Harbin

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Harbin
哈尔滨市
Sub-provincial city
From top: Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Hongbo Square and surrounding, Harbin Xinhua Bookstore, Saint Sofia Church, Harbin Mosque, and the Ji Le Temple
From top: Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Hongbo Square and surrounding, Harbin Xinhua Bookstore, Saint Sofia Church, Harbin Mosque, and the Ji Le Temple
Flag of Harbin
Flag
Official seal of Harbin
Seal
Nickname(s): Ice City, Oriental Paris, Oriental Moscow, The pearl on the swan's neck
Harbin (red) in Heilongjiang (orange)
Harbin (red) in Heilongjiang (orange)
Harbin is located in Heilongjiang
Harbin
Harbin
Location of the city center in Heilongjiang
Coordinates: 45°45′N 126°38′E / 45.750°N 126.633°E / 45.750; 126.633Coordinates: 45°45′N 126°38′E / 45.750°N 126.633°E / 45.750; 126.633
Country People's Republic of China
Province Heilongjiang
County-level divisions 18[1]
Settled before 1115
Incorporated
 - Town

1898
 - County 1905-10-31
 - Municipality 1921-02-05
Government[2]
 • secretary of a municipal committee of the CPC Lin Duo (林铎, since April, 2012)
 • Mayor Song Xibin (宋希斌, since January, 2012)
Area[3]
 • Sub-provincial city 53,100 km2 (20,500 sq mi)
 • Urban 7,068 km2 (2,729 sq mi)
 • Metro 7,068 km2 (2,729 sq mi)
Elevation 150 m (488 ft)
Population (2010)[4]
 • Sub-provincial city 10,635,971
 • Density 200/km2 (520/sq mi)
 • Urban 5,282,083
 • Urban density 750/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
 • Metro 5,878,939
 • Metro density 830/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Time zone China Standard (UTC+8)
Postal code 150000
Area code(s) 451
License plate prefixes A,L
GDP (2013) CNY 501 billion
 - per capita CNY 49,565
City flowers Lilac
Website www.harbin.gov.cn
[3]
Harbin
Haerbin name.JPG
"Harbin", as written in Chinese
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Literal meaning a place for drying fishing nets or
laughter like coast
Manchu name
Manchu script Harbin-manchu.png
Romanization Harbin
Russian name
Russian About this sound Харби́н 
Romanization Kharbin

Harbin is the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang, China's northernmost province. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, Harbin is the eighth-most populous metropolitan among Chinese cities, as well as the most populous city in Northeast China.[5] According to the 2010 census, the city's urban area has 5,878,939 inhabitants, while the total population of the sub-provincial city is up to 10,635,971.[4] Harbin serves as a key political, economic, scientific, cultural and communications hub in Northeast China, as well as an important industrial base of the nation.[6]

Harbin, which was originally a Manchurian word meaning "a place for drying fishing nets"[6], grew from a small rural settlement on the Songhua River to become one of the largest cities in Northeast China. Founded in 1898 with the coming of the Trans-Manchurian Railway, the city first prospered as a region inhabited by an overwhelming majority of the immigrants from the Russian Empire.[7]

Having the most bitterly cold winters among major Chinese cities, Harbin is referred to as the Ice City (Chinese: 冰城; pinyin: Bīng chéng) for its well-known winter tourism and recreations.[8] Harbin is notable for its beautiful ice sculptures in winter and its Russian legacy, and it still plays an important part in Sino-Russian trade today. In the 1920s, the city was considered China's fashion capital since new designs from Paris and Moscow reached there first before arriving in Shanghai.[9] On 22 June 2010, Harbin was appointed a UNESCO "City of Music" as part of the Creative Cities Network.[10]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Human settlement in the Harbin area dates from at least 2200 BC (late Stone Age). In 1115 CE, Jin dynasty established their capital, Shangjing (上京 or Upper Capital) Huining Fu (会宁府), in today's Acheng District of Harbin.[11] However, the region of Harbin was still largely rural until the 1800s. There were only over ten villages and about 30,000 people in Harbin region by the end of the 19th century.[12]

International City[edit]

A small village in 1898 grew into the modern city of Harbin.[13] Polish engineer Adam Szydłowski drew plans for the city following the construction of the Trans-Manchurian Railway, or Chinese Eastern Railway (Russian: "Китайско-Восточная железная дорога"; Kitaysko-Vostochnaya zheleznaya doroga or Russian: КВЖД; KVZhD), which the Russian Empire had financed.[7] The Russians selected Harbin as the base of their administration over this railway and the Chinese Eastern Railway Zone. The Chinese Eastern Railway extended the Trans-Siberian Railway: substantially reducing the distance from Chita to Vladivostok and also linking the new port city of Dalny (Dalian) and the Russian Naval Base Port Arthur.

St. Nicolas Orthodox, a Russian Orthodox church in Harbin, circa 1940, destroyed during the Cultural Revolution

During the Russo-Japanese War (1904–5), Russia used Harbin as its base for military operations in Northeastern China. Following Russia's defeat, its influence declined. Several thousand nationals from 33 countries, including the United States, Germany, and France moved to Harbin. Sixteen countries established consulates to serve their nationals, who established several hundred industrial, commercial and banking companies. Churches were rebuilt for Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, Lutheran/German Protestant, and Polish Catholic Christians. Chinese capitalists also established businesses, especially in brewing, food and textiles. Harbin became the economic hub of northeastern China and an international metropolis.[12] In 1913 the Chinese Eastern Railway census showed its ethnic composition as: Russians – 34313, Chinese (that is, including Hans, Manchus etc.) – 23537, Jews – 5032, Poles – 2556, Japanese – 696, Germans – 564, Tatars – 234, Latvians – 218, Georgians – 183, Estonians – 172, Lithuanians – 142, Armenians – 124; there were also Karaims, Ukrainians, Bashkirs, and some Western Europeans. In total, 68549 citizens of 53 nationalities, speaking 45 languages.[14] Research shows that only 11.5 percent of all residents were born in Harbin.[15]

White Russians in Harbin, 1934

After Russia's Great October Socialist Revolution in December 1918, more than 100,000 defeated Russian White Guards and refugees retreated to Harbin, which became a major center of White Russian émigrés and the largest Russian enclave outside the Soviet Union. The city had a Russian school system, as well as publishers of Russian language newspapers and journals. After 1919, Dr. Abraham Kaufman played a leading role in Harbin's large Russian Jewish community.[16] The Republic of China discontinued diplomatic relations with Imperial Russia in 1920, so many Russians found themselves stateless. When the Chinese Eastern Railway and government in Beijing announced in 1924 that they agreed the railroad would only employ Russian or Chinese nationals, the emigrees were forced to announce their ethnic and political allegiance. Most accepted Soviet citizenship. The Chinese warlord Zhang Xueliang seized the Chinese Eastern Railway in 1929. Soviet military force quickly put an end to the crisis and forced the Nationalist Chinese to accept restoration of joint Soviet-Chinese administration of the railway.[17]

Japanese invasion period[edit]

Japan invaded Manchuria outright after the Mukden Incident in September 1931. After the Japanese captured Tsitsihar in the Jiangqiao Campaign, the Japanese 4th Mixed Brigade moved toward Harbin, closing in from the west and south. Bombing and strafing by Japanese aircraft forced the Chinese army to retreat from Harbin. Within a few hours the Japanese occupation of Harbin was complete.[18]

With the establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo, the Pacification of Manchukuo began, as volunteer armies continued to fight the Japanese. Harbin became a major operations base for the infamous medical experimenters of Unit 731, who killed people of all ages and ethnicities. All these units were known collectively as the "Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army" (関東軍防疫給水部本部 Kantōgun bōeki kyūsui-bu honbu?).[19] The main facility of the Unit 731 was built in 1935 at Pingfang District, approximately 24 km (15 mi) south of Harbin urban area at that time.[20] Between 3,000 and 12,000 citizens including men, women, and children[21][22]—from which around 600 every year were provided by the Kempeitai[23]—died during the human experimentation conducted by Unit 731 at the camp based in Pingfang alone, which does not include victims from other medical experimentation sites.[24] Almost 70 percent of the victims who died in the Pingfang camp were Chinese, including both civilian and military.[25] Close to 30 percent of the victims were Russian.[26] Some others were South East Asians and Pacific Islanders, at the time colonies of the Empire of Japan, and a small number of the prisoners of war from the Allies of World War II[27] (although many more Allied POWs were victims of Unit 731 at other sites). Prisoners of war were subjected to vivisection without anesthesia, after infected with various diseases.[28] Prisoners were injected with inoculations of disease, disguised as vaccinations, to study their effects. Unit 731 and its affiliated units (Unit 1644 and Unit 100 among others) were involved in research, development, and experimental deployment of epidemic-creating biowarfare weapons in assaults against the Chinese populace (both civilian and military) throughout World War II. Human targets were also used to test grenades positioned at various distances and in different positions. Flame throwers were tested on humans. Humans were tied to stakes and used as targets to test germ-releasing bombs, chemical weapons, and explosive bombs.[29][30] Twelve Unit 731 members were found guilty in the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials but later repatriated; others received secret immunity by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Douglas MacArthur before the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal in exchange for biological warfare work in the Cold War for the American Force.[31]

Harbin's Kitayskaya Street (Russian for "Chinese Street") (中國大街), now Zhongyang Street (Chinese for "Central Street") before 1945

Chinese revolutionaries including Zhao Shangzhi, Yang Jingyu, Li Zhaolin, Zhao Yiman continued to struggle against the Japanese in Harbin and its administrative area, commanding the main anti-Japanese guerrilla army-Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army which was originally organized by the Manchurian branch of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP). The army was supported by the Comintern after the The CPC Manchuria Provincial Committee was dissolved in 1936. Under the Manchukuo régime and Japanese occupation, Harbin Russians had a difficult time. In 1935, the Soviet Union sold the Chinese Eastern Railway (KVZhD) to the Japanese, and many Russian emigres left Manchuria, especially Harbin( Nearly all of them were arrested during the Great Purge between 1936–1938). Most departing Russians returned to the Soviet Union, but a substantial number moved south to Shanghai or emigrated to the United States and Australia.

Many of Harbin's Jews (13,000 in 1929) fled after the Japanese occupation. Most left for Shanghai, Tientsin, and the British Mandate of Palestine.[32] In the late 1930s, some German Jews fleeing the Nazis moved to Harbin. Japanese officials later facilitated Jewish emigration to several cities in western Japan, notably Kobe, which came to have Japan's largest synagogue.

Post World War II[edit]

Monument to Soviet soldiers in Harbin's Nangang District, built by Soviet Red Army in 1945

The Soviet Army took the city on 20 August 1945 and Harbin never came under the control of the Kuomintang, whose troops stopped 60 km (37 mi) short of the city. The city's administration was transferred by the departing Soviet Army to the Chinese People's Liberation Army in April 1946. On April 28, 1946, the Communist Government of Harbin was established, making the 700,000-citizen-city the first large city under CPC rule.[12] During the short occupation of Harbin by the Soviet Army (August 1945 to April 1946), thousands of Russian emigres who fled communism after the revolution, were forcibly moved to the Soviet Union. The rest of the European community (Russians, Germans, Poles, Greeks, etc.) emigrated during the years 1950–54 to Australia, Brazil and the USA, or were repatriated to their home countries. By 1988 the original Russian community numbered just thirty, all of them elderly.

Since the transportation between Harbin and Soviet Union was very convenient through the Trans-Manchurian Railway, Harbin was among one of the key construction cities of China during the First Five-Year Plan period from 1951 to 1956. 13 of the 156 key construction projects were aid-constructed by the Soviet Union in Harbin. This project made Harbin an important industrial base of China. During the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1961, Harbin experienced a very tortuous development course as several Sino-Soviet contracts were cancelled by the Soviet Union.[33] During the Cultural Revolution many foreign and Christian things were uprooted, such as the St. Nicholas church which was destroyed by Red Guards in 1966. As the normal economic and social order was seriously disrupted, Harbin's economy also suffered from serious setbacks. One of the main reasons of this setback is with its Soviet ties deteriorating and the Vietnam War escalating, China became concerned of a possible nuclear attack. Mao Zedong ordered an evacuation of military and other key state enterprises away from the northeastern frontier, with Harbin being the core zone of this region, bordering the Soviet Union. During this Third Front Development Era of China, several major factories of Harbin were relocated to Southwestern Provinces including Gansu, Sichuan, Hunan and Guizhou, were it would be strategically secure in the event of a possibly war. Some major universities of China were also moved out of Harbin, including Harbin Military Academy of Engineering(predecessor of Changsha's National University of Defense Technology) and Harbin Institute of Technology (Moved to Chongqing in 1969 and relocated to Harbin in 1973).[34]

Huang Shan Jewish Cemetery of Harbin, China

However, national economy and social service have obtained significant achievements since the economic reforms first introduced in 1979. Harbin holds the China Harbin International economic and Trade Fair each year since 1990.[12] Harbin once housed one of the largest Jewish communities in the Far East before World War II. It reached its peak in the mid-1920s when 25,000 European Jews lived in the city. Among them were the parents of Ehud Olmert, the former Prime Minister of Israel. In 2004, Olmert came to Harbin with an Israeli trade delegation to visit the grave of his grandfather in Huang Shan Jewish Cemetery.[35]

On 5 October 1984, Harbin was designated a sub-provincial city by the Central Organization Committee along with Guangzhou and Xi'an. The eight counties of Harbin originally formed part of Songhuajiang Prefecture(Chinese: 松花江地区; pinyin: Sōnghuā jiāng dìqū) whose seat was practically located inside the urban area of Harbin since 1972. The prefecture was officially merged into Harbin city on 11 August 1996.[36] The municipality had 10,635,971 inhabitants at the 2010 census and its built up area now covers seven districts of Harbin municipality: all urban districts plus Hulan county who is merging with Songbei districts. The built up area is now home to 5,282,083 inhabitants spread out on 4,275 km2 (1,651 sq mi).[4]

Harbin hosted the third 1996 Asian Winter Games in 1996.[37] In 2009, Harbin held the XXIV Winter Universiade.

Geography[edit]

Harbin and vicinities, LandSat-5 satellite image, 2010-09-22
Harbin
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
3.4
 
−12
−24
 
 
5.3
 
−7
−20
 
 
9.7
 
3
−10
 
 
18
 
14
1
 
 
40
 
21
8
 
 
84
 
26
15
 
 
143
 
28
18
 
 
121
 
26
16
 
 
58
 
21
9
 
 
26
 
12
0
 
 
9.6
 
0
−10
 
 
5.8
 
−9
−20
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: CMA [38]

Harbin, with a total land area of 53,068 km2 (20,490 sq mi), is located in southern Heilongjiang province, on the southeastern edge of the Songnen Plain (Chinese: 松嫩平原; pinyin: Sōngnèn Píngyuán). The city center also sits on the southern bank of the middle Songhua River. Harbin received its nickname The pearl on the swan's neck, since the shape of Heilongjiang resembles a swan.[39] Its administrative area is rather large with latitude spanning 44° 04′−46° 40′ N, and longitude 125° 42′−130° 10' E.[40] Neighbouring prefecture-level cities are Yichun to the north, Jiamusi and Qitaihe to the northeast, Mudanjiang to the southeast, Daqing to the west, and Suihua to the northwest. On its southwestern boundary is Jilin province. The main terrain of the city is generally flat and low-lyling, with an average elevation of around 150 metres (490 ft). However, the territory that comprises the 10 county-level divisions in the eastern part of the municipality consists of mountains and uplands.

Climate[edit]

Under the Köppen climate classification, Harbin features a monsoon-influenced, humid continental climate (Dwa). Due to the Siberian high and its location above 45 degrees north latitude, the city is known for its coldest weather and longest winter among major Chinese cities.[39] Its "Ice City" (冰城) nickname is well-earned, as winters here are dry and bitterly cold, with a 24-hour average in January of only −18.4 °C (−1.1 °F), although the city sees little precipitation during the winter and is often sunny. Spring and autumn constitute brief transition periods with variable wind directions. Summers can be hot, with a July mean temperature of 23.0 °C (73.4 °F). Summer is also when most of the year's rainfall occurs, and more than half of the annual precipitation, at 524 millimetres (20.6 in), occurs in July and August alone. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 52 percent in December to 63 percent in March, the city receives 2,571 hours of bright sunshine annually; on average precipitation falls 104 days out of the year. The annual mean temperature is +4.25 °C (39.6 °F), and extreme temperatures have ranged from −42.6 °C (−45 °F) to 39.2 °C (103 °F).[41]

Environmental issues[edit]

Songhua River upstream chemical explosion[edit]

A benzene plant situated upstream in Jilin City along the Songhua River exploded on 13 November 2005. The explosion severely polluted the Songhua River, with an estimated 100 tons of pollutants containing benzene and nitrobenzene entering into the river.[42] An 80 km (50 mi) long toxic slick drifted down the Amur River, while benzene levels reached at one point 108 times above national safety levels, which led authorities in Harbin to shut off the water supply, and some residents left the city while others rushed to buy bottled water. After four days the water supply was restored. The Harbin government originally declared to the public that the water supply was temporarily off while the supply system was checked. They also denied reports of a chemical leak, claiming that it was "just a rumour."[43] Water supplies were suspended for several days in other major cities along the Songhua River and Amur River, including Songyuan, Khabarovsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The lack of government transparency was criticized, particularly, that it knew about the disaster more than a week before making it public. As contaminated water flowed toward neighboring Russia, Chinese leaders later had to apologize to the Russian government over its handling of the incident.[44]

2013 Harbin smog[edit]

Smog in Harbin, China.

Due to Harbin's bitter winters,[45] a coal-powered district heating system is necessitated, capable of causing heavy pollution in the city.[46] Due to unseasonably warm temperatures with very little wind in October 2013, record smog was recorded in the city, reducing visibility to below 50 m (160 ft) in parts of Harbin, and below 500 m (1,600 ft) in sections of neighbouring Jilin.[47] The airport and kindergarten through middle schools were closed for three days,[48][49] and Hospitals reported a 23 percent increase in admissions for respiratory problems.[50] All highways in the surrounding Heilongjiang province were closed.[51] Officials blamed the dense pollution on lack of wind, burning of crop waste in farmers' fields, and the 20 October[52] start-up of Harbin's coal-powered district heating system.[53]

Administrative divisions[edit]

The sub-provincial city of Harbin has direct jurisdiction over 8 districts, 3 county-level cities and 7 Counties. On August 15, 2006, Dongli District (动力区) merged into Xiangfang District while Acheng District was established in place of the former Acheng City.[1]

Harbin mcp.png
# Name Simplified Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Population
(2010-11-01)
Area (km²) Density (/km²)
City proper
1 Daoli District 道里区 Dàolǐ Qū 923,762 479 1,929
2 Nangang District 南岗区 Nángǎng Qū 1,343,857 183 7,343
3 Daowai District 道外区 Dàowài Qū 906,421 257 3,527
4 Xiangfang District 香坊区 Xiāngfáng Qū 916,408 340 2,695
5 Pingfang District 平房区 Píngfáng Qū 190,253 94 2,024
6 Songbei District 松北区 Sōngběi Qū 236,848 736 322
Suburbs
7 Hulan District 呼兰区 Hūlán Qū 764,534 2,186 350
8 Acheng District 阿城区 Àchéng Qū 596,856 2,770 215
Satellite cities
9 Shuangcheng 双城市 Shuāngchéng Shì 825,634 3,112 265
10 Shangzhi 尚志市 Shàngzhì Shì 585,386 8,895 66
11 Wuchang 五常市 Wǔcháng Shì 881,224 7,512 117
Rural
12 Yilan County 依兰县 Yīlán Xiàn 388,319 4,672 83
13 Fangzheng County 方正县 Fāngzhèng Xiàn 203,853 2,993 68
14 Bin County 宾县 Bīn Xiàn 551,271 3,846 143
15 Bayan County 巴彦县 Bāyàn Xiàn 590,555 3,138 188
16 Mulan County 木兰县 Mùlán Xiàn 277,685 3,602 77
17 Tonghe County 通河县 Tōnghé Xiàn 210,650 5,755 37
18 Yanshou County 延寿县 Yánshòu Xiàn 242,455 3,226 75

Economy[edit]

Commercial street with European façades in Harbin (2007)

Harbin is located in Northeast China, along with several other major cities including Changchun, Dalian and Shenyang. While Dalian is considered the region's shipping center and Shenyang its financial hub, Harbin is striving hard towards becoming the key trade and shopping center of the region. The city is located in one of the fastest growing regions in the world and can boast a number of advantages such as an abundance of natural resources, good transport system and plenty of human resources.[9]

In 2013, Harbin's GDP totaled RMB501.08 billion, an increase of 8.9 percent over the previous year.[54] Harbin is the largest economy in Heilongjiang province.[6]

The proportion of the three industries to the aggregate of GDP was 11.1:36.1:52.8 in 2012. The total value for imports and exports by the end of 2012 was USD 5,330 million.[6] In 2012, the working population reached 3.147 million.

The soil in Harbin, called “black earth” is one of the most nutrient rich in all of China, making it valuable for cultivating food and textile-related crops. As a result, Harbin is China’s base for the production of commodity grain and an ideal location for setting up agricultural businesses. Harbin also has industries such as light industry, textile, medicine, food, automobile, metallurgy, electronics, building materials, and chemicals which help to form a fairly comprehensive industrial system. Harbin Power Equipment Group Company and Northeast Light Alloy Processing Factory are two key enterprises. Harbin is also known as the capital of power manufacturing; hydro and thermal power equipment manufactured here makes up one-third of the total installed capacity in China.[9]

Foreign investors seem upbeat about the city. The Harbin Trade and Economic fair, has been held for 17 years annually, cumulatively attracting more than 1.3 million exhibitors and visitors and resulting in contracts of over US$90 billion. Japanese, Russian and Eastern European nations are increasingly looking to North China and Harbin for investment. Foreign direct investment remains low, but is growing as a result of government efforts, with utilized FDI totaling US$570 million, up 28.1 percent, in 2008.[9]

Harbin Bank Building

In the financial sector, Harbin Bank and Longjiang bank are some of the largest banks in Northeast China, with headquarters in Harbin.

Harbin is also home to Harbin Institute of Technology, one of China's better known universities. Founded in 1920, the university has developed into an important research university focusing on engineering, with supporting faculties in the sciences, management, humanities and social sciences. The institute's faculty and students contributed to and invented China's first analog computer, the first intelligent chess computer, and the first arc-welding robot. In 2010, research funding from the government, industry, and business sectors surpassed RMB1.13 billion, the second highest of any university in China.[9]

Economic Development Zones and Ports[edit]

  • Harbin Development Zone
    • Harbin Economic and Technological Development Zone, mainly focus on automobiles and auto parts, medicine, food, electronics, textiles.
    • Harbin High and New Technological Development Zone, focus on optical-mechanical-electrical integration, biology, medicine, electronics and information technology.

Harbin High-tech Zone was set up in 1988 and was approved by the State Council as a national development zone in 1991. It has a total area of 34 sqkm in the centralized parks, subdivided into Nangang, Haping Road and Yingbin Road Centralized Parks. The Nangang Centralized Park is designated for the incubation of high-tech projects and research and development base of enterprises as well as tertiary industries such as finance, insurance, services, catering, tourism, culture, recreation and entertainment, where the headquarters of large famous companies and their branches in Harbin are located; the Haping Road Centralized Park is a comprehensive industrial basis for the investment projects of automobile and automobile parts manufacturing, medicines, foodstuffs, electronics, textile; the Yingbin Road Centralized Park is mainly for high-tech incubation projects, high-tech industrial development.[55]

  • Harbin Port
  • Harbin High-tech Industrial Development Zone

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Year Pop.   ±%  
1934 500,526 —    
1953 1,162,962 +132.3%
1964 1,962,000 +68.7%
1982 2,542,832 +29.6%
1990 4,219,516 +65.9%
2000 9,413,359 +123.1%
2010 10,635,971 +13.0%
Population size may be affected by changes on administrative divisions.

The 2010 census revealed that the official total population in Harbin was 10,635,971, representing a 12.99 percent increase over the last decade.[56] The urban area had a population of 5.87 million people. The demographic profile for the Harbin metropolitan area in general is relatively old: 10.95 percent are under the age of 14, while 8.04 percent are over 65, compared to the national average of 16.6% and 8.87 percent, respectively. Harbin has a higher percentage of males (50.85 percent) than females (49.15 percent).[57] Harbin currently has a lower birth rate than other parts of China, with 6.95 births per 1,000 inhabitants, compared to the Chinese average of 12.13 births.[58]

Ethnic groups[edit]

Most of Harbin's residents belong to the Han Chinese majority (93.45 percent). Ethnic minorities include the Manchu, Hui, and Mongol. In 2000, 616,749 residents belonged to minority nationalities, among which the vast majority (433,340) were Manchu, contributing 70.26 percent to the minority population. The second and third largest minority groups were Koreans (119,883) and Hui nationalities (39,995).

Ethnic groups in Harbin, 2000 census[59]
Ethnicity Population Percentage
Han 8,796,610 93.45%
Manchu 433,340 4.6%
Koreans 119,883 1.27%
Hui 39,995 0.43%
Mongols 13,163 0.14%
Xibe 4,741 0.05%
Daur 938 0.01%
Others 4,689 0.05%

Culture[edit]

The Harbin local culture is based on Han culture, combined with Manchu culture and Russian culture. This combination of cultures influences the local architecture style, food, music, and customs. The city of Harbin was appointed a UNESCO City of Music on 22 June 2010 as part of the Creative Cities Network.

Cuisine[edit]

Harbin is renowned for its culinary tradition. Cuisine of Harbin consist of European flavor dishes and Chinese Northern flavor dishes mainly typified by heavy sauce and deep-frying.[60]

One of the most famous dishes in Northeastern Cuisine is Guo Bao Rou (simplified Chinese: 锅包肉; traditional Chinese: 鍋包肉; pinyin: Guōbāoròu), a form of sweet and sour pork. It is a classic dish from Harbin which originated in the early 20th century in Daotai Fu (pinyin: Dàotái Fǔ).[61] It consists of a bite-sized pieces of pork in a potato starch batter, deep-fried until crispy. They are then lightly coated in a variation of a sweet and sour sauce, made from freshly prepared syrup, rice vinegar and flavoured with ginger and garlic. The Harbin Guobaorou is distinct form that of other areas of China, such as Liaoning, where the sauce may be made using either tomatoe ketchup or orange juice. Rather the Harbin style is dominated by the honey and ginger flavours and has a clear or honey yellow colour. Originally the taste was fresh and salty. In order to fete foreign guests, Zheng Xingwen (pinyin: Zhèngxìngwén), the chef of Daotai Fu, altered the dish into a sweet and sour taste.[61]

Demoli Stewed Live Fish is one among other notable dishes in Harbin, which is originated in a village named Demoli on the expressway from Harbin to Jiamusi. The village is now Demoli Service Area on Harbin-Tongjiang Expressway.[62] Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms, Braised Pork with Vermicelli, and quick-boil pork with Chinese sauerkraut (Chinese: 汆白肉; pinyin: Cuānbáiròu) are also typical authentic local dishes.

Since Russia had a strong influence of Harbin's history, Local cuisine of Harbin also contains Russian style dishes and flavor. There are several authentic Russian-style western restaurants in Harbin, especially alongside the Zhongyang Street.[63]

Harbin Sausage

A popular regional specialty is Harbin's smoked savory red sausage (Chinese: 哈红肠; pinyin: hóng cháng).[60] This product similar to Lithuanian and Polish sausages such as Kielbasa and Podhalańska, in that they tend to be much more of European flavours than other Chinese sausages.[citation needed] In 1900, Russian merchant Ivan Yakovlevich Churin (Russian: И. Я. Чурин) founded a branch in Harbin, which was named Churin Foreign trading company (Chinese pinyin:Qiulin Yanghang; Russian: Цюлинь Янхан) selling imported clothes, leather boots, canned foods, vodka, etc., and began to expand sales network in other cities in Manchuria.[64][65] The influx of Europeans through Trans-Siberian Railway and Chinese Eastern Railway, increased demand of European flavor food. In 1909, Churin's Sausage Factory was founded, and first produced European flavor sausage with the manufacturing process of Lithuanian staff. Since then European style sausage become a specialty of the city.[60]

Harbin's bakeries are famous for their Russian style large round bread (Chinese: 大列巴; pinyin: Dà liè ba), derived from the Russian word khleb for "bread". Dalieba is a miche like sourdough bread. First introduced to the locals by a Russian baker, it has been sold in bakeries in Harbin for over a hundred years.[66] Dalieba's sour and chewy taste is different from other traditional soft and fluffy Asian style breads in other parts of China.

Kvass, a Russia-originated fermented beverage made from black or regular rye bread,[67] is also popular in Harbin.[68]

Winter culture[edit]

Tower at Harbin Ice and Snow Festival 2013

Located in northern Northeast China, Harbin is the northernmost among major cities in China. Under the direct influence of the strongest semipermanent Siberian Anticyclone, the strongest semipermanent in northern hemisphere, the average daily temperature is −19.7 °C (−3.5 °F) in winter. Annual low temperatures below −35.0 °C (−31.0 °F) are not uncommon. Nicknamed "Ice City" due to its bitterly cold winter, Harbin is decorated by various styles of Ice and snow Sculptures from December to March every year.

Ice sculptures in 2014, including a replica of Empire State Building

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has been held since 1985. Although the official start date is January 5 each year, in practice, many of the sculptures can be seen before. While there are ice sculptures throughout the city, there are two main exhibition areas: Enormous snow sculptures at Sun Island (Taiyang Dao, a AAAAA-rated recreational area on the opposite side of the Songhua River from the city) and the separate "Ice and Snow World" that operates each night with lights switched on, illuminating the sculptures from both inside and outside. Ice and Snow World features illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of 2–3 feet thick crystal clear ice directly taken from Songhua River which passes through the city. Massive ice buildings, large scale snow sculptures, ice slides, festival food and drinks can be found in several parks and major avenues in the city. Winter activities in the festival include Yabuli Alpine Skiing, snow mobile driving, winter-swimming in Songhua River, and the traditional ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden, which was first held in 1963.[69] Snow carving and ice and snow recreations are world famous.

The "Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival" is one of the four largest ice and snow festivals in the world, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway's Ski Festival.[6]

Every November, the city of Harbin sends teams of ice artisans to the United States to promote their unique art form. It takes more than 100 artisans to create ICE!, the annual display of indoor Christmas-themed ice carvings in National Harbor, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Kissimmee, Florida; and Grapevine, Texas.

Winter ice swimming is also popular along the Songhua River.

The Music City[edit]

Being considered the fashion capital of China in the 1920s, Harbin had the earliest access to European classical music in China. Founded in 1908, the Harbin Symphony Orchestra was China's oldest symphony orchestra. Harbin No.1 Music School was also the first music school in China, which was founded in 1928. Nearly 100 famous musicians have studied at the school since its founding, said Liu Yantao, deputy chief of Harbin Cultural, Press and Publication Bureau (HCPPB).

UNESCO recognizes China's Harbin as "The Music City" as part of the Creative Cities Network in 2010.[10]

Harbin Summer Music Concert[edit]

Harbin Summer Music Concert ('Concert' for short) is a national concert festival, which is held on August 6 every two years for a period of 10~11 days. During the concert, multiple evenings, concert, race and activities are held. The artists come from all over the world.

The 'Harbin Summer Music Month', which was then renamed as 'Harbin Summer Music Concert', was held in August 1958. The first formal Concert was held on August 5, 1961 in Harbin Youth Palace, and kept on every year until 1966 when the Cultural Revolution started in China.[70] In 1979, the Concert was recovered and from 1994, it has been held every two years. As a part of 2006 Harbin Summer Music Concert's opening ceremony, a 1,001-piano concert was held in Harbin's Flood memorial square located at the north end of Zhongyang Street (Chinese: 中央大街; pinyin: Zhōngyāng dàjiē) on August 6, 2006.[71][72] Repertoires of the ensemble consisted of Triumphal March, Military March, Radetzky March and famous traditional local song On The Sun Island(simplified Chinese: 太阳岛上; traditional Chinese: 太陽島上; pinyin: tài yáng dǎo shàng). This concert set a new Guinness World Record for largest piano ensemble, surpassing the previous record held by German artists in a 600-piano concert.[10] In 2008, the 29th Harbin Summer Music Concert was held on August 6.

Media[edit]

The 336 m (1,102 ft) tall Harbin Dragon Tower(ranks the second tallest freestanding lattice tower in the world), serves as the headquarters of HLJTV and Dragon Broadcast

Television and Radio[edit]

  • Heilongjiang Television (HLJTV) serves as the media outlets of this region, broadcasts on seven channels as well as a satellite channel for other provinces.
  • Harbin Television (HRBTV) serves as a municipal station, which has five channels for specialized programming.
  • Long Guang, Dragon Broadcast, formerly Heilongjiang People's Broadcasting Station, the radio station group that serves the whole Heilongjiang region, providing seven channels including a Korean language broadcast station.
  • Harbin People's Broadcasting Station (HPBS), broadcasts music, news, traffic, economy and life in Harbin and adjacent areas including Daqing, Suihua and Fuyu.

Printed Media[edit]

Major local newspapers include the Harbin Daily, New Metropolis Newspaper, Life Newspaper, New Evening News, Heilongjiang Morning Paper and Heilongjiang Daily.

Previous newspapers[edit]

In 1929 the Deutsch-Mandschurische Nachrichten, a German language daily newspaper, opened in Harbin. The editor of the newspaper was an engineer, not a professional journalist. Hartmut Walravens, author of German Influence on the Press in China said that, "While there was a potential clientele in Harbin owing to many people from Russia and the Baltic states who understood and read German, the paper offered little to interest a wider circle of readers" and that "the main asset of the paper were the advertisements while the news section was very poor."[73] In 1930 the newspaper moved to Tianjin and changed its name to the Deutsch-Chinesische Nachrichten.[73]

Architecture[edit]

Russian Orthodox Saint Sofia Church built in 1907, Harbin

The architecture style of Harbin shows a unique combination of oriental and European architecture styles. The city is well known for its unique, Russian and other European-influenced architecture. The architecture in Harbin brings the city the name of "Oriental Moscow" and "Oriental Paris".[39]

Zhongyang Street (also known, using the Russian word for Chinese, as Kitaiskaya Street), one of the main business streets in Harbin, is a remnant of the bustling international business activities at the turn of the 20th century. First built in 1898, The 1.4 km (0.87 mi) long street is a veritable museum of European architectural styles: Baroque and Byzantine façades, little Russian bakeries and French fashion houses, as well as non European architectural styles: American eateries, and Japanese restaurants.[74]

The Russian Orthodox church, Saint Sophia Cathedral, is also located in the central district of Daoli. Saint Sophia took nine years to build and was completed in 1932. The 53.35 m (175.0 ft) high Church, which covers an area of 721 square meters, is a typical representative of the Byzantine architecture.[75] It has now been made into a museum as a showcase of the history of Harbin city.

Many citizens believe that the Orthodox church damaged the local feng shui, so they donated money to build a Chinese monastery in 1921, the Ji Le Temple. There were more than 15 Russian Orthodox churches and two cemeteries in Harbin until 1949. The Communist Revolution, and the subsequent Cultural Revolution, and the decrease in the ethic Russian population, saw many of them abandoned or destroyed. Today, about 10 churches remain, while services are held only in the Church of the Intercession in Harbin.

Sports[edit]

Harbin has produced many world-class winter sports champions, including short track star and six-time Olympic medalist Wang Meng and 2006 pairs figure skating silver medalists Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao,[76] as well as 2010 Vancouver Olympics figure skating gold medalists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo and silver medalists Pang Qing and Tong Jian.

Harbin has an indoor speed skating arena, Heilongjiang Indoor Rink, as one of four in China along with Changchun's Jilin Provincial Speed Skating Rink, Shenyang's Bayi Speed Skating Oval and Qiqihar's Indoor Ice Rink.

Being a winter sport center for China, there are even plans to introduce bandy in Harbin.[77]

Harbin Yiteng Football Club currently play home soccer matches at Harbin International Conference Exhibition and Sports Center, a 50000-seated stadium. The team gain promotion to China's top tier for the first time when they came second within the 2013 China League One division.

Harbin hosted the Asian Basketball Confederation Championship in 2003, in which China won the championship on their home court for the thirteenth time.

Events[edit]

The 1996 Asian Winter Games were held in Harbin, and the city also bid for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Alpine skiing events would have taken place in the Yabuli ski resort. In the frame of this campaign to assert its role on the world scene, Harbin was the host city of the 2009 Winter Universiade. Harbin planned to spend US$ 1.5 billion in construction and renovation of its sport infrastructure for this Universiade. Harbin also bid for the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics, but was passed over so still has its sights on the Olympics, perhaps in 2022.

Infrastructure[edit]

Rail[edit]

Harbin Railway Station, located in the city center

Harbin is the second largest railway hub in Northeast China, only after Shenyang.[78] Harbin Railway-Bureau is the first Railway Bureau in People's Republic of China, of which the railway density is the highest in China. Five conventional rail lines radiate from Harbin to: Beijing (Jingha Line), Suifenhe (Binsui Line), Manzhouli (Binzhou Line), Beian (Binbei Line) and Lalin (Labin Line). In addition, Harbin has a high-speed rail line linking Dalian. In 2009, construction began on the new Harbin West Railway Station with 18 platforms, located on the southwestern outskirts of the city. In December 2012, the station was opened, as China unveiled its first high-speed rail running through regions with extremely low winter temperatures. with scheduled runs from Harbin to Dalian.[79] The weather-proof CRH380B bullet trains serving the line can accommodate temperatures from minus 40 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius above zero.[80]

The new Harbin West Railway Station, opened in 2012

The city's main railway stations are the Harbin Railway Station, which was first built in 1899 and expanded in 1989; the Harbin East Railway Station, which opened in 1934; and the Harbin West Railway Station, which was built into the city's high-speed railway station in 2012. As of 26 January 2013, Harbin Railway Station had 202 trains arriving daily, Harbin West had 70 trains and Harbin East had 60.[78]

Direct passenger train service is available from Harbin Railway Station to large cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Jinan, Nanjing and many other major cities in China.[9] According to 2011 statistics, Harbin Railway Station's person flow volume has reached 27,898,500 person-time, ranking fifth in China after Beijing West, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

Road[edit]

As an important regional hub in Northeast China, Harbin has an advanced system of highways. Food and other products are shipped on these roads.

There are several important highways which pass through or terminate in Harbin, including the Beijing–Harbin, Heihe–Dalian, Harbin–Tongjiang, Changchun–Harbin, and Manzhouli–Suifenhe highways.

A part of the newly inaugurated 15 km (9.3 mi) long Yangmingtan Bridge spanning the Songhua River collapsed on 24 August 2012, killing three.[81]

Air[edit]

Harbin Taiping International Airport, which is 35 kilometres (22 miles) away from the urban area of Harbin, is the second largest international airport in Northeast China. It is the largest northernmost airport of China and its terminal building (along with Shenyang-Taoxian Airport) is currently one of the largest in northeastern China.[citation needed] The technical level of flight district is 4E, which allows all kinds of large and medium civil aircraft. There are flights to over thirty large cities including Beijing, Tianjing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Qingdao, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Dalian, Xi'an and Hong Kong.[9] In addition there are also scheduled international flights between Harbin and Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea.[78]

Subway[edit]

Harbin Metro station entrance

Construction of Harbin Subway started on 5 December 2006. The total investment for the first phase is RMB5.89 billion. Twenty stations were planned to be set on this 17.73 km (11.02 mi) long line starting from Harbin East Railway Station to the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University in the west of the city. A subway depot, a command center and two transformer substations will be built along the line. Most of the subway's route follows the air defence evacuation tunnel left from the "7381" Project which started in 1973 and ended in 1979. The 7381 project was intended to protect Harbin from the former Soviet Union's possible invasion or nuclear attack. The Line 1 of Harbin Metro actually opened on 26 September 2013.[82] It is oriented along the east west axis of the urban area of Harbin: from north-east (Harbin East Railway Station) to south-west (2nd Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University).[83] In the long term, the city plans to build nine radiating subway lines and a circle line in downtown and some suburban districts, which account for 340 km (211.3 mi) by 2025.[84]

Picture References:

Ports and waterways[edit]

There are more than 1,900 rivers in Heilongjiang, including the Songhua River, Heilong River and Wusuli River, creating a convenient system of waterway transportation. Harbin harbor is one of eight inland ports in China and the largest of its type in Northeast China. Available from mid-April until the beginning of November, passenger ships sail from Harbin up the Songhua River to Qiqihar, or downstream to Jiamusi, Tongjiang, and Khabarovsk in Russia.[9]

Education[edit]

The main building of Harbin Institute of Technology. Note the Stalinist "tier-cake" façade, reminiscent of the Seven Sisters in Moscow.
Harbin Xinhua Bookstore.

As Harbin serves as an important military industrial base after PRC's foundation, it is home to several key universities and colleges in China, including Harbin Institute of Technology and Harbin Engineering University (former department of Shipbuilding Engineering of Harbin Military Academy of Engineering). Soviet experts played an important role in many education projects in this period. However, due to the threat of possible war with the Soviet Union, several colleges were moved southwards to Changsha, Chongqing, and several other southern cities in China in the 1960s. Some of these colleges were returned to Harbin in the 1970s. These universities mainly focus on the science and technology service of national defense and aerospace industry.[85]

International relations[edit]

Harbin has town twinning and similar arrangements with approximately 30 places around the world, as well as some other cities within China. For a list, see List of twin towns and sister cities in China → H.

In 2009 Harbin opened an International Sister Cities museum. It has 1,048 exhibits in 28 rooms, with a total area of 1,800 square metres (19,375 square feet).[86]

See also[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Meyer, Mike, "Manchuria Under Ice", Departures Magazine, Nov/Dec 2006, 292–297.
  • Nikos Kavvadias, a popular Greek poet born in Harbin by Greek parents from Kefalonia, Greece
  • Jan, Michel, "Cruelle est la terre des frontières", Payot, Paris, 2006 (in French).

External links[edit]