Russian Dalian

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Russian Dalian
Kvantunskaya oblast
Дальний
Leased territory of the Russian Empire
1898–1905


Flag of the Russian Empire

Capital Dalniy
Languages Russian (official)
Mandarin Chinese
Government Absolute monarchy
Tsar
 •  1894–1917 Nicholas II
Historical era New Imperialism
 •  Pavlov Agreement 1898
 •  Ceded to Japan 1905
Currency Russian ruble
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Qing Dynasty
Kwantung Leased Territory
Today part of  China

As a portion of the Guandong Leased Territories (Guandong zhou), the city of Dalian came under the territorial control of Russia from 1898 until that country’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. The Russians called the city Dalniy (Russian: Дальний), which means “distant” or "remote", describing the city's location relative to the Russian heartland while also being a sort of transliteration of the Chinese ‘Dalian’. Under Russian control, Dalniy grew into a vibrant port city and before its loss in 1905 was one terminus of the Russian-controlled Chinese Eastern Railway.

Background to Russian Dalniy[edit]

The 1890s saw the intensification of rivalries among Qing China, Japan, and Russia – with the lesser interests of Great Britain, Germany, and the United States – over paramount influence in Manchuria. For Russia, the region of the Liaodong Peninsula (Russian: Ляодунский полуостров) was of particular interest as one of the few areas in the region that had the potential to develop ice-free ports.[1] These rivalries came to their first armed conflict during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, which resulted in Japan’s resounding victory over the Qing Dynasty, a contest that involved a battle over the port of Lushun (later called Port Arthur) near what would become Dalian, or Dalniy. The engagements on the Liaodong peninsula between Japanese and Chinese troops confirmed to the Japanese the strategic importance of the region, and in particular the strategic positioning of the region around Dalian. Though Japan seized control over the peninsula and was awarded it in the subsequent Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895), it was forced to retrocede it to Qing China following the diplomatic pressure of Russia, Germany, and France, the so-called Triple Intervention of 1895. This would contribute to the growing and bitter rivalry between Japan and Russia while also paving the way for the Russian seizure of the region three years later.

In 1897 Russia signed with Qing China a secret agreement for the establishment under Russian guidance of the Chinese Eastern Railway. On December 15, 1897, Russia, fearing that without decisive action it might lose its chance to seize the port of Dalian to another imperial power such as Germany, which earlier that year had taken control of Qingdao, had its fleet steam into Dalian harbor. Three months later Russia signed the Pavlov Agreement (1898) with China, which granted Russia a 25-year lease on Dalian and Lushun and exclusive right to lay a branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway to them - what would become the South Manchurian Railway.[2] At first the flags of both China and Russia were raised over the city, something that assuaged the anger of some local Chinese. Within a few weeks, however, the Chinese ensign was no longer flying.[3]

Development of Russian Dalniy[edit]

A panorama of Dalniy around 1898.
Dalniy panorama around 1903.

Dalniy soon became a center of Russian military power in the Far East. In 1897 there were already 12,500 Russian troops in Lushun and the surrounding area, a number that would grow to 35,000 by 1904.[4] However, the powerful Russian Finance Minister Sergei Witte had larger visions for the region than just a military garrison. Witte was overseeing the development of the Chinese Eastern Railway and soon pushed through plans to extend the railway from Harbin to the port at Dalny. In such a vision the city would become a powerful open trading port in the Far East while nearby Port Arthur would be an exclusive Russian military city. On 8 November 1899, Nicholas II ordered the start of construction of this port city, and - at Witte's suggestion - christened the city Dal’nii (or Dalniy: Dalian), meaning “far away” in Russian.[5] Between 1899 and 1903 the Chinese Eastern Railway, which had obtained the concession to build the South Manchurian Railway terminating in Dalny, pumped nearly 20 million rubles into the city's development.[6]

Sergei Witte, whose vision was a key catalyst in the development of Dalniy (1905).

In 1899 V.V. Sakharov (Владимир Васильевич Сахаров, 1860 - 1904, died of typhoid fever in besieged Port Arthur), a Russian engineer who had been tasked earlier with the design of Vladivostok, was selected to implement plans for the development of Russian Dalniy. He approached the monumental task of transforming what was a scattering of sleepy Chinese fishing villages into a port city to rival Shanghai or Tianjin by dividing construction into two phases. Overall Sakharov's plans were inspired by the "Garden City" or "City Beautiful" movements that were influencing and transforming the urban centers of Europe and America. It called for the city to be divided into five connected districts - one commercial, two administrative, one residential, and one Chinese, and all supplied with electricity and a modern water system.[7]

The official quarter of Russian Dalniy (1904).

In the first phase from 1899-1902 two main wharves were built capable of berthing twenty-five ships of 1000 tons. The wharves were never completed by the time the Japanese seized control of the city in 1905 in the wake of the Russo-Japanese War. But by 1902 much of the wharf construction had been completed and that year over 900 ships from eight countries docked in the new facilities.[8] Nevertheless, considering the existence of a large Russian port at Vladivostok, as well as a better developed Chinese port at nearby Yingkou (Newchwang), Dalniy had its detractors, who dubbed it Lishny ("superfluous").[9] In any case, from a maritime standpoint the major attraction of the location for the Russians was as a naval - rather than a commercial - port.[10]

The Russian development of the city by necessity involved the uprooting of the location's original Chinese inhabitants. In the summer of 1899 this sparked an angry riot in which Chinese attacked the railway office with stones, dragging away the Chinese clerks and interpreters working for the Russians. Nevertheless, the city's development also brought opportunities, and during the years of Russian tenureship tens of thousands of Chinese migrated into the area.[11]

In terms of the railroad, construction linking Dalniy with Harbin was begun apace and by January 1903 the rail link between the two cities was complete. In February 1903 the first express train arrived in Dalniy from Harbin and by that August Dalniy was successfully linked by rail to the Russian homeland.

By 1904 enough progress had been made on the development of the city to embolden the Comte Cassini, Russian minister to the United States, to declare that “Harbin and Dalniy are monuments to Russian progressiveness and civilization.”[12]

Vestiges of Russian Dalniy[edit]

The former Russian City Hall of Dalniy (built ca. 1900)
Commemorative sign at Russian Culture Street

To this day many remnants of Russia's seven-year tenure in Dalian remain, most located along what is today called Russian Street (Русская улица Russkaia ulitsa) but which was originally called Engineer Street (улица Инженерная ulitsa Inzhenernaia). Russian Street is the oldest street in Dalian; its original name was presumably to honor the Russian architect who designed the first master plan for the city, K.G. Skolimovskii (К.Г. Сколимовский) and V.V. Sakharov, the engineer tasked to build it. In the mid-1990s then mayor of Dalian, Bo Xilai, conceived the idea of renovating the remaining Russian-era structures on the street, adding new ones built in a Russian style, and renaming the street Russian Street. Work on the project began in 1999 and brought in Russian architects and other experts. Eight Russian era buildings were renovated, including the former Russian Dalniy City Hall, six new buildings were built, and six other existing structures were given "Russian façades" to match the street's theme. The newly renovated street was inaugurated on 1 October 2000.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hess, Christian A. (2006). “From colonial jewel to socialist metropolis: Dalian, 1895--1955.” Ph.D. dissertation (University of California, San Diego), p. 17.
  2. ^ Hess, p. 21.
  3. ^ March, G. Patrick. Eastern Destiny: Russia in Asia and the North Pacific (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 1996), p. 168.
  4. ^ Hess, p. 21.
  5. ^ Yuri Semyonov, Siberia, its Conquest and Development (Baltimore, MD: Helicon Press, 1963), p. 342.
  6. ^ Hess, p. 23.
  7. ^ Perrins, Robert John (1996). "'Great Connections': the Creation of a City, Dalian, 1905-1945. China and Japan on the Liaodong Peninsula." Ph.D. dissertation (York University, Canada), p. 77.
  8. ^ Hess, p. 23.
  9. ^ John J. Stephan (1994). The Russian Far East, a History. Stanford University Press, p. 86.
  10. ^ H. J. Whigham (1904), Manchuria and Korea. London: Isbister and Company, p. 5.
  11. ^ Perrins, p. 77.
  12. ^ Comte Cassini, “Russia in the Far East.” The North American Review, Vol. 178, No. 570 (May, 1904), p. 684.
  13. ^ Institut arkhitektury i stroitel'stva (Russian)

Further reading[edit]

  • Hess, Christian A. (2006). "From colonial jewel to socialist metropolis: Dalian, 1895-1955." Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, San Diego.
  • Perrins, Robert John (1998). "'Great connections': The creation of a city, Dalian, 1905-1931. China and Japan on the Liaodong Peninsula." Ph.D. dissertation, York University (Canada).
  • Quested, R.K.I. (1982). “Matey” Imperialists? The Tsarist Russians in Manchuria, 1895-1917. University of Hong Kong.
  • Stephan, John J. (1994). The Russian Far East, a History. Stanford University Press.
  • "Dalniy", Cook's Handbook for Tourists to Peking, Tientsin, Shan-Hai-Kwan, Mukden, Dalniy, Port Arthur, and Seoul, London: Thomas Cook & Son, 1910