Skip to main content

Aigun, Treaty of


The Treaty of Aigun (May 28, 1858) granted the expanding Russian Empire vast new territories in eastern Siberia at the expense of China, which had entered upon a period of decline. In the late 1840s, after more than a century of stable relations with China, governed by the Treaties of Nerchinsk (1689) and Kiakhta (1728), Russia renewed its eastward expansion under the leadership of Nikolai Muraviev, the governor-general of Eastern Siberia, and Count E. V. Putiatin and General Nikolai Ignatiev, both of whom were diplomatic envoys. The three men shared a vision of Russia as a Pacific power, and operated as quasi-independent agents of an imperial state in this era before modern transportation and communications.

In the early 1850s, Russia sent a naval flotilla down the Amur River, established military settlements along its northern bank, and ignored Chinese protests. Focused on suppressing the Taiping rebellion that threatened the dynasty's hold on power, Chinese officials greatly feared Russian military power, the strength of which they overestimated. When they failed to persuade the Russians to withdraw from territories they considered part of their own domain, the Chinese had no choice but to negotiate with Muraviev, who had threatened them with war.

In accordance with Muraviev's demands, the Treaty of Aigun established the Russo-Chinese boundary along the Amur, from the Argun River in the west to the Sea of Okhotsk in the east. Russia was accorded navigation rights on the Amur, Ussuri, and Sungari rivers along with China, but third countries were excluded, as Muraviev feared encroachment by the British Navy. Trade, which had been previously been restricted to one point along the border, was now permitted along its entire length. China viewed the Treaty of Aigun as a temporary concession to Russian military pressure, but Muraviev and St. Petersburg correctly understood it as a giant step in Russia's rise as an Asia-Pacific power.

See also: china, relations with; muraviev, nikita


Clubb, O. Edmund. (1971). China and Russia: The "Great Game." New York: Columbia University Press.

Mancall, Mark. (1971). Russia and China: Their Diplomatic Relations to 1728. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Paine, S. C. M. (1997). Imperial Rivals: Russia, China, and Their Disputed Frontier. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Quested, Rosemary. (1984). Sino-Russian Relations: A Short History. Boston: George Allen & Unwin.

Tien-fong Cheng. (1973). A History of Sino-Russian Relations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973.

Steven I. Levine

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Aigun, Treaty of." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . 19 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Aigun, Treaty of." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . (February 19, 2019).

"Aigun, Treaty of." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Retrieved February 19, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.