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Nerchinsk, Treaty of


The Treaty of Nerchinsk was a Sino-Russian peace treaty negotiated and signed at the Siberian border point of Nerchinsk in August and September 1689.

Armed conflict in the Far East of Russia rose out of the advance of Russian colonists to Dahuria during the middle of the seventeenth century, since the Manchus claimed the Amur basin. The growing tension came to a head in the sieges of the fortress of Albazin in 1685 and 1686, when the Manchus ultimately forced the Russians to surrender. In a bid to settle the problem, in 1685 the Russian government appointed Fyodor Alexeyevich Golovin as its first ambassador plenipotentiary to China. His brief was to delineate a border on the Amur and gain the Russians a secure right to trade in the river valley.

After two weeks of negotiations with Songgotu and T'ung Kuo-kang, a peace treaty was signed in September 1689 and the preconditions created for a stable trading relationship. The Russians ended up ceding all rights to the Amur valley, as well as to Albazin, but gained a regularized and potentially lucrative commercial relationship. The Chinese, having secured the areas near the Ch'ing dynasty's ancestral home, permitted the Russians to keep Nerchinsk, recognizing its potential for trade. Merchants from either side were to be permitted to visit the other with proper passports. The arrival of the Manchu delegation for the negotiations also marked the beginning of large-scale border trade: At least 14,160 rubles' worth of goods were imported that year from China through the new frontier trading post.

The treaty envisaged Russian caravans traveling to Beijing once every three years, but during the decade following Nerchinsk, such trips were made more or less annually. In 1696 alone, 50,000 rubles' worth of furs were exported via Nerchinsk.

The treaty put an end to Sino-Russian armed conflict for 165 years.

See also: china, relations with; foreign trade


Foust, Clifford M. (1969). Muscovite and Mandarin: Russia's Trade with China and its Setting, 17251805. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Mancall, Mark. (1971). Russia and China: Their Diplomatic Relations to 1728 (Harvard East Asian Series 61). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Miasnikov, Vladimir Stepanovich. (1985). The Ch'ing Empire and the Russian State in the Seventeenth Century, tr. Vic Schneierson. Moscow: Progress.

Jarmo T. Kotilaine

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