The Treaty of Nerchinsk, the first treaty between Russia and China, was concluded 330 years ago

6 September 1689

August 27 (September 6), 1689 in Nerchinsk was concluded the first treaty between Russia and China, which established the relationship between the two states. On the Russian side the contract signed F. A. Golovin, I. O. Vlasov and S. Kornitsky, from the Qing government - Songgotu, Tung Gaughan and Lanthan.

Copies of the contract were written in Russian, Manchu, and Latin languages. The state seals and signatures of ambassadors were fixed on the documents.

The Treaty of Nerchinsk was concluded after the military conflict of the 1680's caused by the desire of the Manchu dynasty, which reigned in the middle of 17th century in Beijing, to win the acquired Russian Amur.
For the Russian side the negotiations were held in extremely difficult circumstances. Nerchinsk was besieged by Ch'ing troops numbering more than 15 thousand people, supported by artillery and river flotilla. They were opposed by about half thousand Russian Strelets and Cossacks without sufficient food and ammunition.

Under the agreement, Russia ceded the Qing Empire almost all lands along the upper Amur and dismantled Russian settlements there; Albazin Russian city was subject to "the ruin to the ground", while Ch'ing gave a "sworn obligation to"  not populate "Albazin land". It was a disguised restriction of China's sovereignty on the left bank of the Amur reached by the Russian side. Article 4 of the Treaty of Nerchinsk resolved problems related to the defectors and those who committed crimes in the territory of the opposite side. The Treaty authorized mutual trade between subjects of Russia and the Qing Empire. The procedure for resolution of border disputes was elaborated. The agreed boundary was the rivers Gorbitsa and Chernaya. The strip of land north of the Amur was recognized neutral.

However the Treaty of Nerchinsk had a number of inaccuracies and was an imperfect document from the point of view of the international law. The state border under the treaty was extremely uncertain (except for area along the Argun River) and defined only in general terms. Texts in Russian, Manchu, and Latin languages were not identical, the referred geographical landmarks - unclear. At the time of signing the contract the parties did not have any accurate map of the area demarcation, delimitation of the border was unsatisfactory, and its demarcation was not done at all. When signing a contract the parties did not exchange maps with the border line between the two countries drawn on them.

Later the terms of Nerchinsk Treaty were revised by the Treaty of Aigun (1858) and then by the Treaty of Beijing (1860).

Lit.: Вторжение маньчжуров в Приамурье и Нерчинский договор 1689 г. // Русско-китайские отношения в XVII в. М., 1972; Спорные вопросы пограничного размежевания между Россией и Китаем по Нерчинскому договору 1689 г. [Электронный ресурс] // Сибирская заимка. 1998-2019; Яковлева П. Т. Первый русско-китайский договор 1689 года. М., 1958.

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Russia — China: on the history of relations: [digital collection].