The Making of a Chinese City:History and Historiography in Harbin

 by SOREN CLAUSEN

Harbin is an odd city. From little more than a peasant village until the late 19th century it then became Russian under the control of the eastern railway company. It was the base for construction for the link to what was then Port Arthur(Lushun),at the bottom of the Liaoning Peninsula. Many observers in the first decade of the 20th century noted how the skyline and architecture convince it was clearly a Russian city.
The book looks at the development of Harbin in a chronological sequence, each chapter by a Chinese historian. Published in 1995 enough time had elapsed for the authors to take a cool look back, first at the history up to the incursions by the Russians, then the era of Japanese control,before China reclaimed the city after 1945. The book covers diverse topics in chapters. Foreign trade, the Chicken and Duck Company, development of labour unions, social conditions, brothels (Harbin was known as the ‘brothel of the east’ in the 1930’s), Japanese atrocities, and the assumption of control by Beijing.
For the student of Russo/Sino relations it is a useful source.