Siberia--From Mongolia to the Arctic

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    Siberia--From Mongolia to the ArcticAuthor(s): Kathleen BarnesSource: Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 5, No. 10 (May 6, 1936), pp. 93-97Published by: Institute of Pacific RelationsStable URL: .Accessed: 16/06/2014 14:16

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    VOL. V ? 10 NEW YORK, MAY 6, 1936 Annual Suhscription $2.50 ' ' Single Copies - - .23



    China Facing Difficult Afforestation Program Philippine Sugar Quota Increased Possible Abolition of Extrality in Manchoukuo Japanese Rubber Goods Displacing Foreign Products China Reorganizes Government-Owned Shipping Chemistry Opens New Textile Possibilities


    Kathleen Barnes

    A district of the Soviet Union that is but little known to the outside world is the so-called East

    Siberian Region. Events of the international scene or

    startling economic developments have called attention to many of the other districts which make up the vast

    territory of the U.S.S.R., while leaving this area to be considered as a vague hinterland. The East Siberian

    Region, however, is of great importance both because of its economic potentialities which are being exploited, and because of the inclusion within its expanse of the eastern back door to the Union and one of the new front doors to Europe.

    Running somewhat diagonally across the center of

    Siberia, the Region borders to the south on the Mon-

    golian Peoples' Republic. Many be-

    Strategie lieve that in event of war, the Japanese Importance will advance through this district in an

    attempt to cut off the Soviet Far East. The mutual assistance pact which the U.S.S.R. re-

    cently concluded with the Mongolian Republic, how?

    ever, enables the Soviets to face an enemy without

    waiting until the latter is actually battering at this back door. Here in Siberia, moreover, is located the

    Buriat-Mongolian Autonomous Republic, whose cul- tural and economic advance under Soviet rule is not to be overlooked in any consideration of the future of all the Mongols.

    To the north, the Region touches the Arctic Sea, through which the Soviets have opened the Northern Sea Passage, making possible trade routes east to the Pacific or west to the Atlantic; the northern part of the Region is being industrially exploited. From north to south, in accordance with the general Soviet objective of a rounded economic development of all the districts of the Union, the resources of the Region are being

    investigated; plans are being laid for great hydroelec- tric development; the timber industry is increasing; coal mining is being pushed and a large ferro-metallur-

    gical base may be built; machine-building is progress- ing along two definite lines; light industry is growing upon the base of the natural raw materials of the

    Region; agriculture is advancing by increase of live stock and grain production.

    Lying between Western Siberia and the more easterly regions of the Yakutsk Republic and the Far Eastern

    Region, the East Siberian Region Huge covers a vast area of about 1,400,000 Land Area square miles. (The district under con?

    sideration is the Region as it existed before the creation of Krasnoiarsk as a separate admin? istrative region.) The climate is of the general con? tinental type, slightly modifled around Lake Baikal by the presence of that large expanse of water; much of the district lies within the area of perpetually frozen soil. The great Siberian plain ends in this Region; east of the Enisei the land "is gathered into folds and furrowed by powerful upheavals." South of Baikal, the area is definitely mountainous, in part with the

    gradual slopes of a watershed, in part Alpine, rising at one spot to the height of 2.17 miles.

    The frozen tundra of the north changes to the forest of the taiga, which in turn gives way to ploughlands and pasture. Through the forests run the many rivers of the Region?means of transportation and potential source of hydroelectric power. Fur-bearing animals

    abound; so do fish, both in the rivers and in Lake

    Baikal, the fifth largest and the deepest lake in the world. The mineral wealth has only recently begun to be adequately explored and is as yet but little ex-

    ploited. It is known, however, to be both great and

    ? 93 ?

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  • 94 Siberia ? From Mongolia to the Arctic May 6

    varied. Realization of the potentialities of the area is somewhat hampered by the smallness of population? slightly over three million in 1933.

    The general scheme of industrialization that is em-

    bracing all of Siberia includes the East Siberian Region. There is as yet, however, no great center of industry such as Kuznetsk, Cheliabinsk or Magnitogorsk. Neither has the district quite the same strategic im-

    portance as has the Far Eastern Region, since it is bounded on most of its southern border by the friendly Mongolian Republic. The capital to be invested in the East Siberian Region during the second Five-Year Plan is only a little more than half that invested in the Far Eastern Region, where industrialization is being pushed, partly for strategic reasons and partly because of the extreme backwardness of the district. (See "Indus? trialization of the Soviet Far East," Far Eastern Sur?

    vey, April 10, 1935, pp. 49-53). The big feature of the

    development in the East Siberian Region is scheduled to begin in the third Piatiletka with the building of

    Angarastroi. The river Angara flows out of the lower end of Lake

    Baikal, and runs north until, under the name of Upper Tunguska, it joins the river Enisei. For

    Angarastroi years, the Soviets have been consider-

    ing how best to use the tremendous reserves of power which these rivers contain. A plan to construct a dam and power station with a capacity many times greater than that of Dnieperstroi has been criticized by foreigners as impractical in view of the lack of industries to utilize the power that would be

    generated. This question of industrial utilization of the power has of course been given considerable atten- tion by the Soviets, and as more has been learned of the resources of the district tentative plans have been made for the centering of various industries near

    Angara. The second Five-Year Plan, it was declared in its

    directives, would create, through general industrial

    development of the Region and through the building of non-hydroelectric stations, the necessary foundation for opening up the power resources of the Angara. "By the end of the second Five-Year Plan an exact working hypothesis must be formed, on the basis of further

    research, for solving the Angara-Enisei problem, and a technical project must be worked out for one of the

    hydroelectric stations." The present intent is to construct a dam on the

    Angara at Baikal, which will possess the advantage of having the lake to regulate the water level. It will be five miles upstream from Irkutsk, which is already an industrial center and which is located on the Trans- Siberian Railroad, thereby eliminating the problem of

    transportation. The water-drop is to be 92 feet and the length of the dam 1,969 yards. The estimated

    yearly production of current is 3,600 million kilowatt

    hours, about eighteen times that of Dnieperstroi. The cost of one kilowatt hour is estimated at 0.4 kopecks.

    Near Irkutsk lie the coal-fields of Cheremkhovo with 75 billion metric tons of coal only 7 or 8 miles from

    the railroad. This coal has been proved New suitable for metallurgical coke, al-

    Metallurgi- though last year it had not yet been cal Base tested in a high-speed furnace. Iron,

    the other necessity for metallurgy, was not believed to exist in the Region until 1931-32, when reserves were discovered which are now given third

    place in the Union, with an estimated extent of 629.5 million metric tons of iron ore and 319.3 million tons of ferrous quartzite. The most important deposit is the Angara-Ilim field. If the necessary transportation can be provided the East Siberian Region can become a large iron and steel center.

    The Angara power could be used in connection with this by developing the production of ferro-alloys. Quartzite is available for ferro-silicon and the manga- nese for ferro-manganese can be obtained at Olkhonsk on Lake Baikal and in Trans-Baikal. It has likewise been suggested that synthetic rubber should be pro? duced here, since that also consumes large amounts of electric current and the necessary lime and salt can be obtained. Aluminum production has been also

    mentioned, for though few reserves of bauxites have

    yet been discovered, nevertheless the clays near Cher? emkhovo can be treated for aluminum oxide.

    The development of a lumber industry could also be brought about in conjunction with the Angara pro- ject, with the saw-mills running on electricity. And for such an industry the Region has abundant supplies. Its wooded area composes about one fourth of that of the whole Union and in the past has been little used. In fact it was estimated that in 1932 only about 14% of the yearly growth of the timber was utilized. Of the

    911,000 square miles of wooded area, 834,000 lie south of the 66 parallel. The main varieties of trees are pine, larch, cedar and fir, with birch and aspen appearing more rarely; the Region is the best of the Union for its supply of cedar. The best timber growth lies along the river valleys, which is fortunate as the rivers

    provide the only means of transportation, north of Baikal.

    This timber can be used in many ways besides the usual saw-mill products. It can be used for charcoal

    in connection with metallurgy, for Vast paper, and for a wood-chemical indus- Timber try. It is urged that as much as pos- Reserves sible of the waste from lumbering and

    from the sawmills should be utilized in these ways. Another point which has been stressed is the need for turning out timber products easy to

    transport, such as veneer, shingles, ready-made parts for houses, etc. This is particularly important since a

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  • 1936 Siberia ? From Mongolia to the Arctic 95


    large amount of the lumber must be used in other parts of the Union or exported through Igarka, the Arctic

    port. Over 12% of the total second Piatiletka funds for this region are being invested in the development of the timber industry. Four timber units?one of them for the construction of ready-built houses?which were begun in the first Five-Year Plan are to be com?

    pleted, and five new ones are to be built. Likewise

    planned are one veneer factory, two furniture plants, one cellulose-paper combinat, and two wood-chemical concerns.

    Other building materials will also be manufactured. Cement is to be produced for the first time in the

    Region, following the completion of a factory in this second Piatiletka. Brick factories will also be built, and a mechanized window-glass factory in Ulan-Ude

    (formerly Verkhneudinsk) will be completed.

    Although the big hydroelectric development will not

    begin until 1938, several small steam-electrical plants are being constructed during the present five-year per? iod (1932-1937): one with a capacity of 24,000 kilo- watts in the Irkutsk-Cheremkhovo district, one in

    Ulan-Ude, and several others. Similarly, although the

    big coal and iron developments are not yet under way, coal mining is being pushed and some ferro-metallurgi- cal development has been started.

    In 1932, it was estimated that the coal reserves of the Region were at least equal to those of Kuznetsk

    Basin and offered a greater variety. Large Coal Besides the Cheremkhovo reserves, Investment there is an important coal bed in the

    Tungusia Basin from which coal can be procured for the boats on the North Sea Route and for the river fleet. There is also an important deposit in Trans-Baikal as well as many local deposits. The varieties of coal include bituminous and anthracite, coking and oil-producing. In 1928, production reached

    only 880,000 tons, but in 1932 the output had increased

    to 2,200,000 tons and it is planned to mine 4,500,000 tons in 1937. Particular emphasis is being laid on coal production during the current Plan and 21% of the capital invested in the heavy industry of the Region goes into this branch.

    An attempt is now being made to free the Region from dependence on other districts for its supply of ferrous-metals through the construction of a new metal-

    lurgical plant at Petrovsk in Trans-Baikal. As to non- ferrous metals, figures for gold production are not in? cluded in the Plan; nor are they obtainable elsewhere. A considerable amount of gold is, however, known to be produced in this district and Irkutsk is the technical and training center not only for the gold industry of this region but also for Yakutsk and the Far Eastern


    Wolfram, tin, mica and fluor-spar exist as a basis for non-ferrous metallurgy. The development of mica in the first Piatiletka had already made this area the main source of supply for this mineral so essential to the country's electric industry. The tin which is found in Trans-Baikal is to be exploited, and the output of

    fluor-spar begun at the end of the first Five-Year Plan is to be developed.

    Of the non-metallic minerals, graphite is being ex?

    ploited and asbestos exists in the Buriat-Mongolian Autonomous Republic; fire-proof clay

    Exploiting and kaolin is to be found near the Mineral Khantinsk china factory in the Irkutsk Resources district. A most important mineral for

    both the food and chemical industries is salt, which is also to be found in the Irkutsk district. One salt factory now being completed will have an annual output of 100,000 tons and another one recently begun will produce 150,000 tons each year. The min? eral resources are to be further explored; 64.5 million rubles were set aside for geological investigation work

    during the current Plan.

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  • 96 Siberia ? From Mongolia to the Arctic May 6

    The Region at present is concentrating its efforts on two lines of machinery production?machinery for gold industry and for transport. Development along these lines had already been begun in the first Five-Year Plan. It is intended to make the East Siberian Region the main Soviet base of supply for the heavy machinery of the gold industry. In Ulan-Ude there is under con? struction a railroad repair shop with a capacity of 1,080 locomotives, 2,000 passenger and 12,000 freight cars. This shop will also turn out spare parts for all railroads of Eastern Siberia and the Far Eastern Region, and will be the central repair base for them. In Irkutsk there is being constructed a plant for building freight cars, with a capacity of 10,000 four-wheeled cars.

    The foundations of the light and food industries were laid during the first Five-Year Plan. During the cur- rent Plan, there will be built a cloth combine operating on the raw materials produced in the Region, a shoe

    factory with a capacity of four million pairs, a plant for producing sheepskin coats, and others. Two meat combines are to be completed, as well as a fish cannery on Lake Baikal, a canned-milk factory, two soap plants, two refrigerators of 1,000 ton capacity, and various mills.

    As may be judged from the nature of the above fac?

    tories, live stock is an important feature of the region's agriculture. In 1932 the East Siberian

    Emphasis Region contained 3.2% of all the long- on Live horned cattle in the U.S.S.R., 4.0% of Stock the horses, 2.7% of the sheep and goats,

    and 4.4% of the swine. According to the Plan, by 1937 this Region must show an increase over the 1932 figure of 40.3% in its cattle, of 9.6% in its horses, of 56.0% in its sheep and goats and of 187% in its swine. From the 1935 plans for live stock in?

    crease, which were published last year, it was apparent that there had been a certain amount of stepping up in the live stock plan, but due to the new regionalization which has been introduced since the formation of the second Five-Year Plan, it is impossible to compute to what extent this has affected the Region now under consideration. The herds are to be improved by cross-

    breeding and better feeding. The district itself is rich in pasturage and hay-raising land.

    Wheat and oats are the two main grain crops of the district. While the total area sown to grain is rela-

    tively not very large?in 1932 only 1.9% of the whole Union?still it is hoped that by broadening it and

    increasing the yield, the Region may not only be able to supply its own needs but also to supplement the

    supply of neighboring eastern districts. Of the indus? trial crops, flax and hemp are the only ones that are

    grown to any appreciable extent. As regards collectivi- zation and mechanization of agriculture, 71% of the sown area had been socialized by 1932, and the total

    capacity of tractors in use was 45,000 horse power.

    It is planned to raise this to 125,000 horse power in 1937.

    A factor of utmost importance in the realization of the potentialities of the area, is the development of

    transportation. The Trans-Siberian New transverses the southern part of the

    Railway Region, and three new pieces of rail Construction construction planned for completion

    before the end of 1937 are also in the south. One of these is a short line from Cheremkhovo to the Angara, another, the Lena line, will connect that river with the Trans-Siberian, and a third line will run from Ulan-Ude to the border of Outer Mongolia. The second of these will be important not only for the

    country through which it runs, but also for the develop? ment of the Yakutsk Republic, from and to which

    goods may be transported by means of the Lena River. The third will be the line over which most of Soviet-

    Mongolian trade will be carried. The northern part of the East Siberian Region is still, however, largely dependent on river transport, although air-service has been established along the Enisei river; this service, it is now reported, will be open twelve months of the

    year. (For further details regarding transportation see "Basic Transport Facilities in Siberia," Far Eastern

    Survey, July 31, 1935, pp. 113-119). The great wealth of the East Siberian Region needs

    to be further explored, transportation must be devel?

    oped, and the handicap of a small population must be overcome, before the district can make its full contri- bution to the growth of the Union. Nonetheless there are two areas in which progress has been especially significant.

    Since 1924 there has been a growing number of boats

    taking part in the yearly expeditions to the Kara Sea, into which flows the Enisei River, and last year the Soviets proved the feasibility of commercial transpor? tation through the whole of the Soviet Arctic Sea. (See Far Eastern Survey, Nov. 20, 1935, p. 187.) An impor? tant point in this opening of the Soviet North is the new arctic port of Igarka, a town so far north that a

    June midnight is lighter than a December noon. It lies somewhat south of the mouth of the Enisei, which, however, is navigable as far as Igarka by ocean steam- ers. This port is the doorway through which the timber and other wealth of the Northern part of the Region can be shipped either to Europe or to Vladivostok.

    During the first Five-Year Plan, a timber combine was constructed here, which handles the lumber floated down the river from the interior.

    The opening of the Arctic has included a great deal of exploratory work, both on the navigable possibilities

    of the rivers flowing into the Arctic Oil in Sea and on the natural wealth of the the Arctic north. A considerable number of min?

    eral deposits has been located, which in

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  • 1936 China Facing Difficult Afforestation Program 97

    the East Siberian Region has included graphite, coal,

    magnetite, iceland spar and others. There is a gra?

    phite plant at Igarka, a poli-metallic combine is being constructed at Noril further north, there is a salt mine

    at Nordvik on the Taimyr peninsula, and it is re-

    ported that oil has been located there. Two wells have

    been sunk both of which have proved oil. A coal and

    air base is being constructed on Dickson's Island, north

    of the Gulf of the Enisei, and there is a fish cannery at the mouth of the river. Hospitals and schools are

    springing up, and agricultural stations are being established.

    This pushing back of the northern frontier, and the

    extension of industrial life to the Arctic Circle is per-

    haps one of the most striking efforts of the Soviets in

    their endeavor to utilize to the full the resources of the

    country. The second outstanding achievement con-

    cerns the Buriat-Mongolian Autonomous Republic, which lies in the southeastern portion of the Region. The development here is of significance not only for

    the Union, but also for the rest of Asia, since many of

    the inhabitants of this Republic?equal in size to the

    combined territories of Germany, France and England ?are racially kin to the Mongols of Inner and Outer

    Mongolia and of Manchoukuo. Under the Soviet re-

    gime, industry, which earlier was very small, has been

    developed, the nomads are being settled on the land, and a considerable amount of cultural work has been

    carried on. In 1923 Buriat Mongolia contained only 16 indus?

    trial establishments with a total of 854 workers and a

    production equal to 2,600,000 rubles. (These figures do

    not include the gold industry.) Ten years later, there

    were 23 establishments with 3,600 workers and an out?

    put of 12,700,000 rubles. In 1923 the total number of

    manual and office workers was 10,700; by 1934 this

    had grown to 52,700. A considerable amount of geo-

    logical surveying has uncovered reserves of coal, iron,

    wolfram, oil and natural gas and other minerals. Sev-

    eral of the main factories of the whole East Siberian

    Region are located at Ulan-Ude, the capital of the

    Republic. These include the railroad repair shop,

    glass factory, and meat combinat. Of considerable

    importance is a new plant which is being built to pro- duce tungsten from the wolfram deposits which are claimed to be the largest in the Union.

    Like the Mongolian Peoples' Republic to the South, the Buriat-Mongolian Republic is important for its

    live stock. In 1932, its herds composed Progress in nearly one third of those of the whole Buriat- Region. According to directives of the

    Mongolia Central Committee of the Party, the

    Republic is expected to become the

    strongest live stock base of the East. The herds were

    greatly depleted, as they were elsewhere in the Union, during the years of resistance to collectivization, but since 1933 they are again increasing. One of the main

    problems in agriculture has been the transforming of a nomadic or semi-nomadic population into one settled in collectives. Between the years 1931 and 1934 about

    12,775 households were settled. The settlers were given considerable help by the government. In crop raising, the Republic has increased the number of sown hectares from 183,500 in 1923 to 407,800 in 1934, and the trac- tors used in agriculture have increased from 111 in 1931 to 713 in 1934.

    Educational facilities have greatly increased under Soviet rule and there are several institutions for higher technical and scientific training. The national culture is being preserved and encouraged along the lines of the usual Soviet Nationality Policy. Perhaps the most

    convincing evidence of the benefits that the Buriats have received during the Soviet r^gime is the fact that while for the thirty years previous to sovietization the Buriat population had decreased by 10%, in 1923 there was an increase of 3.9%, in 1926 of 8.2%, in 1927 of

    9.4% and in 1929 of 17.3%. This is the Republic into which the Eastern back-

    door opens and which the Buriats are prepared to de- fend. In 1933, Voroshilov, the head of the Red Army, stated that the officers and men of the Buriat Cavalry Division "in their training and in their class conscious- ness equal our best sections." There are some grounds for believing that the Pan-Mongolians dream of sepa- rating this Republic from the Soviet Union. It is con- ceivable that this dream may prove a boomerang. PRINCIPAL SOURCES:

    N. Mikhaylov, Soviet Geography, London, 1935; U. S. Dept. of Commerce, Russian Economic Notes; The Angara- Enisei Problem, Moscow, 1932 (in Russian); Economic Geography, Moscow, 1934 (in Russian) ; The Industrializa? tion of the Soviet East, Moscow, 1934 (in Russian); Isvestia (In Russian); A. Khavin, Socialist Industrializa? tion of National Reptiblics and Districts, Moscow, 1933 (in Russian) ; A. P. Kurilovich and N. P. Naumov, Soviet Tungusia, Moscow, 1934 (In Russian) : The Large Soviet Encychpedia, Moscow (in Russian); The Revolutionary East, No. 2, Moscow, 1935 (in Russian) ; The Second Five- Year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the U.S.S.R., Moscow, 1934 (in Russian) ; B. I. Sobolev- skii and P. M. Tatarinov, ed., The Nonmetallic Minerals of Soviet Asia, Moscow, 1932 (in Russian).



    The need for careful forestry work in China is em-

    phasized with every report of floods and famine. The people and the government are desperately aware of the close correlation between the condition of the

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    Article Contentsp. 93p. 94p. 95p. 96p. 97

    Issue Table of ContentsFar Eastern Survey, Vol. 5, No. 10 (May 6, 1936), pp. 93-104Siberia--From Mongolia to the Arctic[pp. 93-97]Significant DevelopmentsChina Facing Difficult Afforestation Program [pp. 97-98]Possible Abolition of Extrality in Manchoukuo [pp. 98-99]China Reorganizes Government-Owned Shipping [pp. 99-100]Philippine Sugar Quota Increased [pp. 100-101]Japanese Rubber Goods Displacing Foreign Products [pp. 101-102]Chemistry Opens New Textile Possibilities [pp. 102-103]

    Back Matter [pp. ]


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