necessary to use trucks even to go from Alma Ata to the Chinese border and there's no mention of possible rail shipping, I think it's very unlikely that anything more than survey work for rail construction could have been completed.

sarhang
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Re: Alma-Ata-Urumqi railway in 1936

Post by sarhang » 06 Mar 2014 19:51

Thank you, Stephen_Rynerson.
In fact, my source is a Manchou-Di-Go paper alarmed with the Soviet activities in Sinkiang and Outer Mongolia, who perhaps had decided that a rumour would fit in with other reports.
Nevertheless, it would be interesting to note that the same source speaks of a railway line from the USSR to Kashghar due for completion in the March of 1937 and the highway Urumqi-Hami to be inaugurated in September, 1936.

Stephen_Rynerson
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Re: Alma-Ata-Urumqi railway in 1936

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 07 Mar 2014 06:19

sarhang wrote:Thank you, Stephen_Rynerson.
In fact, my source is a Manchou-Di-Go paper alarmed with the Soviet activities in Sinkiang and Outer Mongolia, who perhaps had decided that a rumour would fit in with other reports.
Nevertheless, it would be interesting to note that the same source speaks of a railway line from the USSR to Kashghar due for completion in the March of 1937 and the highway Urumqi-Hami to be inaugurated in September, 1936.
You're welcome, Sarhang. Having now had the opportunity to go through my books at home, I can definitely say that there's nothing in the English-language sources about actual rail construction in this period. The closest thing I've been able to find is in the so-called "Sin-Tin" agreement that was executed between the Soviet Union and the Xinjiang provincial government in November 1940, which gave the Soviet Union extensive rights to develop mineral resources in the province. The agreement expressly stated that the Soviets had the right to construct such rail lines as were needed to service their mining operations, but it contained no reference to there being any existing rail lines. The text of the Sin-Tin agreement is available in a book called Sinkiang: Pawn or Pivot?, written in 1958 by Allen S. Whiting and Sheng Shih-ts'ai (as it's spelled on the cover; Sheng Shicai in modern spellings), the infamous governor of Xinjiang during the very period at issue. The book doesn't mention anything about possible rail construction in the province and Sheng almost certainly would have been in the best position to know.

Other books I checked include Gateway to Asia: Sinkiang (1944) by Martin R. Norins, Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949 (2010) by Andrew D. W. Forbes, Pivot of Asia (1950) by Owen Lattimore, and Sinkiang under Sheng Shih-Ts'ai: 1933 -1944 A.D. (1965) by Gilbert Chan Fook-Lam. All of these sources discuss the highway construction; none of them mention any degree of work toward rail construction.

sarhang
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Re: Alma-Ata-Urumqi railway in 1936

Post by sarhang » 07 Mar 2014 15:06

Thank you again, Stephen_Rynerson.
Thought you might be interested to look at a list of Russian sources on the region, coming from http://uighur.narod.ru/History/spets_operatsiya.html:

Бармин В.А. Советский Союз и Синьцзян 1918—1941 (Региональный фактор во внешней политике Советского Союза). Барнаул: БГПУ, 1988.
Бармин В.А. Советский Союз и Синьцзян 1918—1941. Барнаул: БГПУ, 1999.
Бармин В.А. Синьцзян в советско-китайских отношениях в 1918—1931 гг. // Проблемы Дальнего Востока, 1999. №4. С. 113—122.
Бармин В.А. Синьцзян в истории советско-китайских отношениях в 1931—1934 гг. // Проблемы Дальнего Востока, 1999. № 6. С. 91—103.
Бармин В.А. Синьцзян в истории советско-китайских отношений в 1931—1934гг. // Проблемы Дальнего Востока, 2000. № 1. С. 84—95.
Галенович Ю. М. «Белые пятна» и «болевые точки» в истории советско-китайских отношений: в 2-х т. М., 1992. Т. 1. С. 107—108.
Мировицкая В. А. Советский Союз в стратегии гоминдана (20-30-е годы). М., 1990. С. 158.
Гриценко Я. Что это было (К событиям в Синьцзяне в 1933,-1934гг.) // Проблемы Дальнего Востока. 1990. № 5.
Таипов 3. В борьбе за свободу. М., 1974.
Градов Ю. Н. Караван на перевале (неизвестная хроника 30-х годов) // Проблемы Дальнего Востока, 1990. № 2—4.

Stephen_Rynerson
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Re: Alma-Ata-Urumqi railway in 1936

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 15 Mar 2014 05:49

Thank you for that source, Sarhang. I needed to run it through Google Translate (since I unfortunately do not read Russian), but it had some helpful information for the subjects I've been researching.

GregSingh
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Re: Alma-Ata-Urumqi railway in 1936

Post by GregSingh » 16 Mar 2014 12:04

On Soviet side, railroad from Aktogay to Dostyk (Druzhba) was completed in 1959.
Dostyk
On PRC side railway to Urumqi was completed in 1962. The missing part from Urumqi to Alashankou (across the border to Druzhba) was not ready until 1990...
Northern Xinjiang Railway
1976 Soviet map shows this railroad as well as proposed one on PRC side.
L-44-29
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

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