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Harbin, China

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Harbin, China

For other uses, see Harbin (disambiguation).
Sub-provincial city
Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Hongbo Square and surrounding, Harbin Xinhua Bookstore, Saint Sofia Church, Harbin Mosque, and the Ji Le Temple

Nickname(s): Ice City, Oriental Paris, Oriental Moscow

Harbin (red) in Heilongjiang (orange)

Location of the city center in Heilongjiang

Coordinates: 45°45′N 126°38′E / 45.750°N 126.633°E / 45.750; 126.633Coordinates: 45°45′N 126°38′E / 45.750°N 126.633°E / 45.750; 126.633

Country People's Republic of China
Province Heilongjiang
County-level divisions 18[1]
 • secretary of a municipal committee of the CPC Lin Duo 林 铎 (since April, 2012)
 • Mayor Song Xibin 宋希斌 (since January, 2012)
 • Sub-provincial city 53,100 km2 (20,500 sq mi)
 • Urban 7,068 km2 (2,729 sq mi)
 • Metro 7,068 km2 (2,729 sq mi)
Elevation 150 m (488 ft)
Population (2010)[4]
 • Sub-provincial city 10,635,971
 • Density 200/km2 (520/sq mi)
 • Urban 5,282,083
 • Urban density 750/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
 • Metro 5,878,939
 • Metro density 830/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Time zone China Standard (UTC+8)
Postal code 150000
Area code(s) 451
License plate prefixes A,L
GDP (2011) CNY 4243.4 billion
 - per capita CNY 39,896
City flowers Lilac

Harbin (

Harbin, which was originally a Manchu word meaning "a place for drying fishing nets", grew from a small rural settlement on the Songhua River to become one of the largest cities in the northeast. The city first prospered as a region inhabited by an overwhelming majority of the Jewish immigrants. It is known for its bitterly cold winters and is often called the "Ice City." Harbin is notable for its beautiful ice sculptures in winter and its Russian legacy, and it still plays an important part in Sino-Russian trade today. In the 1920s, the city was considered China's fashion capital since new designs from Paris and Moscow reached there first before arriving in Shanghai.[6] In 2010, Harbin was declared a UNESCO "City of Music".[7]


Early history

Human settlement in the Harbin area dates from at least 2200 BC (late Stone Age). In 1115 CE, Jin Dynasty established their capital, Shangjing (上京 or Upper Capital) Huining Fu (会宁府), in today's Acheng District of Harbin.[8] However, the region of Harbin was still largely rural until the 1800s. There were only over ten villages and about 30,000 people in Harbin region by the end of the 19th century.[9]

Foreign influence

A small village in 1898 grew into the modern city of Harbin.[10] Polish engineer Adam Szydłowski drew plans for the city following the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway (KVZhD), which the Russian Empire had financed.[11] The Chinese Eastern Railway extended the Trans-Siberian Railway: substantially reducing the distance from Chita to Vladivostok and also linking the new port city of Dalny (Dalian) and the Russian Naval Base Port Arthur. However, this expansion proved controversial, and one of the causes of the Boxer Rebellion; the rebels martyred thousands of ethnic Chinese Christians, including orthodox bishop Metrophanes, Chi Sung, before Western expeditionary forces helped crush the insurrection. During the Russo-Japanese War (1904–5), Russia used Harbin as its base for military operations in Northeastern China.

Following Russia's defeat, its influence declined. Several thousand nationals from 33 countries, including the United States, Germany, and France moved to Harbin. Sixteen countries established consulates to serve their nationals, who established several hundred industrial, commercial and banking companies. Churches were rebuilt for Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, Lutheran/German Protestant, and Polish Catholic Christians. Chinese capitalists also established businesses, especially in brewing, food and textiles. Harbin became the economic hub of northeastern China and an international metropolis.[9] In 1913 the Chinese Eastern Railway census showed its ethnic composition as: Russians – 34313, Chinese (that is, including Hans, Manchus etc.) – 23537, Jews – 5032, Poles – 2556, Japanese – 696, Germans – 564, Tatars – 234, Latvians – 218, Georgians – 183, Estonians – 172, Lithuanians – 142, Armenians – 124; there were also Karaims, Ukrainians, Bashkirs, and some Western Europeans. In total, 68549 citizens of 53 nationalities, speaking 45 languages.[12]

After Russia's Great October Socialist Revolution in December 1918, more than 100,000 defeated Russian White Guards and refugees retreated to Harbin, which became a major center of White Russian émigrés and the largest Russian enclave outside the Soviet Union. The city had a Russian school system, as well as publishers of Russian language newspapers and journals. After 1919, Dr. Abraham Kaufman played a leading role in Harbin's large Russian Jewish community.[13] The Republic of China discontinued diplomatic relations with Imperial Russia in 1920, so many Russians found themselves stateless. When the Chinese Eastern Railway and government in Beijing announced in 1924 that they agreed the railroad would only employ Russian or Chinese nationals, the emigrees were forced to announce their ethnic and political allegiance. Most accepted Soviet citizenship.

Japanese invasion period

Japan invaded Manchuria outright after the Mukden Incident in September 1931. After the Japanese captured Tsitsihar in the Jiangqiao Campaign, the Japanese 4th Mixed Brigade moved toward Harbin, closing in from the west and south. Bombing and strafing by Japanese aircraft forced the Chinese army to retreat from Harbin. Within a few hours the Japanese occupation of Harbin was complete.[14]

With the establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo, the Pacification of Manchukuo began, as volunteer armies continued to fight the Japanese. Harbin became a major operations base for the infamous medical experimenters of Unit 731, who killed people of all ages and ethnicities. Twelve were found guilty in the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials but later repatriated; others received secret immunity before the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal in exchange for biological warfare work in the Cold War. Chinese revolutionaries including Zhao Shangzhi, Yang Jingyu, Li Zhaolin, Zhao Yiman continued to struggle against the Japanese. In 1935, the Soviet Union sold the Chinese Eastern Railway (KVZhD) to the Japanese, and many Russian emigres left Manchuria, especially Harbin. Most departing Russians returned to the Soviet Union, but a substantial number moved south to Shanghai or emigrated to the United States and Australia.

Many of Harbin's Jews (13,000 in 1929) fled after the Japanese occupation. Most left for Shanghai, Tientsin, and the British Mandate of Palestine.[15] In the late 1930s, some German Jews fleeing the Nazis moved to Harbin. Japanese officials later facilitated Jewish emigration to several cities in western Japan, notably Kobe, which came to have Japan's largest synagogue.

Post World War II

The Soviet Army took the city on 20 August 1945 and Harbin never came under the control of the Kuomintang, whose troops stopped 60 km (37 mi) short of the city. The city's administration was transferred by the departing Soviet Army to the Chinese People's Liberation Army in April 1946. On April 28, 1946, the Communist Government of Harbin was established, making the 700,000-citizen-city the first large city under CPC rule.[9] During the short occupation of Harbin by the Soviet Army (August 1945 to April 1946), thousands of Russian emigres who fled communism after the revolution, were forcibly moved to the Soviet Union. The rest of the European community (Russians, Germans, Poles, Greeks, etc.) emigrated during the years 1950–54 to Australia, Brazil and the USA, or were repatriated to their home countries. By 1988 the original Russian community numbered just thirty, all of them elderly.

Since the transportation between Harbin and Soviet Union was very convenient, Harbin was among one of the key construction cities of China during the First Five-Year Plan period from 1951 to 1956. 13 of the 156 key construction projects were aid-constructed by the Soviet Union in Harbin. This project made Harbin an important industrial base of China. During the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1961, Harbin experienced a very tortuous development course as several Sino-Soviet contracts were cancelled by the Soviet Union.[16] During the Cultural Revolution many foreign and Christian things were uprooted, such as the St. Nicholas church which was destroyed by Red Guards in 1966. As the normal economic and social order was seriously disrupted, Harbin's economy also suffered from serious setback.

However, national economy and social service have obtained significant achievements since the economic reforms first introduced in 1979. Harbin holds the China Harbin International economic and Trade Fair each year since 1990.[9] Harbin once housed one of the largest Jewish communities in the Far East. It reached its peak in the mid-1920s when 25,000 European Jews lived in the city. Among them were the parents of Ehud Olmert, the former Prime Minister of Israel. In 2004 Olmert came to Harbin with an Israeli trade delegation to visit the grave of his grandfather.[17]

A benzene plant situated upstream in Jilin City along the Songhua River exploded on 13 November 2005. Benzene levels reached more than 100 times normal levels, which led authorities in Harbin to shut off the water supply, and some residents left the city while others rushed to buy bottled water. After a few days the water supply was restored. The Harbin government originally declared to the public that the water supply was temporarily off while the supply system was checked. They also denied reports of a chemical leak, claiming that it was "just a rumour."[18]

The eight counties of Harbin originally formed part of Songhuajiang Prefecture (松花江地区), and became incorporated into Harbin on 11 August 1999, making Harbin a sub-provincial city. The municipality had 10,635,971 inhabitants at the 2010 census and its built up area now covers seven districts of Harbin municipality: all urban districts plus Hulan county who is merging with Songbei districts. The built up area is now home to 5,282,083 inhabitants spread out on 4,275 km2 (1,651 sq mi).[4]

Harbin hosted the third Asian Winter Games in 1996. In 2009, Harbin held the XXIV Winter Universiade.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: CMA [19]

Harbin, with a total land area of 53,068 km2 (20,490 sq mi), is located in southern Heilongjiang province, on the southeastern edge of the Songnen Plain (松嫩平原). The city center also sits on the southern bank of the middle Songhua River. Harbin received its nickname The pearl on the swan's neck, since the shape of Heilongjiang resembles a swan.[20] Its administrative area is rather large with latitude spanning 44° 04′−46° 40′ N, and longitude 125° 42′−130° 10' E.[21] Neighbouring prefecture-level cities are Yichun to the north, Jiamusi and Qitaihe to the northeast, Mudanjiang to the southeast, Daqing to the west, and Suihua to the northwest. On its southwestern boundary is Jilin province. The main terrain of the city is generally flat and low-lyling, with an average elevation of around 150 metres (490 ft). However, the territory that comprises the 10 county-level divisions in the eastern part of the municipality bears plenty of mountains and uplands.


Under the Köppen climate classification, Harbin features a monsoon-influenced, humid continental climate (Dwa). Due to the Siberian high and its location above 45 degrees north latitude, the city is known for its coldest weather and longest winter among major Chinese cities.[20] Its "Ice City" (冰城) nickname is well-earned, as winters here are dry and bitterly cold, with a 24-hour average in January of only −18.4 °C (−1.1 °F), although the city sees little precipitation during the winter and is often sunny. Spring and autumn constitute brief transition periods with variable wind directions. Summers can be hot, with a July mean temperature of 23.0 °C (73.4 °F). Summer is also when most of the year's rainfall occurs, and more than half of the annual precipitation, at 524 millimetres (20.6 in), occurs in July and August alone. On average precipitation falls 104 days out of the year. The annual mean temperature is +4.25 °C (39.6 °F), and extreme temperatures have ranged from −42.6 °C (−45 °F) to 39.2 °C (103 °F).[22] The city receives 2,571 hours of bright sunshine annually.


Main article: 2013 Harbin smog

Due to Harbin's location in Northern China, temperatures can reach −40 °C (−40 °F),[23] necessitating usage of a coal-powered district heating system which can cause heavy pollution in the city.[24] In October 2013, record smog was recorded in the city, reducing visibility to below 50 m (160 ft) in parts of Harbin, and below 500 m (1,600 ft) in sections of the neighboring Jilin province.[25]

Administrative divisions

The sub-provincial city of Harbin has direct jurisdiction over 8 districts ( ), 3 county-level cities ( shì) and 7 Counties ( xiàn). On August 15, 2006, Dongli District (动力区) merged into Xiangfang District while Acheng District was established in place of the former Acheng City.[1]

# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population
Area (km²) Density (/km²)
City proper
1 Daoli District 道里区 Dàolǐ Qū 923,762 479 1,929
2 Nangang District 南岗区 Nángǎng Qū 1,343,857 183 7,343
3 Daowai District 道外区 Dàowài Qū 906,421 257 3,527
4 Xiangfang District 香坊区 Xiāngfáng Qū 916,408 340 2,695
5 Pingfang District 平房区 Píngfáng Qū 190,253 94 2,024
6 Songbei District 松北区 Sōngběi Qū 236,848 736 322
7 Hulan District 呼兰区 Hūlán Qū 764,534 2,186 350
8 Acheng District 阿城区 Àchéng Qū 596,856 2,770 215
Satellite cities
9 Shuangcheng 双城市 Shuāngchéng Shì 825,634 3,112 265
10 Shangzhi 尚志市 Shàngzhì Shì 585,386 8,895 66
11 Wuchang 五常市 Wǔcháng Shì 881,224 7,512 117
12 Yilan County 依兰县 Yīlán Xiàn 388,319 4,672 83
13 Fangzheng County 方正县 Fāngzhèng Xiàn 203,853 2,993 68
14 Bin County 宾县 Bīn Xiàn 551,271 3,846 143
15 Bayan County 巴彦县 Bāyàn Xiàn 590,555 3,138 188
16 Mulan County 木兰县 Mùlán Xiàn 277,685 3,602 77
17 Tonghe County 通河县 Tōnghé Xiàn 210,650 5,755 37
18 Yanshou County 延寿县 Yánshòu Xiàn 242,455 3,226 75


Harbin is located in Northeast China, along with several other major cities including Changchun, Dalian and Shenyang. While Dalian is considered the region's shipping center and Shenyang its financial hub, Harbin is striving hard towards becoming the key trade and shopping center of the region. The city is located in one of the fastest growing regions in the world and can boast a number of advantages such as an abundance of natural resources, good transport system and plenty of human resources.[26]

In 2010, Harbin's GDP reached RMB366.59 billion, an increase of 14.0 percent over the previous year. Harbin is the largest economy in Heilongjiang province. [27] Tertiary industry output remained the largest component of GDP reaching RMB186.86 billion, an increase of 13.5 percent from the previous year. The total value for imports and exports by the end of 2010 was US$4.4 billion.[28]

The soil in Harbin, called “black earth” is one of the most nutrient rich in all of China, making it valuable for cultivating food and textile-related crops. As a result, Harbin is China’s base for the production of commodity grain and an ideal location for setting up agricultural businesses. Harbin also has industries such as light industry, textile, medicine, food, automobile, metallurgy, electronics, building materials, and chemicals which help to form a fairly comprehensive industrial system. Harbin Power Equipment Group Company and Northeast Light Alloy Processing Factory are two key enterprises. Harbin is also known as the capital of power manufacturing; hydro and thermal power equipment manufactured here makes up one-third of the total installed capacity in China.[29]

Foreign investors seem upbeat about the city. The Harbin Trade and Economic fair, has been held for 17 years annually, cumulatively attracting more than 1.3 million exhibitors and visitors and resulting in contracts of over US$90 billion. Japanese, Russian and Eastern European nations are increasingly looking to North China and Harbin for investment. Foreign direct investment remains low, but is growing as a result of government efforts, with utilized FDI totaling US$570 million, up 28.1 percent, in 2008.[30]

Harbin is also home to Harbin Institute of Technology, one of China's better known universities. Founded in 1920, the university has developed into an important research university focusing on engineering, with supporting faculties in the sciences, management, humanities and social sciences. The institute's faculty and students contributed to and invented China's first analog computer, the first intelligent chess computer, and the first arc-welding robot. In 2010, research funding from the government, industry, and business sectors surpassed RMB1.13 billion, the second highest of any university in China.[31]

Economic Development Zones and Ports[32]

  • Harbin Development Zone
    • Harbin Economic and Technological Development Zone
    • Harbin High and New Technological Development Zone

Harbin High-tech Zone was set up in 1988 and was approved by the State Council as a national development zone in 1991. It has a total area of 34 sqkm in the centralized parks, subdivided into Nangang, Haping Road and Yingbin Road Centralized Parks. The Nangang Centralized Park is designated for the incubation of high-tech projects and research and development base of enterprises as well as tertiary industries such as finance, insurance, services, catering, tourism, culture, recreation and entertainment, where the headquarters of large famous companies and their branches in Harbin are located; the Haping Road Centralized Park is a comprehensive industrial basis for the investment projects of automobile and automobile parts manufacturing, medicines, foodstuffs, electronics, textile; the Yingbin Road Centralized Park is mainly for high-tech incubation projects, high-tech industrial development.[33]

  • Harbin Port
  • Harbin High-tech Industrial Development Zone


The 2010 census revealed that the official total population in Harbin was 10,635,971, representing a 12.99% increase over the last decade.[34] The urban area had a population of 5.87 million people. The demographic profile for the Harbin metropolitan area in general is relatively old: 10.95% are under the age of 14, while 8.04% are over 65, compared to the national average of 16.6% and 8.87%, respectively. Harbin has a higher percentage of males (50.85%) than females (49.15%).[35] Harbin currently has a lower birth rate than other parts of China, with 6.95 births per 1,000 inhabitants, compared to the Chinese average of 12.13 births.[36]

Ethnic groups

Most of Harbin's residents belong to the Han Chinese majority(93.45 percent). Ethnic minorities include the Manchu, Hui, and Mongol. In 2000, 616,749 residents belonged to minority nationalities, among which the vast majority (433,340) were Manchu, contributing 70.26 percent to the minority population. The second and third largest minority groups were Koreans (119,883) and Hui nationalities (39,995).

Ethnic groups in Harbin, 2000 census[37]
Ethnicity Population Percentage
Han 8,796,610 93.45%
Manchu 433,340 4.6%
Koreans 119,883 1.27%
Hui 39,995 0.43%
Mongols 13,163 0.14%
Xibe 4,741 0.05%
Daur 938 0.01%
Others 4,689 0.05%


The Harbin local culture is based on Han culture, combined with Manchu culture and Russian culture. This combination of cultures influences the local architecture style, food, music, and customs. The city of Harbin was appointed a UNESCO City of Music on 22 June 2010 as part of the Creative Cities Network.

Russian influence

Main article: Harbin Russians

Harbin today is still very much influenced by its Russian past. A city once under Russian rule, it is now a center of trade with that country.

The influence of Russia came with the construction of the China Far East Railway, an extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and Harbin, known formerly as a fishing village, began to prosper as the largest commercial center of North Eastern Asia.

Tsarist Russia encouraged Russian settlement in their important Trans-Siberian-Railway outpost by waiving the then 25-year long military service obligation. For Jews who settled there, the restrictions applying in Russia were also waived.

The local cuisine in Harbin is also Russian-influenced. Harbin's bakeries are famous for their bread da-lie-ba(大列巴) in local dialect, derived from the Russian word khleb for "bread". Harbin's sausages (harbin hong-chang) are another notable product, in that they tend to be of a much more European flavours than other Chinese sausages.

Winter culture

Harbin is located in Northeast China under the direct influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. The average temperature in summer is 21.2 °C (70.2 °F) and −16.8 °C (1.8 °F) in winter.

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has been held since 1985. Although the official start date is January 5 each year, in practice, many of the sculptures can be seen before. While there are ice sculptures throughout the city, there are two main exhibition areas: Enormous snow sculptures at Sun Island (a AAAAA-rated recreational area on the opposite side of the Songhua River from the city) and the separate "Ice and Snow World" that operates each night. Ice and Snow World features illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of 2–3 feet thick crystal clear ice directly taken from Songhua River which passes through the city. Winter activities in the festival include Yabuli Alpine Skiing, winter-swimming in Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden, which was first held in 1963.[38] Snow carving and ice and snow recreations are world famous.

The "Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival" is one of the four largest ice and snow festivals in the world, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway's Ski Festival.

Every November, the city of Harbin sends teams of ice artisans to the United States to promote their unique art form. It takes more than 100 artisans to create ICE!, the annual display of indoor Christmas-themed ice carvings in National Harbor, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Kissimmee, Florida; and Grapevine, Texas.

The Music City

Being considered the fashion capital of China in the 1920s, Harbin had the earliest access to European classical music in China. Founded in 1908, the Harbin Symphony Orchestra was China's oldest symphony orchestra. Harbin No.1 Music School was also the first music school in China, which was founded in 1928. Nearly 100 famous musicians have studied at the school since its founding, said Liu Yantao, deputy chief of Harbin Cultural, Press and Publication Bureau (HCPPB).

In 2006, a 1,000-piano concert was held in Harbin's Central Street(中央大街).

UNESCO recognizes China's Harbin as "The Music City" as part of the Creative Cities Network in 2010.[7]

Harbin Summer Music Concert

Harbin Summer Music Concert ('Concert' for short) is a national concert festival, which is held on August 6 every two years for a period of 10~11 days. During the concert, multiple evenings, concert, race and activities are held. The artists come from all over the world.

The 'Harbin Summer Music Month', which was then renamed as 'Harbin Summer Music Concert', was held in August 1958. The first formal Concert was held on August 5, 1961 in Harbin Youth Palace, and kept on every year until 1966 when the Cultural Revolution started in China.[39] In 1979, the Concert was recovered and from 1994, it has been held every two years. In 2008, the 29th Harbin Summer Music Concert was held on August 6.


The Heilongjiang Television and Harbin Economy Radio both serve as the media outlets of this region.

In 1929 the Deutsch-Mandschurische Nachrichten, a German language daily newspaper, opened in Harbin. The editor of the newspaper was an engineer, not a professional journalist. Hartmut Walravens, author of "German Influence on the Press in China," said that "While there was a potential clientele in Harbin owing to many people from Russia and the Baltic states who understood and read German, the paper offered little to interest a wider circle of readers" and that "the main asset of the paper were the advertisements while the news section was very poor."[40] In 1930 the newspaper moved to Tianjin and changed its name to the Deutsch-Chinesische Nachrichten.[40]


The architecture style of Harbin shows a unique combination of oriental and European architecture styles. The city is well known for its unique, Russian and other European-influenced architecture. The architecture in Harbin brings the city the name of "Oriental Moscow" and "Oriental Paris".[20]

Zhongyang Street (Central Street, also known, using the Russian word for Chinese, as Kitaiskaya 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. First built in 1898, The 1.4-kilometer long street is a veritable museum of European architectural styles: Baroque and Byzantine façades, little Russian bakeries and French fashion houses, as well as non European architectural styles: American eateries, and Japanese restaurants.[41]

The Russian Orthodox church, Saint Sophia Cathedral, is also located in this central district of Daoli. St. Sophia took nine years to build and was completed in 1932. The 53.35-meter-high Church, which covers an area of 721 square meters, is a typical representative of the Byzantine architecture.[42] It has now been made into a museum as a showcase of the diverse architecture of Harbin.

Many citizens believe that the Orthodox church damaged the local feng shui, so they donated money to build a Chinese monastery in 1921, the Ji Le Temple. There were more than 15 Russian Orthodox churches and two cemeteries in Harbin until 1949. Mao's Communist Revolution, and the subsequent Cultural Revolution, saw many of them destroyed. Now, about 10 churches remain, while services are held only in the Church of the Intercession in Harbin.


Harbin has produced many world-class winter sports champions, including short track star and six-time Olympic medalist Wang Meng, 2006 pairs figure skating silver medalists Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao[43] and 2010 Vancouver Olympics figure skating gold medalists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo.

It has an indoor speed skating arena, Heilongjiang Indoor Rink, as one of four in China.

It is a winter sport center for China. There are even plans to introduce bandy.[44]


The 1996 Asian Winter Games were held in Harbin, and the city also bid for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Alpine skiing events would have taken place in the Yabuli ski resort. In the frame of this campaign to assert its role on the world scene, Harbin was the host city of the 2009 Winter Universiade. Harbin planned to spend US$ 1.5 billion in construction and renovation of its sport infrastructure for this Universiade. Harbin also bid for the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics, but was passed over so still has its sights on the Olympics, perhaps in 2022.



Harbin is the second largest railway hub in Northeast China, only after Shenyang.[45] Harbin Railway-Bureau is the first Railway Bureau in People's Republic of China, of which the railway density is the highest in China. Five conventional rail lines radiate from Harbin to: Beijing (Jingha Line), Suifenhe (Binsui Line), Manzhouli (Binzhou Line), Beian (Binbei Line) and Lalin (Labin Line). In addition, Harbin has a high-speed rail line linking Dalian. In 2009, construction began on the new Harbin West Railway Station with 18 platforms, located on the southwestern outskirts of the city. In December 2012, the station was opened, as China unveiled its first high-speed rail running through regions with extremely low winter temperatures. with scheduled runs from Harbin to Dalian.[46] The weather-proof CRH380B bullet trains serving the line can accommodate temperatures from minus 40 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius above zero.[47]

The city's main railway stations are the Harbin Railway Station, which was first built in 1899 and expanded in 1989; the Harbin East Railway Station, which opened in 1934; and the Harbin West Railway Station, which was built into the city's high-speed railway station in 2012. As of 26 January 2013, Harbin Railway Station had 202 trains arriving daily, Harbin West had 70 trains and Harbin East had 60.[45]

Direct passenger train service is available from Harbin Railway Station to large cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Jinan, Nanjing and many other major cities in China.[48] According to 2011 statistics, Harbin Railway Station's person flow volume has reached 27,898,500 person-time, ranking fifth in China after Beijing West, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou and Chengdu.


As an important regional hub in Northeast China, Harbin has an advanced system of highways. Food and other products are shipped on these roads.

There are several important highways which pass through or terminate in Harbin, including the Beijing-Harbin, the Heihe-Dalian, the Harbin–Tongjiang, Changchun-Harbin, and the Manzhouli–Suifenhe highways.

A part of the newly inaugurated 15-km long Yangmingtan Bridge spanning the Songhua River collapsed on 24 August 2012, killing three.[49]

  • G1 Beijing-Harbin Expressway
  • G10 Suifenhe-Manzhouli Expressway
  • G1011 Harbin-Tongjiang Expressway, a spur of G10 that extends west to Tongjiang, former part of China National Highway 010
  • G1111 Hegang-Harbin Expressway, a spur of G11 Hegang-Dalian Expressway
  • G1211 Jilin-Heihe Expressway, a spur of G12 Hunchun-Ulanhot Expressway that extends north to Heihe


Harbin Taiping International Airport, which is 35 kilometres (22 miles) away from the urban area of Harbin, is the second largest international airport in Northeast China. It is the largest northernmost airport of China and its terminal building (along with Shenyang-Taoxian Airport) is currently one of the largest in northeastern China. The technical level of flight district is 4E, which allows all kinds of large and medium civil aircraft. There are flights to over thirty large cities including Beijing, Tianjing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Qingdao, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Dalian, Xi'an and Hong Kong.[50] In addition there are also scheduled international flights between Harbin and Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea.[45]


Construction of Harbin Subway started on 5 December 2006. The total investment for the first phase is RMB5.89 billion. Twenty stations will be set on this 17.73 km (11.02 mi) long line starting from Harbin East Railway Station to the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University in the west of the city. A subway depot, a command center and two transformer substations will be built along the line. Most of the subway's route follows the air defence evacuation tunnel left from the "7381" Project which started in 1973 and ended in 1979. The 7381 project was intended to protect Harbin from the former Soviet Union's possible invasion or nuclear attack.

Picture Reference: "7381" Project, a Civil Defense System in Harbin Harbin Subway Map, Line 1

Ports and waterways

There are more than 1,900 rivers in Heilongjiang, including the Songhua River, Heilong River and Wusuli River, creating a convenient system of waterway transportation. Harbin harbor is one of eight inland ports in China and the largest of its type in Northeast China. Available from mid-April until the beginning of November, passenger ships sail from Harbin up the Songhua River to Qiqihar, or downstream to Jiamusi, Tongjiang, and Khabarovsk in Russia.[51]


As Harbin serves as an important military industrial base after PRC's foundation, it is home to several key universities and colleges in China, including Harbin Institute of Technology and Harbin Engineering University (former department of Shipbuilding Engineering of Harbin Military Academy of Engineering). Soviet experts played an important role in plenty of education projects in this period. However, due to the possible war with the Soviet Union, several colleges were moved southwards to Changsha, Chongqing and several other southern cities in China in the 1960s. Some of these colleges were removed to Harbin in the 1970s. These universities mainly focus on the science and technology service of national defense and aerospace industry.[52]

International relations

In 2009 Harbin opened an International Sister Cities museum. It has 1,048 exhibits in 28 rooms, with a total area of 1,800 square metres (19,375 square feet).[53]

Twin towns and sister cities

Harbin is twinned with:


Partnerships and Cooperations

Other forms of partnership and city friendship similar to the twin city programmes exist:

See also

  • Harbin Ferris Wheel
  • List of cities in the People's Republic of China by population
  • List of current and former capitals of subnational entities of China
  • 2013 Harbin smog


  • Thomas Lahusen. Harbin and Manchuria: Place, Space, and Identity. November 15, 2001. ISBN 0-8223-6475-1.
  • Walravens, Hartmut. "German Influence on the Press in China." - In: Newspapers in International Librarianship: Papers Presented by the Newspaper Section at IFLA General Conferences. Walter de Gruyter, January 1, 2003. ISBN 3110962799, 9783110962796.
    • Queens Library - This version does not include the footnotes visible in the Walter de Gruyter version
    • Also available in Walravens, Hartmut and Edmund King. Newspapers in international librarianship: papers presented by the newspapers section at IFLA General Conferences. K.G. Saur, 2003. ISBN 3598218370, 9783598218378.

Further reading

  • Meyer, Mike, "Manchuria Under Ice", Departures Magazine, Nov/Dec 2006, 292–297.
  • Nikos Kavvadias, a popular Greek poet born in Harbin by Greek parents from Kefalonia, Greece
  • Jan, Michel, "Cruelle est la terre des frontières", Payot, Paris, 2006 (in French).

External links

  • Harbin Government website
  • Harbin Ice Festival website

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