Amur Annexation
The Amur Annexation refers to the annexation of the southeast corner of Siberia by Russia from China in 1858–60. The two areas involved are the Priamurye between the Amur River and the Stanovoy Range to the north and the Primorye which runs down the coast from the Amur mouth to the Korean border. Note that this does not include Sakhalin
Sakhalin or Saghalien, is a large island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N.It is part of Russia, and is Russia's largest island, and is administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast...


In modern-day geography of Russia, Priamurye ("the Amur Lands") roughly corresponds to the Amur Oblast
Amur Oblast
Amur Oblast is a federal subject of Russia , situated about east of Moscow on the banks of the Amur and Zeya Rivers. It shares its border with the Sakha Republic in the north, Khabarovsk Krai and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the east, People's Republic of China in the south, and Zabaykalsky...

 and the southern half of the Khabarovsk Krai
Khabarovsk Krai
Khabarovsk Krai is a federal subject of Russia , located in the Russian Far East. It lies mostly in the basin of the lower Amur River, but also occupies a vast mountainous area along the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk, an arm of the Pacific Ocean. The administrative center of the krai is the...

, while Primorye ("the Maritime Lands"), to the Primorsky Krai
Primorsky Krai
Primorsky Krai , informally known as Primorye , is a federal subject of Russia . Primorsky means "maritime" in Russian, hence the region is sometimes referred to as Maritime Province or Maritime Territory. Its administrative center is in the city of Vladivostok...

 (and, possibly, adjacent sections of Khabarovsk Krai).


Hydrologically, the Stanovoy Mountains separate the rivers that flow north into the Arctic from those that flow south into the Amur River. Ecologically, the area is the southeastern edge of the Siberian boreal forest
Taiga , also known as the boreal forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests.Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States and is known as the Northwoods...

 with some areas good for agriculture along the middle Amur. Socially and politically, from about 600 AD, it was the northern fringe of the Chinese-Korean-Manchu world. For a Chinese view of this, see Outer Manchuria
Outer Manchuria
Outer Manchuria , is the territory ceded by China to Russia in the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Treaty of Peking in 1860. . The northern part of the area was also in dispute between 1643 and 1689...

 and Hulun (Manchuria).

In 1643 Russian adventurers spilled over the Stanovoys, but by 1689 they were driven back by the Manchus. For this, see Russian-Manchu border conflicts
Russian-Manchu border conflicts
The Russian–Manchu border conflicts were a series of intermittent skirmishes between the Manchus and the Cossacks in which the Cossacks tried and failed to gain the land north of the Amur River...

. By the Treaty of Nerchinsk
Treaty of Nerchinsk
The Treaty of Nerchinsk of 1689 was the first treaty between Russia and China. The Russians gave up the area north of the Amur River as far as the Stanovoy Mountains and kept the area between the Argun River and Lake Baikal. This border along the Argun River and Stanovoy Mountains lasted until...

 (1689) the two empires recognized the Stanovoys and the Argun River
Argun River
Argun River may refer to*Argun River , in Georgia and Russia*Argun River , part of the Russia–China border...

 as their border. This remained stable until the 1840s.

Following the voyages of Captain James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 significant numbers of British, French and American vessels began entering the Pacific. They were followed by Russians like Grigory Shelikhov
Grigory Shelikhov
Grigory Ivanovich Shelekhov Grigory Ivanovich Shelekhov Grigory Ivanovich Shelekhov (Григорий Иванович Шелехов in Russian; (1747–July 20, 1795 (July 31, 1795 N.S.)) was a Russian seafarer and merchant born in Rylsk....

 and Nikolai Rezanov
Nikolai Rezanov
Nikolay Petrovich Rezanov was a Russian nobleman and statesman who promoted the project of Russian colonization of Alaska and California. One of the ten barons of Russia, he was the first Russian ambassador to Japan , and participated in the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe ,...

 who were mainly concerned with the new Russian colonies in Alaska. This raised the problem of naval defense of the east coast on Siberia and the possibility of using the Amur River as a supply route to the Pacific.

Muravyov and the Treaty of Aigun (1858)

In 1845 Alexander von Middendorf entered the Amur country and wrote a report. In 1847 Aleksandr Gavrilov reached the mouth of the Amur but could not find a deep-water entrance.

In 1848 Gennady Nevelskoy
Gennady Nevelskoy
Gennady Ivanovich Nevelskoy was a Russian navigator.In 1848 Nevelskoy led the expedition in the Russian Far East, exploring the area of the Sakhalin and the outlet of the Amur River. He proved that the Strait of Tartary was not a gulf, but indeed a strait, connected to Amur's estuary by a narrow...

 was sent in the 'Baikal' to explore the Pacific coast. In 1849 he sailed part way up the Amur and then sailed south through the Tatar Strait, thereby proving that Sakhalin
Sakhalin or Saghalien, is a large island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N.It is part of Russia, and is Russia's largest island, and is administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast...

 was an island, a fact that was kept a military secret (see below). In 1850 he founded Nikolayevsk-on-Amur
Nikolayevsk-on-Amur often romanized as Nikolayevsk-na-Amure, is a town and the administrative center of Nikolayevsky District of Khabarovsk Krai, Russia located on the Amur River close to its liman in the Pacific Ocean...

 on what was allegedly Chinese territory. Karl Nesselrode
Karl Nesselrode
Baltic-German Count Karl Robert Nesselrode, also known as Charles de Nesselrode, was a Russian diplomat and a leading European conservative statesman of the Holy Alliance...

, the foreign minister, tried to overrule this, but Nicholas I declared the 'where once the Russian flag is raised, it must not be lowered.' In the next three years, Nevelskoy established other forts on the allegedly Chinese territory around the mouth of the Amur.

In 1847 Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky
Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky
Nikolay Nikolayevich Muravyov-Amursky was a Russian statesman and diplomat, who played a major role in the expansion of the Russian Empire into the Amur River basin and to the shores of the Sea of Japan.-Surname spelling:The surname Muravyov has also been transcribed as Muravyev or Murav'ev.-Early...

 was appointed governor-general of East Siberia. Before leaving for Irkutsk he arranged for the creation of an Amur Committee to coordinate work in the area. In 1849 he made an overland trip to Okhotsk
Okhotsk is an urban locality and a seaport at the mouth of the Okhota River on the Sea of Okhotsk, in Okhotsky District, Khabarovsk Krai, Russia. Population: 4,470 ;...

 and then to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the main city and the administrative, industrial, scientific, and cultural center of Kamchatka Krai, Russia. Population: .-History:It was founded by Danish navigator Vitus Bering, in the service of the Russian Navy...

. One result of this was the removal of the main naval center from Okhotsk to Petropavlovsk. He converted 20,000 mining serfs into Cossacks to give himself a military force (the Transbaikalian Cossacks
Baikal Cossacks
Baikal Cossacks were Cossacks of the Transbaikal Cossack Host , a Cossack host formed in 1851 in the areas beyond Lake Baikal ....

). In May–June 1854 he and 1,000 men sailed down the Amur to Nikolayevsk. The Manchu governor at Aigun
Aigun was a historic town of China in northern Manchuria, situated on the right bank of the Amur River, some 30 km south from the central urban area of Heihe .The Chinese name of the town, which literally means "Bright Jade", is a transliteration of the original Manchu Aigun was a historic...

 had no choice but to let them pass.

News of the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 reached the far east in July. In September an Anglo-French naval force was defeated at the Siege of Petropavlovsk
Siege of Petropavlovsk
The Siege of Petropavlovsk was the main operation on the Pacific Theatre of the Crimean War. The Russian casualties are estimated at 100 soldiers; the Allies lost five times as many....

. Judging that Petropavlovsk could not be defended, Muravyov ordered Rear Admiral Vasily Zavoyko
Vasily Zavoyko
Vasily Stepanovich Zavoyko was an admiral in the Russian navy.Born to a noble family of Poltava Governorate, in 1827 he took part in the Battle of Navarino, and in 1835-1838 he twice circumnavigated the Earth....

 to move his forces to the Amur area. In May of 1855 Charles Elliot's force found Zavoyko at De Kastri Bay (south of Cape Nevelskoy on the Tartar Strait). Under cover of fog, Zavoiko withdrew north to the mouth of the Amur, which baffled the British since they thought that Sakhalin was connected to the mainland.

In 1855 Muravyov sent a 3,000 man force down the Amur, including settlers. The Chinese declared this to be illegal, but did nothing. Also, in 1855 Russia and Japan signed the Treaty of Shimoda
Treaty of Shimoda
The Treaty of Shimoda of 1855, formally Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Russia , was signed between the Russian Vice-Admiral Euphimy Vasil'evich Putiatin and Toshiakira Kawaji of Japan in the city of Shimoda, Izu Province, Japan, on February 7, 1855...

 which temporarily resolved their conflict in Sakhalin
Sakhalin or Saghalien, is a large island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N.It is part of Russia, and is Russia's largest island, and is administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast...

 and the Kuril Islands
Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands , in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast region, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately northeast from Hokkaidō, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many more minor rocks. It consists of Greater...

. The Russian representative was Admiral Putyatin (see below).

The Second Opium War
Second Opium War
The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860...

 broke out in 1856. By 1858 the British and French had captured Canton
Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

. When news of this reached Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, the foreign minister, Alexander Gorchakov, who had replaced Nesselrode, decided that it was time to "activate Russian Far Eastern Policy.' Muravyov was given plenipotentiary powers and Admiral Yevfimy Putyatin
Yevfimy Putyatin
Yevfimy Vasilyevich Putyatin was a Russian admiral noted for his diplomatic missions to Japan and China which resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Shimoda in 1855.-Early life:...

 was sent to Peking to negotiate a more favorable relation.

In 1856 and 1857 Muravyov sent more settlers down the Amur. In 1858 he went himself. His instructions were not to use force except to rescue captives. On reaching Aigun he presented the local governor with a treaty, which was signed. This 'Treaty of Aigun
Treaty of Aigun
The Treaty of Aigun was a 1858 treaty between the Russian Empire, and the empire of the Qing Dynasty, the sinicized-Manchu rulers of China, that established much of the modern border between the Russian Far East and Manchuria , which is now known as Northeast China...

' basically assigned all the land north of the Amur to Russia and declared the area east of the Ussuri River
Ussuri River
The Usuri ula is a river in the south of the Outer Manchuria and east of Inner Manchuria . It rises in the Sikhote-Alin range, flowing north, forming part of the Sino-Russian border based on the Sino-Russian Convention of Peking in 1860, until it joins the Amur River at Khabarovsk . It is...

 and south of the Amur (northern Primorye) to be a Russo-Chinese condominium until further negotiations.

Muravyov continued down the Amur and founded Khabarovsk
Khabarovsk is the largest city and the administrative center of Khabarovsk Krai, Russia. It is located some from the Chinese border. It is the second largest city in the Russian Far East, after Vladivostok. The city became the administrative center of the Far Eastern Federal District of Russia...

 at the mouth of the Ussuri. Next September, Alexander II promoted him to full general and granted him the suffix '-Amursky'. In 1859 he sent an exploring expedition down the coast as far as Vladivostok.

Putyatin, Ignatyev and the Convention of Peking (1860)

Meanwhile Admiral Yevfimy Putyatin
Yevfimy Putyatin
Yevfimy Vasilyevich Putyatin was a Russian admiral noted for his diplomatic missions to Japan and China which resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Shimoda in 1855.-Early life:...

 was travelling overland to China. Reaching Kyakhta
Kyakhta is a town in the Republic of Buryatia, Russia, located on the Kyakhta River near the Russian-Mongolian border. Population: The town stands directly opposite the Mongolian border town of Altanbulag.-History:...

, he was refused entry (spring of 1857), so he sailed down the Amur and took ship to Tientsin
' is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China. It is governed as a direct-controlled municipality, one of four such designations, and is, thus, under direct administration of the central government...

. Refused entry again, he joined the British and French at Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

. When the allies took the Taku Forts
Taku Forts
The Dagu Forts , also called the Peiho Forts are forts located by the Hai River estuary, in Tanggu District, Tianjin municipality, in northeastern China. They are located 60 km southeast of the Tianjin urban center.-History:The first fort was built during the reign of the Ming Jiajing...

 Putyatin offered himself as a mediator. The result was the Treaties of Tientsin which granted most of the allied demands. Without fully informing the allies, Putyatin made a separate deal with the Chinese (June 13, 1858). In return for cannon, 20,000 rifles and military instructors the frontier would be adjusted in some unspecified way (Putyatin was not aware of the Treaty of Aigun which had been signed 16 days earlier.)

After the allies withdrew the Chinese failed to implement the treaties. The allies returned in June 1859, attempted to retake the Taku Forts
Taku Forts
The Dagu Forts , also called the Peiho Forts are forts located by the Hai River estuary, in Tanggu District, Tianjin municipality, in northeastern China. They are located 60 km southeast of the Tianjin urban center.-History:The first fort was built during the reign of the Ming Jiajing...

 and failed. As a result, the Chinese refused to ratify the treaties.

At this point a 27-year-old Major General named Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev entered the picture. In March 1859 he was assigned to accompany the Russian weapons and instructors. At the frontier he found that the Chinese had rejected the treaties and would not accept the weapons. He continued to Peking where he stayed at the Russian ecclesiastical mission and attempted to negotiate with the Manchus. Hearing of allied preparations, he joined the British and French in Shanghai and proved to be most helpful to the allied councils (he had a map of Peking and good interpreters). By October 1860 the British and French had retaken the Taku forts and entered Peking and the Emperor had fled to Jehol. Ignatyev now placed himself as an intermediary between the Europeans and Chinese. By the first two Treaties of Peking (October 24 and 25, 1860) nearly all the allied demands were met. Ignatyev continued negotiations for a Russo-Chinese treaty. He convinced the Chinese that only his support would cause the allies to leave the capital. The result was the Russo-Chinese Convention of Peking of November 14, 1860. By this, the Treaty of Tientsin was ratified and all the land north of the Amur and east of the Ussuri was ceded to Russia.

Thus, by pure diplomacy and only a few thousand troops, the Russians took advantage of Chinese weakness and the strength of the other European powers to annex 350000 square miles (906,495.8 km²) of Chinese territory. With the exception of Muravyov's rather ceremonial cannonade at Aigun, they had apparently not fired a single shot.
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