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Manchuria is a region (ca. 1,550,000 sq. km) in Northeast Asia which is today a part of People's Republic of China. It was home to the Manchus. The pinyin transcription of Manchuria in Chinese is Manzhou (滿洲), but Chinese seldom refer to the region in that name because of its separatist connotations and because it invokes the memory of the Japanese occupation and puppet state of Manchukuo. Instead, Chinese almost universally refer to the region as 'the Northeast' (in pinyin 'Dong-Bei').

The region borders Mongolia in the west, Russia in the north and North Korea in the east. Since 1956 it has comprised Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Liaoning provinces.


The region is the original homeland of the Manchu rulers of China during the Ming and Qing (=Manchu) dynasties. To the south, the region was separated from China proper by the willow palisade[?], a ditch and embankment planted with willows intended to keep the Manchus out of China during the Ming dynasty and intended to keep Han Chinese out of Manchuria during the Qing dynasty.

To the north, the boundary with Siberia was fixed by the Treaty of Nerchinsk[?] (1689) as running along the watershed of the Stanovoi[?] mountains. South of the Stanovoi[?], the basin of the Amur and its tributaries belonged to the Manchu Empire. North of the Stanovoi[?], the Uda valley and Siberia belonged to the Russian Empire. In 1858, a weakening Manchu China was forced to cede Manchuria north of the Amur to Russia at the Treaty of Aigun[?]. In 1860, at the Treaty of Peking, the Russians managed to extort a further huge slice of Manchuria east of the Ussuri[?], so that Manchuria was divided into a Russian half known as "Outer Manchuria" and a remaining Chinese half known as "Inner Manchuria". In modern literature, 'Manchuria' usually refers to Inner (Chinese) Manchuria. [cf. Inner and Outer Mongolia]. Haishenwei was renamed Vladivostok. Russian Manchuria, Kirin (=Jilin) and Heilungkiang (=Heilongjiang) are drained by the Amur; Liaoning faces the Yellow Sea.

Brief History

Manchuria was the home of nomadic tribes of Manchu, Ulchi[?], Goldi[?] and Nanai[?]. Various ethnic groups or kingdoms including the Fuyu[?], Goguryeo, Xianbei, Khitan, Bohai (Mohe[?]) and Jurchen have risen into power in Manchuria.

The Government of the Han Chinese loosely controlled southern Manchuria up until the Song dynasty. During the Song dynasty, the Khitan set up the Liao dynasty in Manchuria. Later, the Jurchen (Manchu) overthrew the Liao and formed the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). In 1644 the Manchu conquered China and established the Qing dynasty (1644-1912)

It was known for its shamanism, opium and tigers. The Manchu imperial symbol was a tiger with a ball of opium in its mouth. Manchu Emperors were, first and foremost, accomplished shamans. By the 19th century, Manchu rule had become increasingly Sinicized and, along with other borderlands of the Chinese Empire such as Mongolia and Tibet, came under the influence of colonial powers. England nibbled at Tibet, France at Hainan, Germany at Shantung while Russia encroached upon Turkestan and Outer Mongolia, having annexed Outer Manchuria.

Inner Manchuria as well came under strong Russian influence with the building of the Chinese eastern railway through Harbin to Vladivostok. Japan replaced Russian influence in Inner Manchuria as a result of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05. Between World War I and World War II Manchuria became a political and military battleground. Japanese influence extended into Outer Manchuria in the wake of the Russian Revolution but Outer Manchuria had reverted to Soviet Russian control by 1925. Japan took advantage of the disorder following the Russian Revolution to occupy outer Manchuria but Soviet successes and American economic pressure forced Japanese withdrawal.

During the period of the warlords in China, Chang Tso-Lin established himself in inner Manchuria but, being too independent for the increasing Japanese influence, he was murdered and the last Manchu emperor, Pu-Yi, placed on the the throne as a Japanese puppet and inner Manchuria was proclaimed as an 'independent' state, "Manchukuo". Inner Manchuria was thus formally detached from China by Japan in the 1930s and, with Japanese investment and rich natural resources, became an industrial powerhouse. Prior to World War II, Manchuria was colonized by the Japanese and Manchukuo (in pinyin, 'Manzhouguo') was used as a base to invade China, a foolhardy, unnecessary and expensive (in men, matériel and political integrity) move that was as costly to Japan as the invasion of Russia was to Germany, and for the same reasons. After the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945 the Soviet Union invaded from Russian Manchuria as part of its declaration of war against Japan. From 1945 to 1948, Manchuria (Inner Manchuria) was a base area for the People's Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War and with the encouragement of Soviet Russia, Manchuria was used as a staging ground during the Chinese Civil War for the Chinese Communists, victorious in 1949.

In the 1960s, Manchuria became the site of the most serious tension between Soviet Russia and Communist China. The Chinese claimed that the Russian seizures of Outer Manchuria in 1858 and 1860 were acts of imperialism and that Russian Manchuria should be returned to China. Despite exchanges of fire across the Amur, tension has subsided and Outer Manchuria remains Russian while Inner Manchuria remains Chinese.

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