Essay on the history of teaching Russian language in Xinjiang during the Qing Dynasty since the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century
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Essay on the history of teaching Russian language in Xinjiang during the Qing Dynasty since the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century
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Pavel Lapin 
Affiliation: Russian Embassy in China
Address: Beijing, China

Follow the developing relations between Russia and Qing Empire the topical issue was to train Russian language specialist by local officials. The biggest need in this kind of personnel was in the border of the two Emperies where the main bilateral ties were concentrated. Xinjiang that had mutual border with Russia had one of the special places in the Russian foreign policy. Active military and diplomatic, trade and economic activities of the Russians in this Chinese region created the necessary prerequisites for establishing government bodies there that were in charge of various aspects of bilateral relations including the training of interpreters for local authorities. Russian language studying in Xinjiang is a rather topical issue. Russian language school that was established there in the end of the 18th century was the first official school created by Chinese authorities out-of capital where Russian language was taught. In the early 20th century Xinjiang officials were the first from other local administrators who begun to send students to Russia for education purposes that was in the interest of popularizing Russian language in the Chinese border. At the same time in spite of high attention of authority to Russian language developing in Xinjiang the schools opened there were not able to secure to train this kind of specialists in full.

There were little references in historical literature on Russian language schools graduates who had become a well-known Russian language specialist in the future.

Qing Empire, Xinjiang, Russian language teaching, humanitarian contacts, Russian language schools, studying Chinese students abroad.
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1 During the reign of Qing Dynasty the development of teaching the Russian language in China was essential. It was carried out by taking into account the practical needs of the state in training of linguists. The most engaged Chinese regions were that primarily supported by political-military and trade-economic realities with Russia. Despite Russian interests in China were represented in whole Empire, the main contacts were naturally concentrated near the border areas. It included Xinjiang, with which Russia had a common long border line.
2 The study of how Russian language was taught in Xinjiang is very important. This is not only about the context of understanding the history of Russian studies in China, but also about estimation of Chinese border authorities activity in implementing the foreign policy line with regard on Russian state. It is particularly relevant in given the circumstances. I mean, that a part of Xinjiang territory (Ili (Taranchi) sultanate with its capital in Yining) was integrated into the Russian Empire in 1871–1881.
3 The political process of Xinjiang region’s formation and its entry into the Chinese empire was very difficult. This region was plunged into a warrior and insurrection After the defeat of Dzungar Khanate by Manchuria-Qing troops in 1755–1759, all leaders of this battle fought against Qing Dynasty Empire. Qing forces suppressed all the centers of resistance only in early 1880’s. They compelled all the East Turkestan (Kashgaria) and Dzungaria In 1884 the province of Xinjiang was formed with its capital in Urumqi (formerly known as Dihua, 迪化) as part of Qing Empire1.
1. For more on Xinjiang political history, see in: [Бармин, Дмитриев, 2016, с. 219–221].
4 Russia had always shown great interest to Xinjiang in terms of strengthening its position in the Asian region while competing with other powers. Treaty of Kuldja signed in 1851 with the Chinese Empire gave Russia to solidify in the region. It also had provided Russian merchants significant tax and trade benefits and allowed to open the first Russian consular offices in Kuldja (1852–1865) and Chuguchak (Tarbagatay 1853–1865 restored in 1883) [Циндай чжунъэ гуаньси 1979, p. 58–59, 86].
5 Legal guarantees contributed to the increase in human flows in Xinjiang and the growths of the Russian expand community2 . The expansion of Russian consul residence in China increased taking into account the land contacts consolidation. New Russian consulates were established in Kashgar (1882) and Turfane (1895). Russia reserved the right to open consulates or consulates in Hami (not opened) and Urumqi. In 1896 the consulate in Turpan was closed and in 1897 was transferred to Urumqi [Цзи Дачунь, 1982, p. 75–78; Чжао Цзяньфэн, 2014, p. 64–66]. The agreements made it possible to determine the line of the state border passage, which was in the interests of stabilizing the Russian borderland (it was also poorly protected from external interference) [Уметбаев, Дудникова, 2015, p. 261–263].
2. For instance, there were about 35 000 of Russians in Ili Territory (the most compact residence of Russians) in 1870’s. Nevertheless, the number of Russians decreased after return of this area to Qing in 1881 [Петякшина, 2015, с. 129]. In 1916 there were 15,480 partials of the Russian Empire in Xinjiang (without taking into account Russian merchants, which were living on a permanent basis [Лашутина, 2013, с. 67].
6 Trade was on the rise. In 1895 the volume of supplies from Xinjiang to Russia amounted to 7.5 million rubles. It reached a record mark in the history of 25.2 million rubles in 1914 [Ли Лэй, Тянь Хуа, 2000, p. 75–77]3. Three branches of the Russian-Asian Bank were opened in Xinjiang (Kashgaria (1900), Kuldja (1903), Tarbagatai (1903)) during the Qing period [Бармин, Дмитриев, 2016, с. 221; Чжао Цзяньфэн, 2014, p. 67; Шэнь Цзяньган, Чжан Лэй, 2013, p. 118].
3. Russia exported cotton, sheep wool, raisins, skins of valuable beasts, leather from Xinjiang. It imported to Xinjiang iron products, agricultural equipment, dishes, fabrics, matches, soap, etc. to Xinjiang [Бармин, Дмитриев, 2016, с. 221].
7 The question of Chinese authorities who knew the Russian language presence became more acute. It happened because of deepening and rising contacts with Russian Empire. The Russian administrators themselves (not without difficulty) provided themselves with the necessary translation reserves. In particular, they opened a school of interpreters in Kuldja in 1884 [Скачков, 1977, с. 244]. On the other hand, official Chinese representatives paid not much attention to the training specialists with knowledge of the Russian language for a long time. While there was developed system of general elementary and special education in the region4, where there was already some experience in teaching Russian.
4. General education in Xinjiang was poorly developed in 18th – the middle of 19th centuries. The school infrastructure grew as the region became more integrated into Qing Empire. In 1878 compulsory primary free education was introduced in Kashgariya and Dzungaria. 37 schools with a three-year period of study were opened. There were lessons of Chinese classical works interpretation [Чжоу Хун, 2001, p. 298]. There were 57 more classes of primary compulsory free education in 1884. The post of inspector of educational institutions was introducedin 1906 in Xinjiang. There were 607 primary schools in 41 administrative units by 1910. Including 205 schools, where teaching was conducted only in Chinese. The total number of students increased to 15,458 people, teachers to 714 people. The amount of financing was 247 thousand tael of silver, while about 90% of the funds came from the local budget. Most primary schools gave a general education: students studied canonical writings, Chinese and Manchu languages, arithmetic, history, geography, drawing, music. The term of study was 9 years. For a short period from 1905 to 1910 in Xinjiang, 10 secondary specialized educational institutions were opened with a term of 5 years (pedagogical, legal, police, several military), in which 735 students were trained [Чжоу Хун, 2001, p. 304; Чжунго шаошу, 1998, p. 226, 228, 232– 233]. One-year courses for training the primary school teachers were opened in connection with the total shortage of teachers at the training colleges [Фан Янь, Го Юаньлинь, 2011, p. 86–87].
8 The first attempts to improve the Russian language in Xinjiang were undertaken by local authorities back in 1790s. Ili military governor (jiangjun) Mongolian Baonin (1734–1808), apparently sensing the need for training such kind of specialists,5 turned to the leadership of Beijing Russian Language School at the Palace Chancellery (Chinese: Neige eluosi wenguan, 内 阁俄罗斯文馆, established in 1708) to provide assistance in organizing the training of local subjects for the Russian language. In 1792 the school sent its graduate to Xinjiang, who in the same year organized the School of the Russian Language in Ili Sultanate (Chinese: Eluosi xue, 俄罗斯学) [Цзунтунилиши’и, 1990, p. 191]. In Chinese schools , in addition to the Russian language, the Tocharian alphabet was also taught [Ма Вэньхуа, 2006, с. 13]. Ten children of local servicemen were ordered to take training [Сичуй цзунтун шилюэ, 2010, цз. 8, цзяосюэ, p. 131]. The students were paid a small scholarship. They were divided into two categories (five people each) taking into account their academic performance. One who took the first place received 1 cyan 1 fen, the second received 1 cyan. In addition, all students received money for meals in the amount of 2 tael silver per month [Цзунтун или ши’и, 1990, p. 191].
5. There is a legend, that the reason of establishing Russian language school was the moment, when an elementary misunderstanding of Chinese authorities the message in Russian almost led to a border conflict between the two empires. In historical literature it is reported that somehow in the borderland Kazakhs captured a Mongolian monk named Samailin and sent him to Russia. From there, he mysteriously returned to his homeland and brought a message in Russian with him. The message stated that in the spring Russian troops in the amount of 50–60 thousand people. will attack Xinjiang. The letter was forwarded to the Ili military governor Baonin. He ordered to train troops to repel attacks of the Russian army. Meanwhile, Samailin and the letter were sent to Beijing for inquiries the circumstances of his stay in Russia. The letter analysis and the inquiries of fugitive revealed the complete inconsistency of the idea of a Russian invasion in Qing Empire borders. The governor was instructed to hastily withdraw troops. This incident led the local leadership to think about the importance of having at least some people familiar with the Russian language (for. cit.: [Лун Кайи, 2013, p. 150]). It is necessary to say that local authorities reaction about aspersion fugitive were largely justified. From 1750’s, began deterioration of bilateral contacts, including caused by Russia's interference in the wars of the Dzungarian Khanate with Qings (1755–1759), the return to Xinjiang of the Volga Kalmyks (Torgut) sworn of Russian state.
9 Three years later the first exams were held at the school. The results was so successful that Baoning sent a report to the capital with a request. He asked to establish school of the Russian language so that in Ili region there were always people who understand Russian and was able to speak it [Ян Юйлинь, 1985, p. 28]. It is very notable that the completed examination materials were delivered to Military Council in Beijing (Chinese: Junjichu, 军机处). They needed to be checked again as it planned (apparently with the help of teachers from Beijing Russian Language School). In case the results were found to be satisfactory, the teacher in the capital was allowed to go back to Beijing [Цзунтун или ши’и, 1990, p. 191]. The results of the appraisal were god enough. In 1795 the mentor returned to the capital and one of the students took his place, which showed the best results in the exam [Цзунтун или ши’и, 1990, p. 191; Сичуй цзунтун шилюэ, 2010, цз. 8, цзяосюэ, p. 131].
10 A curator was appointed to guide the school from among local employees. In organizational and educational plan the school in Ili was subordinated by Beijing Russian Language School. The funding was provided by the local governorship. The term of study was five years after which students passed final exams [Сичуй цзунтун шилюэ, 2010, цз. 8, цзяосюэ, p. 131]. The one who received the first result was appointed to the position of clerk (whale: Bitieshi, 笔帖式) according to their results. He got the assignment of the ninth rank and the issuance of distinction corresponding mark on the headdress but with a temporary assignment to the school as a teacher. If the teacher had been already appointed, the graduate was sent to a vacant position in the department [Цзунтун или ши’и, 1990, p. 191]. The officials appointed to the posts were to participate in the annually re-certification. In case of its successful passage to their teacher at school they were paid a premium amount of the monthly amount of the student's food allowance (2 tael of silver) [Сичуй цзунтун шилюэ, 2010, цз. 8, цзяосюэ, p. 131]. Russian language school in Ili Territory lasted for a long time and was disbanded no earlier than in 1844 and no later than in 1859.
11 It is difficult to say how effective this school was. It has not yet been found a data in historiography on its graduates who have received at least some recognition as interpreters. However, it is important to mentioned, that Xinjiang authorities acquired administrative experience in organizing the teaching of Russian language, which was wholly used by them when opening educational institutions with Russian in future.
12 The study of Russian language in this region began to developer more activity since 1880’s. and after Xinjiang Province formation. Russian language classes were opened in Urumqi, Kuldja, Chuguchak and other places where Russians lived compactly [Чэнь Цзяньпин, 2015, p. 92]. Nevertheless, all these training groups were formed spontaneously. It did not have a quality program for translator’s preparation. It was necessary to create a stable educational structure capable for preparing professional linguists.
13 In 1885 the governor of Xinjiang Province (巡抚) Liu Jintang (刘锦棠, 1844–1894) sent a petition to the Central Office Affairs of All States (Chinese: Zongli geguo shiwu yamen, 总理 各国事务衙门). He asked to send one of the graduates to Beijing School of Foreign Languages Tongwenguan (Chinese: Jingshi tongwenguan, 京师同文馆, opened in 1862, the Russian branch – in April 1863) in Urumqi for organization the teaching of the Russian language for the first time, at least in the central city of the province. In response to the request of an official in Xinjiang they sent Gui Rong. He was a graduate of Tongwenguan, langzhong (head of the branch) of Finance Department and one of the most famous late-period scholars of the Qing Dynasty6.The school was opened in 1887 and received the name ‘State Sino-Russian School in Xinjiang’ (Chinese: Xinjiangsheng guoli zhonge xuetang, 新疆省官立中俄学堂). It was located in the inner part of the city behind the southern gate in the lane of Sishotsan [Синьцзян тучжи, 2015, p. 705].
6. In Chinese and Russian historiography there is some information about Gui Rong (桂荣,贵荣, zi 冬卿). He was one of ‘blue Chinese flag with a border’. He was admitted to the Beijing School of Foreign Languages Tongwenguan in 1867 to the newly opened department of astronomy. However, later he moved to the Russian language department, where he studied under the guidance of the Russian teacher A. F. Popov. With the teacher, Gui Rong had good relations. ‘Dear our teacher, Afanasy Ferapontovich – in particular, in November 1868 he wrote from London to his teacher – you advised us to get acquainted and talk with the Russians, your advice is very good, very much thank you for your concern for us. We would do so’ [РГАДА, ф. 1385, оп. 1, д. 2019, л. 1, 6 об.–7]. In 1878, as an interpreter in the mission of the Minister of the Office for All States, Chong Hou, Gui Rong participated in the negotiations in St. Petersburg on the signing of an agreement on the return to China of the temporarily occupied by the Ili Sultanate (Livadia Treaty). In 1880–1881 he also participated in the border conference on the preparation of St. Petersburg Treaty [Воскресенский, 1995, с. 128, 136]. Since 1879, he was appointed to the position of langzhong (department director) of Finance Department. Later he was temporary assign to Tongwenguan, where he was actively engaged in teaching and translation work. In 1884 he was sent on a study trip to St. Petersburg, where he was credited to the position of ‘Chinese conversational teacher at the eastern faculty of St. Petersburg University’ [Янь Годун, 2006, p. 519]. He worked there till 1885 [Э су чжунго сюэ шоуцэ, 1986, p. 107]. He continued his teaching activities in Tongwenguan upon his return to Beijing. He independently translated, adapted and prepared for publication a textbook – The Basics of Russian History (Chinese: 俄国史略). In 1885 he was hurriedly sent to Xinjiang for Russian language school opening.
14 New governor of Xinjiang province Tao Mo (陶模, 1835–1902) developed first regulatory document for the school Tongwenguan. It consists of four articles and based on statues of Beijing and Guangzhou schools. Russian and Chinese languages teachers were appointed in the school. While teacher of Russian was recommended by Beijing’s Tongwenguan and approved for the post by Department of all states. Chinese teachers were hired from local residents over the age of 20. Their salary was: 60 tael of silver for the teacher of Russian and 40 tael of silver for the teacher of Chinese. Besides, there were two keepers in school with salary 3.6 tael of silver per person.
15 Listeners studied Russian and Chinese languages. After acquisition of language at a sufficient level, they started the translation practice. Russian language lessons were in the first half of the day. Chinese language lessons were in the second one. At the opening of the school, eight students under the age of 20 were admitted. Judging by the school’s statute it is hard to say, whether school recruited applicants annually or after the graduation only. Period of study was three years. There were both monthly and annual competency tests and the annual examination took place in the presence of governor of Xinjiang. Upon completion of educational course students passed the final examination. Those who passed it successfully were assigned to vacant positions of translators. Unsuccessful students had to stay for course repetition. Students received a monthly scholarship – 4.5 tael of silver and 40 jins (about 20 kg.) of wheat flour. In addition, there was a reward for good results of monthly exams passing (for more information about school management system see: [Чжунго цзиньдайЯнъу юньдун шици цзяоюй, 2007, p. 262–263]).
16 The school established itself as a sustainable educational institution and gained a good reputation. In 1892 Tao Mo wrote about the school achievements: “By the results of examinations it can be judged that teaching was successful. It is worth to select the most apt pupils and assign them to positions in Yili and Kashgar” [Сунь Цзыхэ, 1977, p. 473].
17 School was disbanded as an independent teaching facility in 1905 because of reorganization of education system [Хуан Яньпэй, 1930, p. 9]. Teachers and students were redirected to newly founded Xinjiang senior high school (Chinese: Xinjiang gaodeng xuetang, 新疆高等学堂) where English, French and Deutsch lessons of were planned for establishing in addition to Russian [Цин шилу, 2003, p. 469]. Gui Rong, the teacher of Russian language left school in 1906 and by direction of the Central Zhili province Governor Yuan Shikai (袁世凯, 1859– 1916) was transferred to Tianjin for establishing of Russian language lessons [Чэнь Цзяньпин, 2015, p. 94]. In 1908 by direction of Education department school was transformed in Xinjiang primary school [Чжунго цзиньдайГаодэн цзяоюй, 2007, p. 103].
18 Local authorities were alarmed by that kind of status quo. There were worries that quality of workers training with Russian language can get worse7. Back in 1898 fudutun of Ningxia province Manchu Zhirui (志锐, 1853–1912), apparently anticipating the possible changes in system of teaching Russian in Xinjiang, denoted the closeness of Russia and China Xinjiang borders. In view of this he recommended to “always arrange the School of Russian language separately [from other educating facilities], manage it carefully on the basis of the original Statute for the purpose of having enough translators” (reference is made to work of Chen Jiangbin, see [Чэнь Цзяньпин, 2015, p. 92]). In the summer of 1909 Taibu (台布), the military Governor of Ningxia Taiba province, as if continuing the thoughts of Zhirui, sent the report to Department of education, indicating that “study of Russian is mandatory for provinces Gansu and Xinjiang… Now in Gansu and Xinjiang [full secondary] schools have been opened, where Russian is taught. It will be difficult to achieve success by studying it on par with other subjects, it is necessary to provide its study separately [from other subjects]. Graduation must be after five years of study, it will help relations [between China and Russia]” [Чжунго цзиньдайЯнъу юньдун шици цзяоюй, 2007, p. 266].
7. In general, it is hard to say on what the fears of local managers were based. At least, from the point of view of the training content, this institution gave more solid preparation than it was in the Russian school. Students of Russian department, except Russian and Chinese, also studied geography, history, arithmetic and physical education [Чэн Цзяньпин, 2015, p. 93].
19 In the same 1909 the governor of Xinjiang and Gansu provinces Manchu Liankui (联魁, 1849–?) decided to make a separate facility from a Russian branch of Xinjiang high school, by creating the Chinese-Russian school in Urumqi (Chinese: Zhonge xuetang, 中俄学堂) [Цинчао сюй вэньсянь тункао, цз. 170, сюэсяо 14, p. 8666].
20 The school accepted 18 students [Синьцзян тучжи, 2015, p. 706]. In addition to Russian, listeners also studied Chinese as well, arithmetic, history, geography, in other words in education plan the school has learned a lot from Xinjiang high school. In 1911 the lessons of English were organized. If Taibu’s suggestions were taken into account, the period of study at the school was to be five years.
21 For replacement of Gui Rong8, who went to Tianjin in 1906, Department of all states seconded Gui Yu (桂煜),the teacher of Beijing Tongwenguan (who as well as Gui Rong also had eighth rank of translator), who subsequently became a mentor of Chinese-Russian school [ПИА КНР, ф. 03, оп. 5350, д. 001, мкрф. 404–1678, л. 1].
8. There is a little information about Gui Yu. It is only known that in 1881 at the age of twenty he entered the Russian branch of the Beijing Tongwenguan [Цзинши тунвэньгуань, 1916, л. 31об].
22 Speaking about the organizational aspect, the school was significantly strengthened. It was placed under Urumqi Agency for Russian-Chinese trade. This ensured the financial stability of the school. There was a large number of employees: curator ran the school, he had two deputies – first one was responsible for financial issues and school archives, the second one – for educational process, also he was a Chinese language teacher. The Russian language teacher was not involved in administrative tasks. There were also employees of administrative services and divisions in the school personnel, performing different chores work [Синьцзян гэ шу цзюй…, 2008, p. 491].
23 The school was ordered to recruit 18 students – 6 children of Manchurian officials and 12 children of Chinese officials in the age from 15 to 20 years [Синьцзян чжунъэ сюэтан баогаошу, 1911, л. 10об.]. There was a spring and autumn educational program. In the spring half, classes were conducted from 7 am to 11 am in the morning, and from 1 pm to 4 pm in the afternoon. In the autumn half, classes were conducted from 8 am to 12 am in the morning, and from 3 pm to 5 pm in the afternoon. A lot of attention was paid to teaching of Russian, “firstly, students studied the rules of stem-composition (seems like, they were studying the Russian alphabet before that), then they continued with translations of dialogues and writing”. Russian lessons were in the morning and afternoon, Chinese lessons – in 3 pm. Two or three years later Russian history lessons began [Синьцзян чжунъэ сюэтан баогаошу, 1911, л. 10–10об.]. Since autumn of 1911 by order of Gansu and Xinjiang provinces governor Yuan Dahua (袁大化, 1851–1935) lessons on English were established [Цин шилу..., 2003, p. 442].
24 The school provided students with free writing instruments and meals. There was a small scholarship for a personal needs – 1 tael of silver per month, which was indexed with students’ movement to senior courses (second year – 1.5 tael, third – 2 tael, fourth – 4 tael, fifth and sixth – as was in fourth year) [Синьцзян чжунъэ сюэтан баогаошу, 1911, л. 12об., 13 об.]. There is no information in documents, whether the education was fee-based or not. However, with due regard to “Statute about tuition fees for education in non-capital schools of different levels” (京外各学堂收取学费章程), which was signed into law by Department of Education, tuition for education, for example, in primary school was 2 tael of silver – a considerable sum of money9.
9. The document was exempted from payments only by students of all women's schools and students of simple pedagogical schools (pedagogical schools of the first category were also paid) [Чжунго цзиньдай Гаодэн цзяоюй, 2007, p. 346–348].
25 The school introduced five and six year educational courses. Students were divided into two groups, depending on the results of preliminary examinations (the knowledge of Chinese and Manchu languages were assessed). First group had a usual five-year curriculum, and the second group studied Chinese and Manchu languages in extra year [Синьцзян чжунъэ сюэтан баогаошу, 1911, л. 10–10об.]. After four year of studying, on the results of exams, the most successful students from the first group were sent to language practice in the border areas of Russian for a two-year period [Синьцзян чжунъэ сюэтан баогаошу, 1911, л. 10об.]. The school had a serious sponsorship – this allowed to pay the work of teachers at an adequate level. The annual assignation amount was 3874.9 tales of silver in 1909. The Russian language teacher’s salary was 480 tael per year, salary of two curator’s deputies – 360 tael per year. The curator himself held this position concurrently with the work of a local official, and he was paid only on his primary place of employment. There was no any payment from school [Синьцзян гэ шу цзюй…, 2008, с. 491]. Subsequently the sponsorship increased and, at least, since 1911, the school’s budget was 4450 tael of silver [Синьцзян чжунъэ сюэтан баогаошу, 1911, л. 13].
26 Xinjiang China-Russian school lasted for a long time. In 1924 it was transformed into special legal and political school of Xinjiang with lessons of Russian language (Chinese: Xinjiang ewen fazheng zhuanmen xuexiao, 新疆俄文法政专门学校)10.
10. More about school see in, example: [Ма Вэньхуа, 2006, p. 46–48; Чэнь Хуэйшэн, 2002, p. 51–54].
27 Schools were founded not only in Urumqi, but in the other cities as well. Primary school in Chuguchak was opened in 1905, it had six language divisions, including the Russian lessons. The school had quite a lot of students – there were 70 persons at the same time [Гао Лицинь, Тэн Чуньхуа, 2003, с. 126].
28 It is worth to mention that local administrators had a comprehensive way of teaching of local residents in Russian language. Alongside with popularization of Russian language teaching in Xinjiang, they played an active part in secondment of students, who have succeeded in Russian language learning at home, in Russia and Kazakhstan, which was a part of Russian empire back then, for improving of translation skills. In 1903 military governor of Ile Ma Lyang (马 亮, ? –1909) initiated the establishment of special school – Ili preparatory school (Chinese: Yili yangzheng xuetang, 伊犁养正学堂; it was transformed into secondary school “Xingwen” in 1908) – with a purpose of training of students for sending them abroad [Цин шилу…, 2003, с. 442]11. Preparatory school with the same purpose – for sending teenagers to Russia – was established in 1908 in Chuguchak.
11. Ma Liang ordered 40 teenagers aged 15 years who were fluent in Chinese and Manchu languages for training in school. It was assumed, that all students for a certain time would learn the basics of the Russian language. Following the results of the examinations the top ten will be sent to Russia for three years at the expense of the treasury. Those who were educated upon return were again referred to examinations and in the event of their surrender were already ordered to be appointed to posts in the state. At school a rather severe certification system was introduced: students took out weekly, monthly and annual exams (more: [Циндай синьцзян сицзянь, 1997, p. 1283–1285; Ли Цзяоцзяо, 2016, p. 78–79]).
29 It is possible that successful results of sending of first ten young people with retired Xinning fudutun Zhirui in the city of Kazakhstan Verniy (Semirechye Oblast) in September of same 1903 inspired military governor to create the preparatory school12. Governorship issued
12. It should be said that the first young Chinese subjects from Xinjiang were sent to study directly to Russia. It happened in 1901 when three local residents were sent to Tomsk to study at a local Institute of Technology – Bo Xiaochang (博孝昌), Chun En (崇恩), Ilichun (伊立春) [Сибоцзу байкэ цюаньшу, 1995, p. 134].
30 1.8 thousand tael of silver for training of ten student in the period of three years – this was a quite modest amount of money [ПИА КНР, ф. 03, оп. 7223, д. 021, мкрф. 538–2148, л. 1]. Cheju return to his homeland after settlement of first students in Russia, and the Manchu “red without selvage of banner” company commander (佐领) Alhacen (伊勒噶春) and two more students of older age stayed with teenagers. They were supposed to “still learn the Manchu and Chinese language, when they do not study Russian, with the purpose of nonforgetting native language, when they study foreign languages” [АВП РИ, ф. 188, оп. 761, д. 1072, л. 31об.].
31 First group of students stayed in Russian Empire until Ocrober 1906. By return “on summer holidays, all of them (students. – П. Л.) had an exam and their knowledge was found satisfactory” [АВП РИ, ф. 188, оп. 761, д. 1072, л. 31об.]. After retirement of Ma Liang in 1906 ten more students were sent to Russia. In 1908 six of them were so successful, that they were accepted in Russian gymnasium, which was opened especially for our fellow citizens in Kuldja. Two young Chinese citizens were sent for their replacement in Russia [АВП РИ, ф. 188, оп. 761, д. 1072, л. 32]. Seems like, studying of Russian language was so popular, that some of them came to our country not with a help of government but at private expenses [Лун Кайи, 2013, p. 152].
32 That was the history of Russian language teaching in Xinjiang during Qin dynasty’s reign. Geographical closeness to Russia, constantly growing contacts at all levels, temporary joining of Ili sultanate into the Russian Empire – all of this created good background for popularization of Russian language in this region.
33 It is obvious that local government realized how important the training of employees, who spoke Russian, was. That’s why in the end of ХVIII governor of Ili Baoning appealed to Beijing’s authorities with the request of helping in establishment of lessons in our language learning in Ili. Newly founded school became first official teaching facility with lessons in Russian language, established outside of Chinese capital. Further foundations of new school with Russian language lessons confirmed the intentions of local administrators to encourage his teaching in Xinjiang. Governors in Xinjiang also were also the first mentors who initiated the assignment of young Chinese citizens in Russian Empire for language improvement.
34 The school graduates with Russian language were appointed to vacant positions in public authorities, first of all, where was the need in language experts. Some of them started the diplomatic work, some of them devoted themselves to teaching activities, spreading the Russian language and knowledge about Russia in Xinjiang13. New students were appointed to vacant positions.
13. For instance, a student named Sarachun who returned from Kazakhstan in 1906 taught at a full secondary school in the Huijuan district of Xinjiang. Later he became an adviser to the Chinese Embassy in Alma-Ata. Graduated Guan Qinglian was a consul in Alma-Ata. Then he transferred to a teaching job at the Xinjiang Institute, where he taught Russian. His study companion in Russia, Yan Dashan, also initially worked at the consulate in Almaty, after which he was transferred to Beijing University for teaching Russian there [Сибоцзу байкэ цюаньшу, 1995, p. 134]. Another graduated from Xinjiang Russian Language School, Chiang Yongqing, taught Zhiyuya's recommendations at the School of Russian Language in Gansu Province [Чэнь Цзяньпин, 2015, p. 96].
35 However, it is impossible unambiguously to value the actions of Xinjiang’s authorities in Russian language promotion. The statutes of educational facilities, created in 1880s, were supplemented afterwards, but they did not solve the problem in the first place. There was no elaboration of curriculum, and the studying was rather chaotic, without any standard. Nowadays there is no any information both about educational material used by students and about educational process itself. Moreover, Statute of the same Tongwenguan was a basis for development of first regulatory document for Xinjiang Chinese-Russian School and back in 60s of ХIХ century methodical base of teaching was created by Russian teacher A. F. Popov.
36 One more important thing that there were no Russian mentor in Xingjian’s schools with Russian language lessons. Of course, in the latest years of existence of those teaching facilities, there were some Chinese teachers, who had practical experience in Russia, but it seems like it was not enough for comprehensive teaching. In the end, as correctly noted by the secretary of the Consulate in Chuguchak, N. V. Bogoyavlenskiy, “the Chinese learned well how to read and write in Russian, but their oral skills are quite bad. This is a consequence of the fact that even their teachers are not so good in speaking [Богоявленский, 1906, с. 311]14. The reason, why Russian teachers were not in favor in schools, was either that local administrators did not want to make working contacts with foreigners or, as it was at school in Ili region, just because “one does not want to give a good salary to teacher, and small payment is not attractive for a decent Russian teacher” [Богоявленский, 1906, с. 312].
14. Another witness of events was the future President of Finland Karl Gustav Mannerheim. In 1906–1908 he was still a colonel of the Russian army and participating in a reconnaissance expedition in the north and west of Qing Empire. After visiting Urumqi in the summer of 1908 he reported that the Russian consulate had assigned him a Chinese translator of the Russian language named Gui (most likely Gui Yu, then working in Urumqi), and “to understand the proposals that he made, considerable efforts were required” [Ма Дахань, 2004, p. 258].
37 Also, it is important for mentioning that, despite the great attention of local administrators to the teaching of Russian language in Xinjiang, the amount of schools with our language was too small, and this was an obstacle for popularization of Russian language in this region. In view of this, abovementioned military governor Taibu noted: “The study of Russian language is an urgent need for provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang. There are specially established schools [for teaching Russian] in Xinjiang, which are more than 20 years old, but there is no success” [Цин шилу..., 2003, p. 506]. In other words, having the educational basis, funding and most, importantly, the needs in experts of Russian language, the teaching was very poor. There is information in historical literature about only a few graduates of educational facilities who knew the Russian language and who found the jobs for which they were educated. The destiny of the most of the students and graduates remains unknown.
38 Nevertheless, Xinjiang became the place where the development of teaching Russian language in Chinese regions officially began. The insignificant results in this direction were explained by the lack of a stable humanitarian policy of the authorities. Moreover they orientated more on the military strengthening and technological power of the region. All that factors was justified by an active foreign policy of world powers, including Russia in Asia region.


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