Manchuria (Manchu: ᠮᡝᠨᠵᡠ Manju; Chinese: 満洲 Mǎnzhōu; Japanese: マンシュウ Manshū), officially the State of Greater Manchuria (Manchu: ᠮᡝᠨᠵᡠ ᡤᡠᡵᡠᠨ Amba Manju Gurun; Chinese: 大満洲国 Dà Mǎnzhōuguó; Japanese: ダイマンシュウコク Dai Manshū-koku) is a sovereign state in East Asia. Manchuria is neighbored with the Soviet Union to the north, with Mongolia to the northwest, with China to the west, with Korea to the east, and with the East China Sea to the south. The capital and the largest city is Harbin with a population of 14,719,628 inhabitants.
The climate of Manchuria has extreme seasonal contrasts, ranging from humid, almost tropical heat in the summer to windy, dry, Arctic cold in the winter. This pattern occurs because the position of Manchuria on the boundary between the great Eurasian continental landmass and the huge Pacific Ocean causes complete monsoonal wind reversal.
In the summer, when the land heats faster than the ocean, low pressure forms over Asia and warm, moist south to southeasterly winds bring heavy, thundery rain, yielding annual rainfall ranging from 400 mm (16 in.), or less in the west, to over 1150 mm (45 in.) in the Changbai Mountains. Temperatures in the summer are very warm to hot, with July average maxima ranging from 31 °C (88 °F) in the south to 24 °C (75 °F) in the extreme north. Except in the far north near the Amur River, high humidity causes major discomfort at this time of year.
In the winter, however, the vast Siberian High causes very cold, north to northwesterly winds that bring temperatures as low as −5 °C (23 °F) in the extreme south and −30 °C (−22 °F) in the north where the zone of discontinuous permafrost reaches northern Heilongjiang. However, because the winds from Siberia are exceedingly dry, snow falls only on a few days every winter, and it is never heavy. This explains why corresponding latitudes of North America were fully glaciated during glacial periods of the Quaternary while Manchuria, though even colder, always remained too dry to form glaciers – a state of affairs enhanced by stronger westerly winds from the surface of the ice sheet in Europe
According to the 1946 Constitution of the State of Manchuria, Manchuria is a sovereign and independent republic based on the principle of National Democracy. The current structure of Manchurian government is derived from the structure of State of Manchuria that described for the first time in the 1933 Organic Law of the State of Manchuria.
The National Congress of Manchuria (国民代表大会 Guómín Dàibiǎo Dàhuì [cn]/ Kokumin Daihyō Taikai [jp]/ Irgen-i Fundesi Isan [mc]) serves as the highest state body of Manchuria. All members of the Congress are elected every four years by a series of indirect elections. The elections, however, are only participated by the parties that recognized as legal under Manchurian law, with the Solidarity Party of Manchuria as its leading party. To exercise daily legislative functions, the National Congress elects the members of the Legislative Council (立法院 Lìfǎyuàn [cn]/ Rippō-in [jp]/ Kemun-i Jurgan [mc]) from among its own composition for every two years.
The President of the State of Manchuria (総統 Zǒngtǒng [cn]/ Sōtō [jp]/ Beile [mc]) is elected by the National Congress every four years. The State President is the head of state and government of Manchuria and the nominal commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The State President is assisted by the Council of Ministers (閣僚会議 Géliáo Huìyì [cn]/ Kakuryō Kaigi [jp]/ Amban-i Hebe [mc]), which headed by the Prime Minister of Manchuria (総理 Zǒnglǐ [cn]/ Sōri [jp]/ Ejen [mc]) and consisted by the Ministers of State whose responsible for daily administration affairs.
The State Council of Manchuria (国務院 Guówùyuàn [cn]/ Kokumu-in [jp]/ Gurun-i Jurgan [mc]) is the advisory body for the National Congress and the National Government of Manchuria. The members of State Council are elected by the prefectural councils and by the corporate and special interest groups every six years. Its membership is reserved to the political parties and mass organizations that allied with or loyal to the ruling Solidarity Party.
The National Court of Manchuria (国民裁判所 Guómín Cáipànsuǒ [cn]/ Kokumin Saibansho [jp]/ Irgen-i Beiden Ba [mc]) is appointed by the President by the concern of National Congress and in charge of judicial matters and supervision and administration of lower courts. Every Manchurian nationals are the subjects of Manchurian law and under the authority of National Court of Manchuria. The National Procuratorate of Manchuria (国民検察所 Guómín Jiǎnchásuǒ [cn]/ Kokumin Kensatsusho [jp]/ Irgen-i Baican Ba [mc]) is charged with both the investigation and prosecution of crime at the national level and supervision of the lower-level procuratorates.
Qing Dynasty (1636–1911)
Starting in the 1580s, a Jianzhou Jurchen chieftain, Nurhaci (1558–1626), started to unify Jurchen tribes of the region. Over the next several decades, the Jurchens took control over most of Manchuria. In 1616, Nurhaci declared himself a khan and founded the Later Jin Dynasty. Nurhaci's son, Hong Taiji or Emperor Taizong, followed his late father's step by energetically expanded Jin rule into Outer Manchuria. Under Hong Taiji, the name "Manchu" was invented and given to the Jurchen people in 1635 as a new name for their ethnic group. A year later, Hong Taiji renamed his dynasty as the Qing Dynasty.
In 1644, the Manchus took Beijing, overthrowing the Ming Dynasty and soon established the Qing Dynasty rule (1644–1912) over all of China. The Manchus ruled all of China, but they treated their homeland of Manchuria to a special status and ruled it separately. The Han civilians were prevented to immigrate to Manchuria. Only Bannermen, including Chinese bannermen, were allowed to settle in Jilin and Heilongjiang. This effort, however, failed and the southern parts developed agricultural and social patterns similar to those of north China by the Han Chinese farmers.
While the Manchu ruling elite at the Qing imperial court in Beijing and posts of authority throughout China increasingly adopted Han culture, the Qing imperial government viewed the Manchu communities in Manchuria as a place where traditional Manchu virtues could be preserved, and as a vital reservoir of military manpower fully dedicated to the regime. However, this policy could not last forever. In the 1850s, large numbers of Manchu bannermen were sent to central China to fight the Taiping rebels. Those few who returned were demoralized and often exposed to opium addiction.
In 1858, a weakening Qing Empire was forced to cede Manchuria north of the Amur to Russian Empire under the Treaty of Aigun. In 1860, at the Treaty of Peking, the Russians managed to obtain a further large slice of Manchuria, east of the Ussuri River. As a result, Greater Manchuria was divided into a Russian half known as "Outer Manchuria", and a remaining Chinese half known as "Inner Manchuria". With the lost of Outer Manchuria, Qing Dynasty lost its access to the Sea of Japan. In the aftermath of the loss of Outer Manchuria, and with the imperial and provincial governments in deep financial trouble, parts of Manchuria became officially open to Chinese settlement. Within a few decades, the Manchus became a minority in their own homeland.
Despite already lost Outer Manchuria to the Russians, Inner Manchuria was also encroached under stronger Russian influence by the end of 19th century with the building of the Chinese Eastern Railway through Harbin to Vladivostok. Many people from outside of Inner Manchuria like the Koreans, Han Chinese, and Russians began to reside in Manchuria during those periods for its arable land. By 1921, Harbin, northern Manchuria's largest city, had a population of 300,000, including 100,000 Russians.
Republic of China (1911–1932)
By the early 20th century, mass civil disorder had begun in China, and it was growing continuously. Disillusioned by the failure of the Qing Dynasty’s attempt to reform and modernize the country, the Chinese revolutionary movement against the ruling dynasty emerged by the late 19th century. The Wuchang Uprising of October 10, 1911, led to the collapse of Manchu rule in China and the creation of a new central government, the Republic of China, in Nanjing with Sun Yat-sen as its provisional head.
Manchuria, along with Outer Mongolia and Tibet, was claimed by the newly-established Republic of China that viewed itself as the continuation of the Qing Dynasty as a part of its territory. Within the Republic of China, Manchuria was referred to as the "Three Northeastern Provinces" or simply "the Northeast" in official documents and divided into three provinces (Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning). However, China's rule of Manchuria was the only nominal since the Russian influences still remained and the northeastern provinces were ruled independently away from Beijing by the local warlords.
Around the time of World War I, Chang Tso-lin established himself as a powerful warlord with influence over most of Manchuria. Following the death of China's first president, Yuan Shih-kai, Chang became the military governor of Fengtian in 1916, and in 1918 he was appointed inspector general of the Three Eastern Provinces. In 1920, the Central Government acknowledged Chang's rule in Manchuria by appointing him to be Governor-General of the Three Eastern Provinces. From then on he controlled Manchuria as a virtually autonomous state within the Republic of China, isolated from the rest of the country by its geography and protected by Chang's personal troops, the Fengtian Army.
In 1917, Chang appointed Wang Yongjiang as the Director of the Bureau of Finance for the task of solving Fengtian Province's financial problems. Under Wang's supervision, the Manchurian economy grew tremendously, backed by the immigration of Chinese from China. In 1924, Wang amalgamated three regional banks into the Official Bank of the Three Eastern Provinces and became its general director. By this, he tried to create a development bank and at the same time to keep accurate records of military spending. With Wang's financial administration, Chang was inclined to keep his army under his control and to keep Manchuria free of foreign influence.
In June 1926, the Fengtian Army had managed to capture Beijing and Chang proclaimed himself as Grand Marshal of the Republic of China on June 18, 1927, thus led China's internationally recognized government. However, Yan Xishan's Shanxi Army successfully occupied Beijing in June 1928 and forced Chang to evacuate his government to Fengtian before finally accepted the jurisdiction of the Nationalist Government in December 1928. In return, Chang was appointed as the commander of the Northeast Army and recognized as the "vice-leader" of Central Government. By then on, Chang's ambition to expand his rule ceased and instead tried to focus his rule on Manchuria only.
In 1930, Japan launched a military campaign to remove the Fengtian Army's influence over the Korean Peninsula. The Fengtian Army was successfully ousted from Korea in July 1930. However, the Japanese Tamiikusa then continued its move into Manchuria. Alarmed by the Japanese military moves, Chang, as the vice-chairman of China, successfully convinced the Central Government in Nanjing to declare war with Japan. The declaration thus led to the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931–1932). However, almost bankrupted after the Central Plains War, China had no choice other than completely retreated its forces from Manchuria in 1932. Chang and his clique was ousted from Manchuria and retreated to retire in Nanjing.
Manchuria under Japanese rule (1932–1941)
In January 1932, the Interim Legislative Assembly (過渡立法議院 Guòdù Lìfǎ Yìyuàn) was created with Zhang Jinghui as its first speaker. Manchuria was reorganized into seven non-autonomous provinces (道 dào) and 37 autonomous prefectures (県 xiàn); the local election was announced to be held on August 3-8, 1932. At first, the occupation was only intended to realize an autonomous Manchuria within the Republic of China. However, the ethnic Japanese actively sought regional independence and founded the Manchurian Youth League (満州青年連盟 Manshū Seinen Remmei). The League was supported by a Manchuria lobby within the Japanese Nationalist Party led by Kasagi Yoshiaki, Tachibana Shiraki, and Ogami Suehiro.
In the preparation of upcoming elections, the pro-independence Solidarity Party of Manchuria (満洲団結党 Mǎnzhōu Tuánjiédǎng/Manju-i Hebengge Dang), also known as the Tuanchi'etang, was formed on September 24, 1932 by merging the Manchurian Youth League with other local separatist groups; Jin Bidong, a Manchu noble, became its first leader. On December 3-8, the first local elections were held in Manchuria albeit only participated by the Tuanch'ietang and independent candidates. The election was boycotted by both local Kuomintang and Communists. Elections results showed the Tuanchi'etang candidates won in almost every local councils. China, however, refused to accept the result and accused Japan has manipulated the polls.
In 1933, the Tamiikusa formed the Preparatory Committee for National Foundation (建国準備委員会 Jiànguó Zhǔnbèi Wěiyuánhuì), led by Zhao Xinbo and Tachibana Shiraki as the chair and the vice-chair, respectively. On May 26, 1933, the State of Manchuria was declared; Jin Bidong was elected the first State President. The National Congress of Manchuria was inaugurated on June 11, 1934 with Ding Jianxiu as its first speaker. On June 17, 1934, Jin appointed Zhang Jinghui as the first Prime Minister of Manchuria. However, Hoshino Naoki, Japan's Minister Plenopotentiary for Manchuria, in actuality had veto powers beyond the Manchurian government, putting country under a de facto control of Japan.
The League of Nations adopted the Lytton Report in 1934, declaring that Manchuria remained rightfully part of China, leading Japan to resign its membership. Despite of the League's approach, the state was diplomatically recognized by the Central American Federation, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia in 1934. In 1935, Manchuria and the Soviet Union entered formal trade relations, extending de facto Soviet recognition to the country. While China officially insisted on its sovereignty over Manchuria, the two states have established ties for trade, communications, and transportation in the 1930s.
In 1934, the First Four-Year Plan was implemented to industrialize the country and provide raw material and finished products for Japan. The industrial centers were established in the Mukden–Dalian area and later in Anshan, Fushun and other cities. By the 1930s, the Manchurian industrial system was among the most advanced in East Asia, making it an industrial powerhouse in the region. Manchuria's steel production also exceeded Japan's in the late 1930s. Electrification was another primary objective of the plan. Hydroelectric power provided the majority of electricity for the industry during the period in which the Japanese ambitiously invested in power plants on the Sungari and Yalu rivers.
In 1935, the government introduced ambitious land-buying programs and formed the Datong Agricultural Company. The state government owned about 35% of former traditional farming lands by the end of the First Plan in 1938. Local farmers were also forcibly relocated into agricultural cooperatives. In 1937, the Agricultural Research Bureau was founded to improve the crop and forestry production in Manchuria. The farmers in the agricultural cooperatives were provided by modern equipment and much better fertilizers by the government. The country has experienced a brief increase in agricultural production in 1939–1940, especially in sorghum and soy, as well as opium poppies.
Japan used Manchuria as a model state of its Pan-Asianist ideology. Manchuria was idealized in the state propaganda as a multi-cultural country in which each nationality within it can live together under the principle of ethnic autonomy. While Han Chinese made the majority of the country's population, Manchuria established several "autonomous communities" for the Mongols, Koreans and other minorities throughout the 1930s. In order to boost the legitimacy of the state, Japan also asked Aisin Gioro Pujie, an ethnic Manchu and the younger brother of former Qing Emperor Puyi, to join the government as the Minister of Youth in 1935 and became the leader of Tuanchi'etang in 1936.
In 1933, Japan planned to settle European Jewish emigres in Manchuria; this plan was known as the Fugu Plan. In 1936, the Japanese government allowed Jewish refugees to enter Manchuria without any visa or passport required. The influx of refugees from Central and Eastern Europe quickly flooded to Manchuria with the sponsorship of Freeland League led by Isaac Steinberg. By that time, a local Russian Jewish community had already existed, mostly in Harbin. As a result, a large Jewish ghetto emerged in Harbin and it became the largest Jewish community in East Asia prior to World War II. In 1939, a Jewish autonomous community was established in Harbin with Abraham Kaufman as its chairman.
In July 1937, the Japanese and Chinese forces engaged in a confused, sporadic skirmishing battle which later escalated into a full-scale one in the Southern Hebei Demilitarized Zone and fought near the Xingcheng city walls. However, the diplomatic efforts between the two sides prevented the conflict to be escalated. On September 22, 1938, Japan and China signed a non-aggression pact after pressures from Germany and the United Kingdom. Under the treaty provisions, China recognized Manchuria's territorial integrity and diminished its own de jure claim of sovereignty over the region. Li Shaogeng was appointed the first ambassador of Manchuria to China in 1939.