top of page



N 50° 15′ 08′′, E 127° 35′ 51′′
130 MASL
Figure III.1.30_keymaprefont.jpg
Figure III.1.30_atlas.jpg
Background Prepare C30A1.jpg

A Nanai hunter skis on an ice floe in the 1890s. As descendants of the Jurchens of the extreme north of Manchuria (Outer Manchuria), the Nanai (meaning “people of the land/earth”) are a semi-nomadic group who traditionally fished and hunted along the Amur/Heilong River, the Ussuri/Wusuli River, and the Sungari/Songhua River. Since the 19th century, the Nanai have supplemented hunting and fishing with cottage gardens and stock breeding.

Background Prepare C30B1.jpg

An aerial view of the Blagoveshchensk–Heihe Bridge under construction. Almost three decades after a bridge across the Amur was proposed by the Soviet Union in 1988, construction of the first highway bridge between China and Russia started in 2016. Costing $307 million U.S. dollars, and measuring 1,284 meters in length, the bridge is expected to accommodate a 3-fold increase in passenger numbers and a 10-fold increase in cargo volume.

1683: The Amur or Heilong River valley became the forefront of confrontation between Qing China and Tsarist Russia, as Russia’s foreign trade and economic expansion reached the Far East in the 17th century. Aigun (now Heihe) was used by the Manchus as a base for their campaign against the Russian fort of Albazin on the Amur River and became the seat of the military governor of Heilongjiang in 1683.


1689: Qing and Russia signed the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689. The treaty dealt with border delineation and reciprocal rights of trade and travel and recognized the Chinese sovereignty over both sides of the Amur River.


1858: Distracted by the Taiping Civil War and the Second Opium War, China signed the Treaty of Aigun in 1858, which reversed the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk by granting the entire left bank of the Amur River to Russia. Hailanpao, the settlement at the confluence of the Amur and Zeya Rivers, was renamed Blagoveshchensk (literally “the city of good news”) and designated as the seat of government for the Amur region.


1900: The old town of Aigun was destroyed by Russian Cossacks and bandits in a raid in 1900. Chinese merchants moved 30-kilometer upstream to Heihe, immediately opposite the Russian settlement of Blagoveshchensk.


1905: In the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War, China and Japan signed the Japanese Treaty Relating to Manchuria, according to which, China would open 16 towns and cities in the northeast, including Aigun (Heihe), for international trade.


1907: The construction of the Amur Railway, the last section of the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia, commenced. The railway included an offshoot to Blagoveshchensk from Kerak-Deya.


1917: After the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912, Heihe Prefecture fell under the jurisdiction of Aigun County. The Russian Revolution of 1917 gave Heihe a temporary boost, and Chinese merchants began buying Russian vessels for river trade.


1921: Aigun Customs was established.


1929: Aigun was one of the major battlefields during the 1929 Sino-Soviet conflict that fought over the administration of the Northern Chinese Eastern Railway. The Aigun Port was temporarily closed and reopened in 1930.


1932: Tensions between the Russia and Japan escalated after the Japanese expansion in the northeast China region bordering the Soviet Far East in 1931 and the establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1932. The Aigun Port closed again in September 1932.


1933: The Japanese army occupied Heihe and took control of the Aigun Port. Work on the Bei’an–Heihe Railway started, which was initiated by the Manchukuo National Railway to connect Heihe with Bei’an on the Hailun–Keshan Railway. The Bei’an–Heihe Railway was completed and opened to traffic in 1935.


1945: The Soviet Red Army took military control over the Bei’an–Heihe Railway after the outbreak of the Soviet-Japanese War in 1945. A temporary railway was built on the frozen Amur River that winter, connecting the Chinese Bei’an–Heihe Railway with the Soviet Amur Railway to transport war booty.


1946: The Soviet Red Army dismantled the entire Bei’an–Heihe Railway upon its withdrawal from China in April 1946.


1957: The Heihe Port resumed small border trade with the Soviet Union.


1963: The reconstruction of the Bei’an–Heihe Railway started in 1963 but was put on hold in 1966 due to the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution and worsening Sino-Soviet relations. By Spring 1966, only the Bei’an–Longzhen section was completed.


1986: China and the Soviet Union reached an agreement to reopen the Heihe Port in 1983. The Port officially opened in 1986, and the reconstruction of the Longzhen–Heihe section of the Bei’an–Heihe Railway resumed that year.


1988: The Soviet Union proposed to China to build a road bridge connecting Blagoveshchensk and Heihe.


1989: The Bei’an–Heihe Railway was opened to traffic and was further connected to Harbin through the Harbin–Bei’an Railway.


1992: Heihe City was designated as a border open city, and Heihe Border Economic Cooperation Zone was established. The Heihe Port started to open all year round, with motor transport used during the frozen river season.


1998: The new inspection building on Daheihe Island was opened.


2007: The Ministry of Industry and Energy of Russia approved the Eastern Gas Program, a pipeline that transports natural gas from Yakutia to Primorsky Krai in eastern Siberia.


2012: In late 2012, the Eastern Gas Program was officially renamed Power of Siberia, and pipeline construction started. A 30-year gas deal was signed by Russia and China in 2014, and the construction of the pipeline connecting Blagoveshchensk and Heihe started in 2015.


2016: China and Russia signed an agreement to build the Blagoveshchensk-Heihe Bridge in 1995. After a decade’s worth of consultations and studies, the construction finally started in December 2016.


2019: The Power of Siberia pipeline was filled with gas in October, and deliveries to China started in December 2019. The Blagoveshchensk-Heihe Bridge was completed in 2019, but the opening has been postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

bottom of page