Harbin Brief Introduction
Location: Western Heilongjiang Province
Urban Area: 1637 sq. km
Urban Population: 3,940,000
Average Summer Temp: 18C
Average Winter Temp: -12C
Distance from Beijing: 1248 km
Major Industries: Power Station Technology, Pharmaceuticals, Linen Production
Overview of Harbin
Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang Province, with a population of 5.3 million and covering an area of 18,000 square kilometers.
Located in eastern Songnen plain, it's a rolling land with low hills, and shallow valleys and crossed by the Songhua River. It has a semi-humid temperate climate with an annual average temperature of 3.5degree Celsius, rainfall of 530 millimeters and a frost-free period of 140 days. Its mineral resources are coal, quartzite, marble, copper, lead and zinc etc.
Harbin is one of China's key industrial bases, with machine building industry as its main stay. Foodstuff, petroleum, chemicals and textiles are its important prop-ups. The output value of its pharmaceutical industry ranks first in China. The main agricultural products are wheat, soybean, beet, flax, tobacco, poultry, etc. It's among China's major beet growing areas.
Harbin is the commercial center of Heilongjiang Province as well as the communication hub in the northern part of North-East China, with a well-developed railway and highway network. It has regular air links with over 30 cities at home and abroad. The Songhua River is an important waterway for shipping.
Harbin is also a famous historical and cultural city, reputed by tourists as "Ice Town". Winter and summer are most fascinating seasons to tourists. It is renowned for the annual "Ice and Snow Festival" in January.
The houses in Harbin can be classified as "European Classic Style", "Russian Wooden Structures" and "Scenic Architecture with fairy-tale features".
Harbin is aiming at building up an international economic and trade city in north-east Asia with manufacturing and processing, trade, finance communication, information, science, education and economic cooperation as its chief functions.
History of Harbin
Archaeological records show that prehistoric humans lived in the area around Harbin as long ago as 22,000 years ago. To date, more than ten prehistoric sites have been discovered in the region. In historical times, about a dozen aboriginal ethnic groups, including the Manchu who ruled China during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), lived and built their kingdoms in Harbin. By the end of the 19th Century, about 30,000 people lived in what are now the urban districts of the city.
In 1896, the Russian government seized power and extended the Siberian railway into northeastern China. They chose Harbin to manage the new section of the railway. With the gradual completion of the railway construction project, Harbin's population expanded quickly. By 1903, when the railway was completed, a modern city was starting to take shape. At that time, Harbin was divided into two sections. The first, the current DaoWai District, was under the control of the Qing government. The second, roughly equivalent to today's Dao Li and NanGang districts, was governed by Russian colonists, who rented it on the pretext of managing the railway.
Following the Russian defeat in the Russian-Japanese War (1904-5),Russia's influence declined, and 160,000 nationals from 33 countries including the United States, Germany, and France moved to Harbin. Sixteen countries established consulates and set up several thousand industrial, commercial and banking companies in Harbin. The Chinese also established their own businesses in brewing, foodstuffs and the textile industry. Harbin had established its status as the center of northeastern China and as an international metropolis.
Zhong Yang Street (Central Street), one of the main business streets in Harbin, is a perfect remnant of the bustling international business activities at the turn of the 20th century. The 1.4km long street is a veritable museum of European architectural style, including Baroque and Byzantine facades, little Russian bakeries, French fashion houses, American snack food outlets, Japanese restaurants, and a Christian church. Many citizens believe that the Christian church damaged the local fengshui, so they donated money to build a Chinese monastery, the JiLe Temple.
Harbin also prides itself on being one of the pioneering cities, along with Beijing and Shanghai, in spreading Marxism in China. In April 1919, Zhou En Lai, who later became Chinese premier, visited Harbin and engaged in revolutionary propaganda and organization. In 1923, Harbin saw northeastern China’s first branch of the Chinese Communist Party established. In 1927, the first Northeast China Regional Congress of Communists was held here. In 1929, a future Chinese president, Liu Shao Qi, came to Harbin to direct uprisings of railway workers. Harbin later grew into a center of revolutionary struggle and anti-Japanese efforts.
In the 1930s, when northeastern China was part of the Japanese puppet kingdom of Manchukuo, Harbin was directly under the control of that state’s Central Government. Harbin residents were forced to learn the Japanese language and suffered political prejudice under the virtual Japanese rule. During the Second World War the infamous Japanese 731 Division, a germ warfare experimental base, was located there, horrifically killing many Chinese and other nationals.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Harbin swiftly recovered from the years of war and rose to be one of the few major economic cities in China. It also provided strong backup to the Chinese army who were fighting the Americans in North Korea in the early 1950s. Later, the former Soviet Union's aid projects helped build Harbin into one of China's heavy industrial bases.
After the opening up and the reform of China in the late 1970s, Harbin, along with the rest of China, enjoyed enormous progress in the economy and in urban construction. The city grew into a major river port and has sponsored eight international trade fairs as well as the third Asian Winter Games.
In 1996, the State Council announced the incorporation of the SongHua River Region into the city, increasing Harbin’s population to 9.47 million. In terms of population, the city had become the largest citing northeastern China.
Harbin today has now set itself a more ambitious goal: to become an important international economic and trade city in northeastern Asia, which comprises Mongolia, North and South Korea, and Japan.