Manchu People's Republic
ㄇㄚㄋㄗㄨ ㄖㄜㄇㄧㄋ ㄍㄛㄋㄍㄏㄝㄍㄡ
ᠨᡳᠶᠠᠯᠮᠠᡳᡵᡤᡝᠨ ᡤᡠᠨᡥᡝᡬᠣ ᠮᠠᠨᠵᡠ
Flag of the Soviet Union.png
Flag of Manchu Revolutionary National Congress.png
1946–1990 Flag of Manchuria.svg
Flag of the People's Republic of China.png
Communist Manchuria flag.png Emblem of the Manchu People's Republic.svg
Flag State Emblem
The Internationale in Chinese
ㄇㄟㄧㄡ ㄍㄨㄥㄔㄢㄉㄤ ㄐㄧㄡ ㄇㄟㄧㄡ ㄒㄧㄣ ㄇㄢㄓㄡ
Méiyǒu Gòngchǎndǎng jiù méiyǒu xīn Mǎnzhōu
Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New (1)
Map of Manchuria.png
Territory from 1953-89
Capital Flag of Harbin Harbin
Languages Chinese, Manchu
Religion State Atheism, Chinese folk religion, Manchu Shamanism
Government Marxist-Leninist single party technocracy
First Secretary of the CPM
 •  1946-53 Xu Xiaobao
 • 1953-81 Qian Yiu-tong
 • 1981-89 Tao Shiyou
 • 1989-90 Qing Hongshu
 • 1946-53 Song Yixin (first)
 • 1986-90 Yuan Xiang (last)
Legislature People's Supreme Assembly
Historical era Cold War
 • Soviet Invasion of Manchuria 9–20 August 1945
 •  Manchu-Soviet Treaty of Friendship 3rd May 1946 1946
 •  Orchid Revolution 27th January 1990
Internet TLD .mu
Calling code +88
Warning: Value not specified for "common_name"
Warning: Value not specified for "continent"

The Manchu People's Republic (Chinese: ㄇㄚㄋㄗㄨ ㄖㄜㄇㄧㄋ ㄍㄛㄋㄍㄏㄝㄍㄡ; Manchu: ᠨᡳᠶᠠᠯᠮᠠᡳᡵᡤᡝᠨ ᡤᡠᠨᡥᡝᡬᠣ ᠮᠠᠨᠵᡠ) was a socialist state that was the predecessor of modern day Manchuria. It was created in 1946 following the Soviet invasion and occupation of the Japanese puppet state Manzhougou and the unrecognised short lived Second Manchu Republic, with independence being negotiated by members of the Communist Party of Manchuria led by Xu Xiaobao after the signing of the Manchu-Soviet Treaty of Friendship.

Following the Soviet withdrawal a communist government was established with Xu at its head. In accordance with Stalinist principles the new government created a totalitarian single party state whilst implementing collectivisation, nationalisation and literacy campaigns. Power was monopolised into the communist party's hands with the First Secretary being the de facto dictator of Manchuria. In 1948 a massive purge known as the Red Terror was launched by the Shūjìchù (the secret police) which saw around 1 million people killed or sent to reeducation or prison camps. In 1950 North Korea with Manchurian launched the Korean War against South Korea which resulted in military disaster for Manchuria. The signing of the Tianjin Agreement forced Manchuria to cede a portion of its territory to China which resulted in Xu Xiaobao being ousted by Qian Yiu-tong. Under Qian Manchuria embarked on the Black River Protocol a variant of national communism that tried to transform Manchuria into a regional power. The cult of personality was dismantled as Manchuria militarised its society and embarked on a nuclear weapons program. There was also a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Han Chinese people and culture as part of a Manchunisation policy. In there 1970's there was tepid economic reform as less focus was placed on heavy industry and more on consumer goods and light industry as Manchuria became more interventionist in the third world. There was also some cultural relaxation in the Zhongshan Movement led by Wan Shuangjiang which was ended in the Anti-Reactionary Campaign that purged the party of moderates and reformers. In 1978 the October Crisis broke out which almost saw an escalation into nuclear war, weakening an ailing Qian and giving rise to reformist Tao Shiyou. In 1981 Qian died resulting in Tao Shiyou consolidating his position as paramount leader.

Under Tao some liberal reforms were made under so-called Manchu Communism which Manchuria opening up to the west. Nevertheless as economic problems increased during the 1980's repression tightened as factionalism became more pronounced. In 1989 following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe the Orchid Revolution broke out in Manchuria with the Popular Front for Democracy and Revolution led by former communist Du Changhao demanding political liberalisation. After weeks of protests Tao was ousted and his replacement Yuan Xiang finally announced it would hold democratic elections. In both the premierial and constituent assembly elections the Popular Front won overwhelming resulting in the dissolution of the Manchu People's Republic in 1990 with it being replaced with the Third Manchu Republic.


Creation (1944-46)

Manchu resistance

Communist partisans in the Manchu Revolution.

Prior to World War Two Manchuria had been ruled as a puppet state named Manzhouguo, effectively a colony of Imperial Japan. The Manzhouguo regime was highly repressive crushing dissent with an iron fist either through the Japanese Kwantung Army, Manzhouguo Imperial Army or the Hoankyoku (the Manzhouguo secret police). Manzhouguo was never ethnically homogeneous, although the majority of the population was predominantly Han Chinese. In 1944 discontent with Japanese rule resulted in the Communist Party of Manchuria stage alongside the Manzuxiehui a Manchu Revolution led by communist leaders Zhao Guangping and First Secretary Xu Xiaobao. The CPM had been created by Zhao in 1933 after a split between him and rightists within the Manzuxiehui led by Qian Wayong - however Zhao had become sidelined as Xu increased his own power. The revolution was centred around the city of Harbin which quickly fell to the communist Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army. A provisional revolutionary government was created with the Second Manchu Republic being formed with Zhao serving as its Supreme Leader. The Soviet Union, then at de jure peace with Japan, nevertheless supported the new republic with supplies being provided to the republican government from Khabarovsk to Harbin in the so-called "Khabarovsk-Harbin Corridor". In a series of secret negations conducted between communist military leader Qian Yiu-tong and Soviet authorities in the city of Vladivostok the Haishenwai Agreement was agreed that confirmed Soviet recognition of an independent Manchu state that would be ruled by a communist regime.

Stalinist Period (1946-50)

Korean War (1950-54)

Black River Protocol (1954-72)

Zhongshan Movement (1972-76)

Anti-Reactionary Campaign (1976-81)

New Communism (1981-89)

Orchid Revolution (1989-90)


Manchuria along with the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc was a single party state based upon the principles of Marxism-Leninism. Fundamentally an autocracy, the Manchu People's Republic was a dictatorship with its ruling political organisation being the Democratic Front for Socialism, which was dominated and run entirely by the Communist Party of Manchuria (CPM). The head of state was the Premier of the National Democratic Council led an executive cabinet known as the National Democratic Council which consists of Premier and ministers (known as Secretaries) who led government departments known as Orgburos. However, real power rested in the leader of the CPM, known as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Manchuria who was by default also the leader of the Democratic Front for Socialism. The First Secretary was also the Chairman of the Central Military Commission which controlled the army, making them the de facto commander in chief. The CPM and the Manchurian government were practically interchangeable, with the party controlling all aspects of Manchuria, leading to political scientists to characterise the Manchu People's Republic as being authoritarian and totalitarian.

Qian 1977

Qian Yiu-tong was the leader of Manchuria for 27 years from 1954 to 1981.

Originally Manchurian politics revolved around a strict Stalinist ideology, but in 1954 First Secretary Qian Yiu-tong laid down a series of policies collectively known as the Black River Protocol, a form of national communism that sought to transform Manchuria into a regional power in the second world. Nationalist in nature the Black River Protocol saw a dismantling of the cult of personality as well as some economic concessions made, whilst also leading to the development of nuclear weapons and the ethnic cleansing of Han Chinese people. In 1981 Qian's successor Tao Shiyou introduced Manchu Communism which saw economic reforms be carried out as well as a relaxing of cultural controls and a détente with the first world co-currently whilst Tao built up a cult of personality.

The Premier of the National Democratic Council was the de jure head of state and government. The National Democratic Council was the executive branch of government, appointed by the Premier who was elected until 1983 by the legislature known as the People's Supreme Assembly. Both the Premier and the National Democratic Council were responsible to the Assembly who had the power to remove them in a vote of no confidence. Members of the National Democratic Council led government department known as "Organisational Bureaus" (commonly referred to abroad as "Orgburo"). The Premier had the official declare war, dissolve the Supreme National Assembly (with judicial support), ratify treaties, grant pardons, and exercise executive power. In 1983 Premier Tao Shiyou carried out constitutional change that had the Premier elected directly by the general populace, although members of the National Democratic Council were still picked from the People's Supreme Assembly. The People's Supreme Assembly was a unicameral legislature, comprising of 685 members who were formally elected from one of the organisation who made up the Democratic Front for Socialism, with the CPM retaining the majority of seats.

The Democratic Front for Socialism was dominated by the CPM, but included several minor parties. These included the Revolutionary Manzuxiehui, Party of Agrarian Reform and Korean People's Socialist Party. There were also several mass organisation represented in the Democratic Front for Socialism such as the Manchu Trade Union Federation, Young Communist League, National Women's Congress, Manchurian Cultural Confederation and the Manchu-Comecon Co-operation Society. Nevertheless, the CPM remained in firm control of the Front with thee organisations having little autonomy.


The iconic headquarters of the Communist Party of Manchuria which was the ruling party of the Manchu People's Republic

In practice however the Premier, National Democratic Council and People's Supreme Assembly were all considered to be a rubber stamping bodies with the Communist Party's apparatus being the real centre of power. Organised on the principles of democratic centralism, the highest governing body of the CPM was the Central Committee which consisted of 56 members chosen at the party presidium. The Central Committee officially approved of all executive and legislative decisions within the party. The Central Committee often makes the senior decisions within the party, and in theory dominates the political system. The members of the Central Committee were elected at the party's presidium which convened every five years to elect the Central Committee. The Presidium was made up of delegates from each local party branch, but was largely a ceremonial body with little power. When the Central Committee was not in session the Standing Committee stood in its place. The Standing Committee consisted of 23 of the Central Committee's members and was led by a Chairman appointed by the Politburo, who oversaw the Standing Committee's actions. After the politburo the Standing Committee was the most powerful organ of government.

The party's Politburo held de facto control of the party and thus the government as a whole, with the Central Committee in practice being too unwieldy an institution to govern through. Consisting of 8 senior party cadres, the Politburo set the policy within the party making the executive decisions from within the party. The Secretariat was the other centre of power and had the power to observe and administrate governmental institutions, although it officially only had power over the CPM. The head of the politburo and secretariat was the First Secretary of the CPM, who appointed the members of the party and the politburo as well as controlling the secretariat. As such the First Secretary effectively functioned as the leader of the Manchu People's Republic having a monopoly of government power.


Local elections for party representatives were held every two years, with all citizens over the age of 18 allowed to vote unless they are incarcerated or deemed mentally unstable. Every five years elections are held for the People's Supreme Assembly. Ballots listed only the candidate of the Democratic Front for Socialism. Voting was not a private process - there were two boxes people placed ballots in, one for the Democratic Front for Socialism's candidate and one for invalid votes which were inspected when they were cast. If one put their vote in the invalid box they could face serious repercussions (eg. demotion in their profession).


The judicial branch of the Manchu People's Republic was based upon the socialist legal system with the Judicial Yuan functioned as the high court of Manchuria. Unlike other communist countries the Supreme Court could not be overruled by the legislature. The leader of the Judicial Yuan was the Procurator General. The People's Courts functioned as both the civilian and criminal courts in Manchuria. Manchurian law dictated by the People's Supreme Assembly and was not a separate branch of the government. Judges are picked from within party ranks, and are generally hold more sway in trials then juries. Members of the jury must hold no criminal records and not be acquainted with the accused. Juries mainly existed to rubber stamp the decisions made by the court. The Constitution of the Manchu People's Republic defined that the courts of Manchuria must ensure loyalty to the state, the overseeing of the abolishment of private property, and erosion of the class structure. There was little focus upon private law with public law being the primary obligation the state provided.

Human rights

The Constitution of the Manchu People's Republic officially granted freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of protest and right to a fair trial. However, in reality these rights were rarely if ever observed. Manchuria was known for having one of the worst human rights records in the world - according to Manchu dissident Hua Jieshi the communist regime engaged in "systematic brutalisation" of its citizens mainly performed by the secret police known as the Shūjìchù. The jailing and torture of political prisoners was extremely common as was extra-judicial executions. The human rights record was propagated partly because of the influence of Stalinism but also as a nationalist method of legitimising the Manchu state, being a continuation of the ethnic cleansing pursued under Zhao Guangping.

Human rights were at their worse between 1946-54 under the rule of Xu Xiaobao who launched the Red Terror in 1946. The Red Terror saw thousands purged as "counter-revolutionary rightists" with many being sent to be either tortured through "reeducation" or to prison camps. Prison camps in Manchuria were notorious for their poor conditions and harsh punishments for prisoners who often performed hard labour. Many died of malnutrition or of the cold. The Red Terror was ended in 1948, but severe repression continued throughout communist rule. Following Xu's ousting in 1954 and the rise of Qian Yiu-tong the Shūjìchù were brought under control having been autonomous from the CPM under Xu. In 1967 the Zhongshan Movement was launched which saw a gradual liberalisation of culture and the economy with some censorship controls being lifted. However in 1976 the Zhongshan Movement was crushed in the Anti-Reactionary Campaign which saw a huge purge of party moderates. Under Tao Shiyou censorship was tightened but the Shūjìchù was weakened, with mass terror campaigns being discontinued.

Censorship was used extensively in the Manchu People's Republic, with all media having to be approved by the Committee of Public Information. All independent journalism
Red Terror (Manchuria)

A dissident being purged during the Red Terror.

was banned with foreign journalists rarely if ever allowed in the country. All those who did not conform to the state's censorship standards were punished. There was no fair trials in Manchuria with courts being rubber stamping bodies that approved of sentences sometimes before a trial even began. Cultural oppression in Manchuria was exercised in a Manchunisation mainly towards Han Chinese people who made up the overwhelming majority of the population. Attacks were made against Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism all of which were derided for being "un-Manchu" and "reactionary". Religious people faced persecution by the state, and those labelled to be bourgeoisie or counter-revolutionary faced intense social ostracisation. During the collectivisation campaign land owners and rich peasants where derided in a similar manner as kulaks in the Soviet Union. Through land confiscation and death squads landlords were by 1950 eliminated as a class. Other targets for the state were those accused of Trotskyism, Titoism and later Maoism. Both those on the political left and right were repressed unless they followed the party line. Independent trade unions were banned and workers were given no rights such as collective bargaining. In 1984 the Manchurian Union of Free Workers (an underground trade union) attempted to stage several strikes in protest of their wages being cut and working hours extended - the strikes were brutally crushed by the government. Freedom of movement was restricted with Manchu citizens being required to own internal passports. Those on collective farms had to have permission to move to a different region, and those looking to go abroad had to have permission from the party. This resulted in very little immigration from Manchuria (bar some in Eastern Boc states, most notably Poland). Foreigners outside of the communist bloc were rarely allowed to enter the country. Freedom of movement was relaxed under Tao Shiyou who abolished internal passports, allowed collective farmers to move freely, liberalised immigration to Eastern Bloc countries and allowed western tourists to enter Manchuria en masse as part of his détente foreign policy.

Despite this women's rights in Manchuria improved massively under the communist regime. Concubinage and polygamy were outlawed as divorce was legalised, with women being for the first time equal with men in 1946. In 1948 arranged marriages were also criminalised as the age of consent was set at the age of 18 for both men and women. Affirmative action for women was also adopted to help integrate them in education and the workplace. Despite this conservative attitudes especially in rural areas meant that women still faced de facto discrimination. In 1968 ji jian (sodomy) laws were abolished in Manchuria effectively de-criminalising homosexuality - however it was still taboo to be openly homosexual with there being no legal protection of homosexual rights.

Foreign relations

Manchu Soviet co-operation

A postcard celebrating the Manchu-Soviet Treaty of Friendship.

Manchuria was created as a puppet state by the Soviet Union with its independence being granted by the Manchu-Soviet Treaty of Friendship. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was keen to exploit the resource-rich lands of Manchuria, thus the Treaty of Friendship was balanced in favour of the Soviets. Up until 1954 the Soviet Red Army kept a military garrison in Harbin and sent in numerous military and economic advisor's to hep run Manchuria. Soviet influence resulted in a strict Stalinist system being created in Manchuria whilst also guaranteeing Manchuria's independence from China as well as Manchuria's membership into COMECON. From the beginning of its existence Manchuria was recognised by the Eastern Bloc countries of Poland, Bulgaria, Albania, Mongolia and Yugoslavia. Manchuria was one of the first nations to recognise the communist governments of Romania in 1947, Czechoslovakia in 1948 and East Germany, Hungary and China in 1949. From the offset Chinese-Manchu relations were poor as China claimed large tacts of Manchuria as being Chinese land. Chinese State Chairman Mao Zedong wrote that the independence of Manchuria was one of the USSR's Great betrayals against China. Manchuria's government severed relations after the Yugoslav-Soviet split in 1948 with the government subsequently purging "Titoist counter-revolutionary elements". Manchuria was largely unrecognised by western nations during its early years.
Output pRff4d

An animated map showing the foreign recognition of Manchuria.

In 1950 Manchu leader's grew worried that China would attempt to annexe Manchuria, leading them to support the Stalinist North Korea when it declared against the pro-American authoritarian regime of South Korea. The end of the war saw South Korea officially recognise the Manchurian communist regime, the first non-communist country to do so as well as see China annexe eastern Manchuria as a result of the Tianjin Agreement. The death of Stalin in 1953 and ousting of Stalinist Manchurian leader Xu Xiaobao in 1954 resulted in the rise of Qian Yiu-tong who initially followed a pro-Stalinist line. Manchuria gave full backing to the Soviet Union during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 criticising the Hungarian government as being "reactionary fascist-capitalist roaders". Following the Polish October which saw Polish communist boss Władysław Gomułka declare the so-called "Polish way to socialism" Qian ha Manchuria become more assertive in international affairs, declaring the Black River Protocol which sought to make Manchuria into a regional power. During the 1950-60's Manchuria started to expand its foreign influence, gaining diplomatic recognition with more nations. Crucially however the United States refused to recognise Manchuria, which was also denied recognition from West Germany and Japan. During the 1960's Manchuria supported many revolutionary movements in the Third World such as the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Pathet Lao, Viet Cong, Khmer Rouge, African National Congress, MPLA, FRELIMO and Zimbabwe African National Union. Manchuria also supported third world socialist regimes such as Somalia, Qatif and Libya with financial and military hardware. Following the Six dyas WarManchuria severed relations with Israel and became a supporter of Arab states such as Syria and Egypt. Manchuria nevertheless followed a pro-Soviet line throughout, enthusiastically supporting the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. In the 1960's communist leader Qian Yiu-tong was able to negotiate with
Mao, Shininouk and Qian

Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong, Peng Zhen, Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk and Manchu Premier Qian Yiu-tong in 1956, Beijing.

Mao Zedong for the Manchu Great Exchange to take place with thousands of ethnic Han Chinese being deported to China - however the policy was halted due to ongoing tensions between the USSR and China, with Manchuria supporting the Soviet Union.

1970 saw Manchuria both join the United Nations as the United States established full diplomatic relations - the same year Manchuria became an observer in the Warsaw Pact as well. Manchuria also allowed many of its workers to immigrate to Poland after the country was facing economic downturn - for the rest of their history the Manchu and Polish People's Republic's maintained extremely close relations, even for Eastern Bloc states. In 1971 Manchuria re-opened relations with China which had been frosty since the start of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as well as cultivating better relations with Yugoslavia and Romania who had been pursuing independent foreign policies from the USSR. Manchuria also became actively involved in the Mozambican Civil War following Mozambique's independence from Portugal as well as supporting the Derg regime during the Ethiopian Civil War. Tensions arose with Japan thanks to Manchuria's nuclear weapons program. In 1978 Japanese spy Ōtsubo Katsumoto defected to Manchuria leading Japan to demand he be repatriated to Japan. Tensions increased when Manchuria shot several missiles into the Yellow Sea sparking the October Crisis in which Manchuria released Ōtsubo in return for Japan giving recognition to Manchuria. Relations with the western world was further exacerbated by Manchuria's unwavering support for the Soviet invention in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against Mujahideen forces.

In 1981 Tao Shiyou rose to power and emphasised a détente foreign policy with the west whilst still supporting third world regimes. Tao allowed much more western tourists to enter Manchuria in order to boost its ailing economy whilst visiting major western leaders such as US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The next year Tao re-established ties with
Tao and Al-Assad

First Secretary of the Communist Party of Manchuria Tao Shiyou with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in 1980.

Israel. During the Iran-Iraq War Tao like other pro-Soviet leaders supported Iraq providing them with military equipment and financial aid. During the 1980's Tao also covertly supported the Sandinista's in Nicaragua, the FMLN in El Salvador and URNG in Guatemala. The ascension of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 and subsequent scrapping of the Brezhnev Doctrine led to uncertainty amongst the Manchu leadership. Tao's regime had been able to cast itself as the most enlightened and reformed of the communist states, but with the launching of perestroika and glasnost put pressure on the the Manchu government to pursue similar reforms. This created growing tensions between the USSR and Manchuria with Tao refusing to lift draconian cultural controls or compromise on the principle of one-party rule, allying himself with Stalinist Eastern Bloc leaders such as Erich Honecker, Todor Zhivkov, Gustáv Husák and Nicolae Ceaușescu. During the Revolutions of 1989 the Manchu supported the Chinese crack down in Tiananmen Square with Tao calling it a "triumph of socialism overcoming counter revolution". However by the time of the Orchid Revolution Manchuria's erstwhile communist allies had all collapsed with the exception of China, and with the adoption of the so-called "Sinatra doctrine" by the USSR the communist regime received no international support when it was toppled in December that year.

The Manchu People's Republic was a member of the UN, Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and an observer of the Warsaw Pact.



Manchurian factory

A coal factory in Anshan, 1948

Like other Comecon members, the Manchu People's Republic operated a centrally planned command economy. Five-Year plans were published by the Central Economic Policy Directorate which directed the economy. These plans would set targets for all major industries. Sometimes the plans would be met ahead of schedule, other times they would fail. The means of production in Manchuria were completely owned by the state after a nationalisation programme in the 1940's. Agriculture was collectivised around the same time, although at a much slower rate. Manchuria's centrally planned economy was largely developed with Soviet aid, who intentionally structured the economy so Manchuria would always export surplus goods to other communist nations, thereby forcing Manchuria to in turn import from those nations and keep Manchuria economically dependent on the Soviet Union.

Under the communist regime Manchuria placed a great degree of economic focus on heavy industry with consumer goods and light industry being neglected. During the 1960's through to the 1980's there were efforts to address this issue, although the economy still remained overwhelming unbalanced with too much focus given to heavy industry. Under communist rule Manchuria made huge economic and technological progress, with strong economic growth and standard of living up until the 1980's when the economy entered crippling stagnation. Labour productivity also saw steady growth until the 1980's. However, there were constant shortages of consumer goods leading to thriving black market as well as corruption at all levels of the economy with target figures being falsified to meet targets. The government tried to address the stagnation of the economy by opening up the tourist industry in 1981, but the economy continued on a downturn until the regime's collapse in 1990.

Per Capita GDP (1990 $) 1950 1973 1990
Austria $3,706 $11,235 $16,895
Bulgaria $1,651 $5,284 $5,597
Czechoslovakia $3,501 $7,041 $8,513
Greece $1,915 $7,655 $10,015
Hungary $2,480 $5,596 $6,459
Italy $3,502 $10,634 $16,320
Manchuria $645 $1,972 $2,430
Portugal $2,086 $7,063 $10,826
Romania $1,182 $3,477 $3,511
Soviet Union $2,841 $6,059 $6,894
Spain $2,189 $7,661 $12,055
Yugoslavia $1,551 $4,361 $5,646

Heavy industry

A key policy of the communist government was investment in heavy industry. Manchuria had been the first industrialised region of the Qing dynasty and under the Manzhouguo regime the Japanese expanded this industrialisation to help provide resources for the Kwantung Army. However during the Soviet occupation much of Manchuria's industrial assets were dismantled and shipped to the USSR, who subsequently created many joint Soviet-Manchu enterprises. When the first Central Economic Policy Directorate was created to draft the first five year plan many of those who were members of the Directorate were Soviet advisers who themselves were central planners in the Soviet Union. These advisers proposed that Manchuria should follow a similar economic direction to the USSR, advocating for a massive push to develop heavy industry. The reason for the emphasis on heavy industry was mainly idealogical - Manchuria was ostensibly a "dictatorship of the proletariat" but for there to be an industrial proletariat heavy industry had to be developed.

Manchu factory 1948

A paint factory in Jilin City, 1948.

Under the first five-year plan coal extraction and steel production were billed as top economic priorities. Fushun, Anshan, Jilin City, Qiqihar and Mudanjiang were chosen to produce steel, and large coal reserves meant that coal mines and refineries were set up around the country. Petroleum deposits in the Daqing Oil Field saw oil refineries being built, with the aim being that Manchuria would help export coal and oil to other eastern bloc states. The reasoning behind this was two-fold - on the one hand Manchuria would be forced to import oil from other countries to keep up its rapid rate of industrialisation thus making it dependent on the USSR and on the other the postwar Soviet-style economies in Eastern Europe could accelerate their own industrialisation with Manchu coal and oil. Machinery, electronics, metal refining and automobiles were the main products produced in Manchuria.

The overwhelming focus on heavy industry meant that consumer goods were neglected. However more seriously there was a lack in chemicals and plastics, especially in the Stalinist period between 1946-54. This was somewhat alleviated with the expansion of Manchuria's chemical weapons programme, which saw research into chemical manufacturing broadened. Nevertheless the focus on heavy industry remained unchanged during Qian Yiu-tong's rule. This focus resulted in many industrial plants receiving modernised equipment whilst other sectors of the economy (notably agriculture) suffered serous neglect, whilst old factories were rarely closed down. A focus on quantity over quality resulted often in poor goods which were hard to sell to non-Comecon states coupled with artificially low prices. The conservative leadership believed that the systems failings were down to a lack of discipline and thus implemented military like rules in factories to clamp down on corruption and inefficiency

Under Tao Shiyou there was an effort to modernise heavy industry. In 1973 Leonid Brezhnev had launched "an alliance of the working class with science" after he fused together industrial complexes with scientific research institutions, a measure Tao quickly implemented in Manchuria to moderate success. Inefficient factories were bequeathed with new equipment that helped them become more productive which somewhat allowed Manchurian industrial goods to become more competitive on a world stage. A greater focus on quality was emphasised although it was still trumped by quantity. However Tao also borrowed heavily from the west to finance heavy industry modernisation considerably raising the deficit of Manchuria. By 1989, Manchuria's heavy industry was the most developed in the Eastern Bloc, but still served as a centre for chronic corruption.

Light industry

The development of light industry - or lack thereof - in the Manchu People's Republic remained a chronic economic problem. The focus on meeting economic targets and production quotas resulted in there to be a greater drive towards the quantity of what was being produced, not quality. Whilst this worked well for heavy industry (which was primarily focussed on the extraction of raw materials) it did not for light industry - goods were produced to meet quota's meaning many were of poor quality and as such unusable.

From 1946-54 under Xu Xiaobao consumer goods were a mere afterthought. Manchuria was still recovering from the Manchu Revolution and fighting GMD forces in the south of the country resulting in production being geared towards heavy industry and arms production. The outbreak of the Korean War exacerbated this focus further contributing to a serious neglect of light industry and consumer goods. Consumer goods made in this period were of exceptionally poor quality, whilst light industry received more attention following the development of Manchuria's chemical weapons program leading to greater research into plastics and chemical production.


Mukden collective farm

The Mukden Socialist Agricultural Co-operative, 1975.

When the communist party came to power agriculture was largely unmodernised, being the same as it had been for thousands of years. Most land was owned either by landlords or by the Japanese when they ruled over Manzhouguo, and modern agricultural tools were rarely if ever used. The communist party aimed to modernise agriculture through collectivisation which they believed would not only produce food surpluses but also further the creation of a fully functioning socialist society. Collectivisation would also pacify peasant resistance to the communist regime and help industrialise the nation at a much faster rate.

The land left by the departing Japanese forces were instantly nationalised by the government who began to immediately create Socialist Agricultural Co-operatives (SAC's). SAC's were often around 50 peasant households merged together where they pooled together resources and lived communally with food, housing, medicine and childcare being provided by the collective. In September 1946 communist leader Xu Xiaobao announced the start of the "Great Peasant Revolution", wherein the landlords were stripped off their status and land before being tried in revolutionary courts for being reactionary counter-revolutionaries. All land was subsequently collectivised with the military forcing peasants into SAC's. The SAC's were at first under supplied with there being a shortage of tractors and fertiliser. Nevertheless unlike in the USSR large scale slaughter of livestock did not take place, party due to the rapid pace of collectivisation and partly due to the government preparing for such a scenario in advance.

The collectives were poorly managed with heavy pressure to meet targets resulting in production figures being exaggerated. This had no serious impact until 1950 following the start of the Korean War - excessive amounts of food were taken by newly formed requisition squads and re-directed to the military and the KPA resulting in an outbreak of famine in Manchuria especially in the northern regions where less food was grown. The famine lasted until 1951 and saw the deaths of around 500,000-750,000 people. Although the worst effects of the famine ended in 1951 low agricultural productivity continued until Xu's ouster in 1954 by Qian Yiu-tong. When Qian took power, agricultural production had all but collapsed with most food being traded on the black market. Qian's first action was to dismantle the requisition squads who often used excessive violence when procuring foods and dramatically lowering targets for agricultural goods thus putting less pressure on SAC's to falsify production figures. Qian also imported food from abroad, gave more authority to the commune managers and gave greater rewards for productive commune workers, named the "Helmsmen of the Great Peasant Revolution".
Mukden collective farm cows

Livestock at the Mukden Commune, 1975.

SAC's continued to be the main form of agricultural production throughout the communist period. When Tao Shiyou came to party he championed the slogan "Bread and Work, Peace and Socialism" and encouraged greater state investment into agriculture making Manchuria less dependent on food imports. By the 1980's Manchuria was a major producer of soybeans, maize, wheat, flax, cotton and rice. Communist Manchuria was also a major producer of livestock and had a large dairy industry that underwent substantial investment during the 1970's. By 1989, the food situation in Manchuria had dramatically improved although due to much of Manchuria's food being exported to the Eastern Bloc Manchuria was still forced to import food. Communes were also criticised for being under-target and being under-invested in.




Manchuria food shortages

A queue for food in Changchun, 1963.

Shortages were long recognised by the Communist Party as the most serious economic problem in Manchuria. The root of the shortages could be traced to the price controls implemented by the regime. Taking the structure of a typical price ceiling certain consumer goods - most importantly food - were kept at artificially low prices whilst rationing after 1954 was outlawed. This created shortages, exacerbated by a lack of consumer goods and bottlenecks in the production of such goods. These shortages caused a thriving black market to spring up with bartering and hoarding becoming more common. In 1976 the government attempted to address shortages by buying food from abroad, cracking down on the black market and encouraging people to ration their goods. This coupled with increased investment in consumer goods helped alleviate the worst shortages especially in urban areas. However, this did not completely eliminate the black market and rural areas still suffered from chronic shortages.




When the communists came to power healthcare in Manchuria was extremely poor. Life expectancy stood at 36 years old in 1946, with there also being periodic outbreaks of cholera, bubonic plague, typhoid fever, dysentery and scarlet fever. Personal hygiene was also poor as was sanitation.
Manchuria hospital

A hospital in Yingkou, 1975

The Constitution of the Manchu People's Republic guaranteed a universal healthcare system with all citizens possessing to health free of charge. As such the party was confronted with the issue of ensuring that healthcare would reach the entire nation whilst eradicating the worst diseases which would undoubtedly put strains on the system. Healthcare reform was thus spilt into three areas - encouraging prevention through public health programmes, eradicating diseases altogether and building a robust system of hospitals for the population. In 1947 the Orgburo of Health published a report establishing poor sanitation as one of the root causes of many of Manchuria's diseases, leading to a mass campaign to rehaul the sanitation systems. The Orgburo of Waterworks was created to oversee the task, overseeing the building of numerous canals and a nation-wide sewage system. Water chlorination was used mainly in urban areas, resulting in many diseases to be wiped out in Manchuria such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid. Similarly the communists implemented strict pest control in order to prevent any outbreaks of the plague. Public awareness campaigns were used to spread health information around the country. When agriculture was collectivised the practice of using human faeces (so-called "night fuel") as fertiliser was banned - however this was quickly reversed as peasants were instead encouraged to put such fertiliser in silo's provided to communes to prevent the spread of disease.
Commune medical centre

A health centre in the Mukden Commune, 1975

A three-tier hospital system was created. Communes and local districts managed health centres that dealt in basic medical and dental treatments whilst providing preventative medicines. More specialised treatment was given at township hospitals. Above township hospitals were provincial General Hospitals with a maximum bedspace of 500,000 people.

The healthcare reforms pursued by the communist government were relatively successful. Life expectancy rose from 36 in 1946 to 74 in 1989 and infant mortality dropped dramatically. Nevertheless there were still serious problems. Health reform was uneven - in urban areas access to healthcare facilities were much better then in rural areas. Hospitals in rural areas often faced supply shortages and the training of rural doctors was haphazard in comparison to their urban counterparts. Healthcare was subsidised completely for industrial workers from 1949, but it took until 1973 for peasants to receive full subsidies. By 1989 the health system was in decline, with most equipment being outdated. Nevertheless, Manchuria maintained some of the best healthcare in East Asia at the time, outdoing its neighbours China and the Soviet Union as by 1989 after the military healthcare took up the second most amount of the governments budget.



Culture in the Manchu People's Republic was tightly controlled by the communist party, who endeavoured to create a completely new, proletarian Manchu culture. A de-Sinicization campaigned was enacted following the communist takeover, with Manchunisation implemented as a national policy. The communists aimed to reshape Manchu culture from one being based on superstition and hierarchy to one based on anti-imperialism, class consciousness, class struggle and "socialist rationalism". Although culture played lipped service to internationalism, ultimately all cultural activity was designed to stoke Manchurian nationalism.

All culture was filtered through the Orgburo of Information and the Orgburo of Culture. Most culture was based around socialist realism with other styles of arts save those that were traditional were banned. Religion and participation in non-communist activities was strictly prohibited and similarly tightly controlled by the government. Cultural controls were relaxed first in Zhongshan Movement between 1973-6, and then under Tao Shiyou from 1980-9. However, social and cultural activities were always ultimately under the idealogical control of the communist party.





Xuling TV

A Xuling television set.

Manchu TV 1986

A ZDM1 news report in 1988

There had been almost no television in Manchuria prior to 1955 when the first Xuling Television set was created. There were only three television stations - the Central Manchu Television 1 (ZDM1), the Central Manchu Television 2 (ZDM2) and Red Manchu Sports (HMT). ZDM1 was exclusively broadcast in the Chinese language and aired a broad variety of programming from children television shows, the news and adult dramas whilst the ZMD2 aired similar programming only in the Manchu language. HMT meanwhile primarily focussed on sports programming.

Initially programming was primarily political, mostly taking the form of propaganda films praising the Communist Party and the achievements of socialism - even in the nominally sports centred HMT more time was dedicated to political programming. In 1956 the first children's programme - Little Xie Yuanhong - was created, and in 1957 television dramas and comedies were created. Programmes rarely exceeded 20 minutes, and typically television shows lasted for 12 episodes a series. All shows were under strict censorship laws, and so often avoided certain subjects such as politics (or only showed the positive aspects of communism) or religion. Television remained formulaic with most shows being contemporary in nature until the early 1970's at the height of the Zhongshan Movement, when the first science fiction and historical programmes started to be broadcast alongside documentaries. The HMT channel was popular amongst Manchurians being after 1971 less politicised and respected as a reliable and (comparably) uncensored channel for sporting interests.

People appearing on television were also under strict rules. Men were prohibited from wearing beards, and there were a limited number of clothes and haircuts non-political figures could wear on television. Make-up was strictly prohibited. These controls were relaxed under Tao Shiyou, who introduced the first colour televisions in Manchuria in 1982. Television was given more freedom in its programming, although content remained tightly controlled and filtered through censors.

Opera and theatre



The People of the World Will Surely be Victorious, a popular revolutionary song.

Sounds of Leaves

Sounds of Leave, a 1980's pop song

Music in communist Manchuria was divided into three categories - traditional music, revolutionary music and pop music, the latter of which only became popular in the 1960's. Traditional music described music commonly associated with Manchu culture, and featured the heavy use of octagonal drums. Revolutionary music often used large orchestras and emphasised patriotic, socialist and revolutionary themes whilst pop music used western style modern music and themes.

During the 1940's-50's revolutionary music was by the far the most played music being actively supported by the government. Other forms of music were restricted or banned altogether for being bourgeois or reactionary. Music had Russian elements although inspiration from traditional Manchu/Chinese sources were also incorporated. Revolutionary music was never performed alone (often a choir would be used) and would always emphasise optimism and socialism. After 1954 traditional music was promoted and there was relaxations in pop music, although rock, disco and jazz remained banned. Opera music became popular during the 1960's being based on Chinese and Western sources. During the Zhongshan movement launched in the early 1970's music was relaxed to a much greater extent, with the first pop artists and bands forming although all were signed to the government record label (the All-Manchu Musical Recording Group). Pop music was often restricted in content, and revolved around fraternity, love, joy and sadness. Whilst jazz and disco had restrictions eased, rock music did not. The Anti-Reactionary Campaign that was initiated in 1976 saw the revival in revolutionary music as pop music was restricted, a trend that continued until 1981.

During the 1980's cultural restrictions were lessened resulting in an explosion of pop artists. The government gave pop artists more freedom within set guidelines with the hope of exporting Manchu music abroad to Chinese speaking audiences in Macau, Hong Kong, China and Singapore, with pop often taking the form of pop ballads, disco or dance music. Artists such as Peng Chaoying, Xi Qinghong and the Five Sisters gained enormous popularity in Manchuria. Rock music also started to gain in popularity, but it was largely concentrated underground due to government restrictions. By the time of the Orchid Revolution Manchuria had a diverse music scene, although they were all restricted by the government with foreign music outside of the Eastern Bloc still being difficult to acquire.