History of Harbin

Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang Province, Human settlement in the Harbin area can date back at least 2,200 BC. In 1115 BC, Jin Dynasty established their capital, Shangjing (Upper Capital) Huining Fu, in today's Acheng District of Harbin. However, the region of Harbin was still largely rural until the 1800s. There were only over ten villages and about 30,000 people in Harbin region by the end of the 19th century.

From 1896 to 1903, the Zhongdong Railway was constructed by China and Tsarist Russia. This development helped to increase the population and, thus, drew more business to the city. Harbin began to develop into a modern city, a process which was aided in the 1900s when it became an international commercial port.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution took place in Russia, defeated Russian White Guards and refugees retreated to the city in December 1918. The city became the largest Russian enclave outside the Soviet Union.

The Harbin Jewish community was formed by Russian Jews and after 1919, Dr. Abraham Kaufman played a leading role in this community. 

In 1923, Harbin established the first Chinese Communist Party organization in Northeastern China. The city became the command centre for local people‚Äôs revolutionary struggles and their fights against the Japanese. 

The Soviet Army took the city on 20 August 1945 and Harbin never came under the control of the Kuomintang, whose troops stopped 60 km (37 mi) short of the city. The city's administration was transferred by the departing Soviet Army to the Chinese People's Liberation Army in April 1946. 

On April 28, 1946, the Communist Government of Harbin was established, making the 700,000-citizen-city the first large city under CPC rule.

Harbin holds the China Harbin International economic and Trade Fair each year since 1990. 

Harbin once housed one of the largest Jewish communities in the Far East. It reached its peak in the mid-1920s when 25,000 European Jews lived in the city. Among them were the parents of Ehud Olmert, the former Prime Minister of Israel.

In 2004, Olmert came to Harbin with an Israeli trade delegation to visit the grave of his grandfather.  In 2009, Harbin held the XXIV Winter Universiade.


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