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Chinese Communities in Western Siberia in the 1920s–1930s

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image of Inner Asia

This paper aims to outline the origins and main dimensions of the Chinese immigrant communities which were established in the Russian heartland (Western Siberia) during the interwar period (1920s—1930s). It argues that Chinese – primarily male groups – had managed to adapt peacefully, though temporarily, into the local environment due their particular mentality and social features: they were often occupying free labour and demographic lacunae, caused by the losses of men in WWI/Russian civil war and devastation of economy/infrastructure. The growth of authoritarian tendencies under the Stalinist regime in Soviet Union, economic shortcomings and the ethnic purges of 1930s closed the agenda of Chinese presence in theWestern Siberian, aswell as in thewhole Soviet scene. Actually all persons of Chinese origin were accused of being ‘outside’ (Japan's) collaborators, and they were assassinated or, at best, forwarded to concentration camps. Just a few survived. The Chinese in Western Siberia represented a very particular socio-demographic and ethnical phenomenon, remarkably distinctive fromother similar, Russian Far East or worldwide, immigrant communities.


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