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Beyond the Steppe FrontierA History of the Sino-Russian Border$
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Sören Urbansky

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691181684

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691181684.001.0001

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Railroads, Germs, and Gold

Railroads, Germs, and Gold

(p.39) 2 Railroads, Germs, and Gold
Beyond the Steppe Frontier

Sören Urbansky

Princeton University Press

This chapter covers the introduction of more assertive policies to govern the international border at the turn of the twentieth century that were replacing long-pursued laissez-faire practices. It examines the framing of local disputes over territorial boundaries in national terms as well as the reorganization of customs and sanitary borders as part of a general evolution toward a territorial boundary. In particular, the chapter takes a look at how the introduction of railroads not only reorganized space but also cross-border relations and national development. After the construction of the Great Siberian Railroad had begun in 1891, Russia made use of railroad diplomacy to wield imperial influence in China's Northeast—at a time when a number of powers began to compete fiercely over influence in Northeast Asia. Russia's vehicle in this struggle for supremacy, the Chinese Eastern Railroad, was not simply a joint Sino-Russian railroad company that happened to operate on Chinese soil, but a colonial railroad, which in its Russian (and later Soviet) comanagement represented a typical expression of informal imperialism.

Keywords:   railroads, territorial boundaries, Great Siberian Railroad, Chinese Eastern Railroad, Sino-Russian railroad, imperialism, colonial railroads, customs, sanitary borders

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