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Northeast China (; literally "east-north"), historically known as Manchuria, is the name of a region (ca. 1,550,000 km2) in Northeast Asia which is today the northeast part of People's Republic of China. Manchuria was the traditional homeland of peoples such as the Xianbei, the Khitan, the Jurchen, and most recently and famously, the Manchus, who lent their name to the region. Today, Northeast China has a population of about 100 million, of which the vast majority are Han Chinese.



The literal translation Manchuria in Chinese is Manzhou (滿洲), but Chinese generally find the use of that name in Chinese highly offensive because of its separatist connotations and because it invokes the memory of Japanese occupation under the puppet state of Manchukuo during World War II. In fact, calling someone from Northeast China a "Manchurian" (Manzhouren) may be construed as an insult, since this can be taken as implying that the person is a collaborationist and separatist; both of these concepts are usually viewed as deeply repugnant. If the term is used by Chinese, it is almost always preceded with the term Wei, meaning false.

Instead, the usual name of the region in Chinese is the Northeast, or in English, Northeast China. An inhabitant of Northeast China is a "Northeasterner" (Dongbeiren). "The Northeast" in this case is not just a word for a compass direction, but denotes the entire region, encompassing its history, culture, traditions, dialect, cuisine, and so forth. As such, other provinces in the northeastern part of China are not considered to be a part of the "Northeast"; only Manchurian provinces are. This is similar to the United States, where "The South" usually refers only to the southeastern states and their culture and history and not to states like California.

The use of the term Manchuria in English does not provoke nearly as strong a negative reaction among Chinese, but it is generally frowned upon. Few in Northeast China today would endorse the use of the word "Manchuria" in English or "Manzhou" in Chinese.


The region borders Mongolia in the west, Russia in the north and North Korea in the east. Since 1956 it has comprised Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Liaoning provinces (see map in Political divisions of China). Traditionally, the borders also included the eastern part of Inner Mongolia (specifically, the areas administered today by Hulunbuir, Xing'an League , Chifeng, and Tongliao ), and the northernmost part of Hebei Province, around Chengde.

Manchuria is more technically referred to as Inner Manchuria or Chinese Manchuria, and is contrasted with Outer Manchuria or Russian Manchuria, a region that stretches from the Amur and Ussuri rivers to the Stanovoy Mountains and the Sea of Japan, encompassing Sakhalin. These regions were part of the Manchu Qing Dynasty before being ceded to Russia in 1858 and 1860. Outer Manchuria is today administered by Russia as Primorsky Krai, southern Khabarovsk Krai, Sakhalin Oblast, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and Amur Oblast.

References to so-called Greater Manchuria can also be seen, which purely used as an ethnic history term. In addition to the area described above, Greater Manchuria also includes the whole of the Korean peninsula, the Sakhalin area and the Kuriles, as well as sometimes the Japanese archipelago. The term is sometimes used when discussing about the ethnic history of the area, and should in no way be used in conjunction with the situation of the political entities in the area.

Major cities:


Earlier history

Manchuria was the home of nomadic tribes of Manchu, Ulchi, Goldi and Nanai. Various ethnic groups or kingdoms including the Fuyu, Goguryeo, Xianbei, Khitan, Bohai (Mohe) and Jurchen have risen into power in Manchuria.

The Government of the Han Chinese loosely controlled southern Manchuria up until the Song dynasty. During the Song dynasty, the Khitan set up the Liao dynasty in Manchuria. Later, the Jurchen (Manchu) overthrew the Liao and formed the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). In 1644 the Manchu conquered China and established the Qing dynasty (1644-1912).

To the south, the region was separated from China proper by the Inner willow palisade, a ditch and embankment planted with willows intended to restrict the movement of the Han Chinese into Manchuria during the Qing dynasty, as the area was off-limits to them until the Qing started colonizing the area with the Han during the later parts of the dynasty. The Manchu area was still separated from modern-day Inner Mongolia by the Outer willow palisade, which kept the Manchu and the Mongols living in the area separate.

Russian and Japanese influence

To the north, the boundary with Russian Siberia was fixed by the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) as running along the watershed of the Stanovoy mountains. South of the Stanovoy Mountains, the basin of the Amur and its tributaries belonged to the Manchu Empire. North of the Stanovoy Mountains, the Uda valley and Siberia belonged to the Russian Empire. In 1858, a weakening Manchu China was forced to cede Manchuria north of the Amur to Russia at the Treaty of Aigun. In 1860, at the Treaty of Peking, the Russians managed to extort a further huge slice of Manchuria east of the Ussuri River, so that Manchuria was divided into a Russian half known as "Outer Manchuria" and a remaining Chinese half known as "Inner Manchuria". In modern literature, 'Manchuria' usually refers to Inner (Chinese) Manchuria. [cf. Inner and Outer ].

Manchuria was known for its shamanism, opium and tigers. The Manchu imperial symbol was a tiger with a ball of opium in its mouth. Manchu Emperors were, first and foremost, accomplished shamans. By the 19th century, Manchu rule had become increasingly sinicized and, along with other borderlands of the Chinese Empire such as Mongolia and Tibet, came under the influence of colonial powers. England nibbled at Tibet, France at Hainan, Germany at Shantung while Russia encroached upon Turkestan and Outer Mongolia, having annexed Outer Manchuria.

Inner Manchuria as well came under strong Russian influence with the building of the Chinese eastern railway through Harbin to Vladivostok. Japan replaced Russian influence in Inner Manchuria as a result of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905, and Japan laid the South Manchurian Railway in 1906 to Port Arthur (Japanese: Ryojun).

Between World War I and World War II Manchuria became a political and military battleground. Japanese influence extended into Outer Manchuria in the wake of the Russian Revolution but Outer Manchuria had reverted to Soviet Russian control by 1925. Japan took advantage of the disorder following the Russian Revolution to occupy Outer Manchuria but Soviet successes and American economic pressure forced Japanese withdrawal.

During the period of the warlords in China, Chang Tso-Lin established himself in Inner Manchuria but, being too independent for the increasing Japanese influence, he was murdered; the last Manchu emperor, Pu Yi, was then placed on the throne as to lead a Japanese puppet government. Inner Manchuria was proclaimed as an "independent" state, Manchukuo. Inner Manchuria was thus formally detached from China by Japan in the 1930s to create a buffer zone to defend Japan from Russia's Southing Strategy and, with Japanese investment and rich natural resources, became an industrial powerhouse. Prior to World War II, Manchuria was colonized by the Japanese and Manchukuo was used as a base to invade China, an expensive action (in men, matériel and political integrity) that was as costly to Japan as the invasion of Russia was to Nazi Germany, and for the same reasons.

After World War Two

After the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945 the Soviet Union invaded from Russian Manchuria as part of its declaration of war against Japan. From 1945 to 1948, Inner Manchuria was a base area for the Communist People's Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War. With the encouragement of Soviet Russia, Manchuria was used as a staging ground during the Civil War for the Chinese Communists, victorious in 1949.

During the Korean War of the 1950s, 300,000 soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army crossed the Chinese-Korean border from Manchuria to recapture Korea from South Korean and American Forces.

In the 1960s, Manchuria became the site of the most serious tension between Soviet Russia and Communist China. The treaties of 1858 and 1860 which ceded territory north of the Amur were ambigious as to which course of the river was the boundary. This ambiguity led to dispute over the political status of several islands. This led to armed conflict in 1969, called the Sino-Soviet border conflict. With the end of the Cold War, this boundary issue has been resolved.


Manchuria was the first region to industrialize in China. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Northeast China continued to be a major industrial base of China. Recent years, however, has seen the stagnation of Northeast China's heavy-industry-based economy as China's economy continues to liberalize and privatize; the government has initialized the Revitalize the Northeast campaign to counter this problem.


The three provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning have a total population of 107,400,000 people. The majority of the population of Northeast China is Han Chinese. Manchus form a significant minority, and have been almost completely assimilated into the Han Chinese; the Manchu language is almost extinct, and many Han Chinese in Northeast China, as well as the rest of China, can claim some Manchu ancestry. Other major ethnic groups include the Mongols and the Koreans.


The concept of "Northeast China" is important in the way Northeastern Chinese view themselves. People from Northeast China usually define themselves as "Northeasterners" first and then by province (Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang). This stands in contrast with the rest of China, where people usually identify themselves first and foremost by province.

This self-concept exists in part because Northeast China is culturally homogeneous — Northeasterners have a sense that they are similar to each other, and different from the rest of China. This is because most people in Northeast China are descended from relatively recent immigrants, who left their homes in the late 19th or early 20th century to trailblaze a new life in Manchuria, which was relatively empty at the time. Also, provincial boundaries in the Northeast have been more temporary than in other parts of China, thus giving little time for provincial identities or cultural contrasts to take hold. Most other provincial boundaries were fixed during the Ming dynasty while those in Northeast China were first drawn in the late 19th century and have been changed numerous times since then.

In general, the culture of Northeast China takes its elements from the cultures of north China, especially Shandong where most of the Han Chinese migration into Manchuria originated, and has innovated on its own.

People from Northeast China speak northeastern varieties of Mandarin Chinese, known collectively as Dongbeihua, or the Northeast China dialect . This dialect is very similar to the Beijing dialect, upon which standard Chinese (Putonghua) is based; however there are enough differences to give the Northeast China dialect its own distinctive flavour, one that is frequently exploited by television shows and so forth to bring across a "northeasterner stereotype", for comedic purposes. Ethnic Manchus speak Chinese, and the Manchu language is almost extinct. Ethnic Koreans and Mongols tend to be bilingual in both their own languages (Korean language and Mongol language) and the Chinese language.

The cuisine of Northeast China is distinguished by the use of uncooked vegetables. In almost every other region of China, vegetables are cooked thoroughly before being eaten. Northeast China is also distinguished by the popularity of extremely strong distilled spirits known collectively as baijiu.

Errenzhuan and Jiju are popular forms of traditional entertainment in Northeast China.

Northeast China is the base for China's winter sports. Ice hockey and skating athletes often come from or were educated in Northeast China.


Northeastern Chinese are usually stereotyped to be loud, open, honest people, sincere in friendship and quick in making decisions; but also boisterous and prone to fighting. This stereotype may originate from the fact that most northeasterners are descended from 19th-century Han Chinese immigrants, who are romanticized as pioneers and trailblazers to the frontier, as well as pre-19th-century non-Han Chinese groups like the Manchus, romanticized as free, unconstrained nomads roaming the great grasslands.

The title of this article does not imply any official position by Wikipedia on the correct name of this region.

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