The China Far East Railway (a.k.a. Chinese Eastern Railway, CER) was a railway connecting China and the Russian Far East. Its Russian name is , or КВЖД (Kitaysko-Vostochnaya Zheleznaya Doroga, KVZhD).
The construction was started on July 1897 along the line Tarskaya - Hilar - Harbin - Nikolsk-Ussuriski . Officially the traffic started in November 1901, but regular passenger traffic from St.Petersburg to Vladivostok across the Trans-Siberian railway started in July 1903.
The administration of CER was in Harbin.
After the Russo-Japanese War, the Southern branch, Changchun - Port Arthur, was ceded to Japan.
During 1917-1924 (Russian Civil War) the Russian part of CER was under the administration of the White Army.
After 1924 CER was administered jointly by the USSR and China.
In 1935 the USSR had to sell all its rights to CER to the Manzhouguo government.
From August 1945 CER was again under joint control of the USSR and China. The joint control covered also the Southern branch; all this together was named the "Chinese Changchun Railway" (Russian: Кита́йская Чанчу́ньская желе́зная доро́га).
In 1952 the Soviet Union has transferred (free of charge) all its rights to the Chinese Changchun Railway to the People's Republic of China.
KVZhDists (Russian Harbinites)
KVZhDist and Harbinets (Harbinite, "person from Harbin") were terms in the Soviet Union for people in one way or another related to the KVZhD.
After 1935, many of them returned to the Soviet Union. Nearly all of them were repressed during the Great Purge, charged with espionage and counter-revolutionary activity according to the NKVD Order no. 00593 of September 20, 1937. According to the data collected by the Memorial Society, 48,133 KVZhDists were repressed, of which 30,992 were shot.
The fate or Russian Harbitites was unpleasant under the Manzhouguo and later under the Japanese occupation. In 1945, when the Soviet Army occupied Harbin, Russian Harbinites who were known as White Guardists or collaborated with the Japanese authorities were sent to labor camps.
After 1952, the second wave of repatriation of Russian Harbinites was initiated by the Soviet Union, and by mid-1960s virtually all of them left Harbin, This time there were no repressions.
- Mara Moustafine. Secrets and Spies: The Harbin Files. A Vintage Book series, Random House, Australia Pty Ltd, 468 pp.
- NKVD order about Kharbinites, in Russian