Aigun, Treaty of
(1858)
   A Sino-Russian agreement negotiated between eastern Siberia’s governorgeneral, Nikolai Nikolaevich Muravev, and the regional Manchu governor, I-shan. The treaty ceded to the Russian Empire all lands north of the Amur River down to its confluence with the Ussuri River; allowed joint sovereignty by Russia and China over the lands east of the Ussuri; limited travel along the Amur, Ussuri, and Sungari Rivers to these two nations; and provided for trade between nationals living along these rivers.
   The treaty was a result of the “Far Eastern Policy” initiated by Russian Foreign Minister Aleksandr Mikhailovich Gorchakov in response to Anglo-French incursions into India and China in the 1850s. Muravev was given plenipotentiary powers to expand the empire’s borders and in the years leading up to the treaty began settling Cossacks and their families in the Amur River valley despite its being Chinese territory. When Muravev himself dramatically arrived aboard a gunboat at the Manchu garrison of Aigun, Governor I-shan initially refused his demands to sign the ready-made treaty, but several bluff cannonades forced him to change his mind.
   The Aigun Treaty was followed within weeks by the Treaty of Tientsin, negotiated by Admiral Evfimii Vasilevich Putiatin. Ignorant of Muravev’s treaty, Putiatin reproduced much of it in his own, although he also secured greater access to Chinese markets. In November 1860, the Russo-Chinese Convention of Peking con- firmed both treaties as well as formalized Russia’s annexation of the lands east of the Ussuri River. By such means Russia painlessly expanded its empire by 350,000 square miles - a territorial expansion equal to the size of France and Germany. Off with a bang, the “Far Eastern Policy” later culminated in Russia’s humiliation during in Russo-Japanese War.
   FURTHER READING:
    March, G. Patrick. Eastern Destiny: Russia in Asia and the North Pacific . Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996;
    Stephan, John J. The Russian Far East: A History. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.
   ANDREW A. GENTES

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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