Treaty of Aigun – Signed 1858
Participating Nations: Russia, China
Agreements within the treaty:
The Amur River was set as the border between China and Russia, with the specific border running from the Argun, to the mouth of the Amur River, Russia controlling the east and China the west.
Trade by river was allowed for Russia and China in the three major rivers of the region, the Amur, Ussuri and Sungari, as well as any other type of naval vessel being allowed on these waterways.
Events Leading to the Treaty
The first treaty between China and Russia had been the Treaty of Nerchinsk, which was signed in the year 1688. This treaty had been signed when the Chinese Qing Dynasty was near its relative height and from a position of power for the Chinese. Over the next few centuries the situation would change as China lost its advantages completely to the European colonial powers. It was during this time, with numerous European nations, as well as the United States, making treaties with China, that Russia began to feel that its pre-Westphalian treaty with the Chinese, with its relatively fluid borders, could lead to land being stolen from them by another colonial power.
So it was that after the Russian and Japanese boundaries where established, by the statesman Putyatin, Russia again turned its attention to China, and this time to a weakened Chinese state. The original proposal, sent in 1858, by Putyatin was for the border to be fixed upon the Amur and Ussuri rivers, but was struck down unequivocally by the Chinese Emperor. The Amur commissioner, I-Shan, was instructed by the emperor to refuse any boundaries upon the Amur or Ussuri rivers.
In late April, the delegation headed by the Chihli viceroy, one Tan Ting-Hsian, was dispatched to negotiate with Putyatin. Finding that Putyatin still would only press the original demand, the delegation was withdrawn and Putyatin was told that he could only negotiate with I-Shan.
So it was that I-Shan dispatched a delegate to meet with the Russian officer of foreign affairs, Muraview. The 23rd and 24th of May would bring Muraview and I-Shan face to face and again the same proposal again was put forward and again it was denied by the Chinese. Muraview left the counsel in anger, whether feigned or not, and proceeded to have the Russian gunboats in the river shell the area over the night. I-Shan finally sent the order to negotiate with the Russians, and after several days of discussion, the Treaty of Aigun was penned, on May 28, 1858.