The Railroad Raids


                                   CER Railroad:                                           Dower, J. W. (n.d.). MIT Visualizing Cultures [Map] Retrieved February 24, 2017, from

The Sino-Russian Crisis revolves around the rights to the Northern Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) and sovereignty to the land. The Koumintang government argued that Soviets were unfairly using the railroads to support the demolition of the Chinese government and not respecting the declarations of former agreements (Sino-Russian Crisis, n.d.). The Soviets, on the other hand, use power to sway the crisis in their favor and argue that the Chinese are held under former agreements.


The Kuomintang government sought to gain more power by becoming a more influential player in Manchuria. This, of course, made Soviets very nervous as they held a very powerful presence in Manchuria from the Chinese Eastern Railroad (CER) and believed their sovereignty to the railroad was held tightly in signed treaties. One of these treaties was “the secret Russian-Chinese treaty alliance on May 22, 1896, which was directed against Japan, China approved construction of a railroad (the CER) from the Russian border across Manchuria to Vladivostok” (Pike, 2011). The inability to agree on sovereign rights would lead to an explosion of violence between the two groups.



Soldiers with Captured Kuomintang banners: (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2009, from

The raids began on May 27, 1929 when the Chinese began to attack several areas on the railways. The raids were mostly fueled by the discovery of the transportation of communist propaganda that was being used to attempt an overthrow of the Chinese government. Many soviets were arrested in the raids and sensitive documents were confiscated. In some of the confiscated documents there were “concrete evidence that a well-planned plot was under way to overthrow the Chinese National Government by violent means and conduct a nation-wide campaign of Communist propaganda” (Sino-Russian Crisis, n.d.). This discovery served as more fuel to the fire. The violent raids continued and by July China had gained control over the CER to the Soviets dislike. In response, the Red Army invaded northern Manchuria and had reinstated control over the area by November. Several strongly worded letters were written back and forth between the two noting grievances and making conflicting demands. These notes can be found here:


Finally, “the Kellogg-Briand Treaty permitted the peaceful settlement of a dispute in the Sino-Soviet conflict over the Manchurian railway line, since both China and the Soviet Union were signatories of the Pact of Paris of 1928” (Pike, 2011). The conflict was settled in December, 1929 when the railroad was declared a shared industry between the two. Then “In 1933 the Soviet government initiated discussions with the Japanese for the sale of the no-longer profitable CER to the puppet state of Manchukuo,” (Siegelbaum, n.d.) which was officially signed in 1935.

This post received the Comrade’s Corner award



Pike, J. (2011, 5 8). GlobalSecurity.Org. Retrieved 2 24, 2017, from Sino-Soviet War-1929:

Siegelbaum, L. (n.d.). Seventeen Moments in Soviet History . Retrieved 2 24, 2017, from Chinese Railway Incident :

Sino-Russian Crisis. (n.d.). Retrieved 2 24, 2017, from 17 Moments :

10 thoughts on “The Railroad Raids

  1. I was aware that Russia and China have had many confrontations in the past (it’s basically inevitable when you have two large powers sharing so much border), but I hadn’t heard of this one before. Railroads really do keep popping up in important events throughout the century. I wonder if Russian efforts like this one to incite a communist revolution in China contributed to their actual communist revolution. Good job!


  2. This is a really cool article! The events sound like they should be made into a movie! I did not know how much influence the Russians had in China, and it’s really interesting to read about it.


  3. This post was great to see how politics outside of the country played out. your post made me wonder if any of these historical interactions have any lingering effects in todays interactions.


  4. Very unique topic selection. The second image just pops right at you so that certainly caught my attention. This isn’t the first time Russia and China are linked together in their history so this was a very good read especially focused on the railroads which were a vital transport medium.


  5. I like that you focused on Russia’s foreign policy in the middle of our discussions on Russian society. It would be interesting to hear more about how these events affected domestic politics in Russia and how they play into later Russian history!


  6. It is interesting to see how other states reacted to the new Soviet government. I wonder how this event changed Russian and Chinese relations, especially after the discovery of the communist take over plot. This must have had some impact on the communist groups within China and how they would come to power in the coming decades.


  7. I think it’s interesting that railroads are just as important in this time as they were in the beginning of Russia’s transformation from imperialism to this new government. They were a point of interest during industrialization, they were important during the food shortages, and are now a focal point in Russia’s attempt at expansion. It is really interesting to see how transportation is such a vital component in any state.


  8. That photograph is really intriguing! Why did you decide to write about this? It offers an interesting counterpoint to the drama of collectivization and industrialization during the first five year plan!


  9. I appreciate that you focused on events occurring in the East. Instead of the inward looking policies of the cultural revolution, the raids show a glimpse of foreign policy at the time, while also highlighting Russian propaganda’s impact in China. Nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sam!

      I agree with Drew in the sense that it’s nice to read about Russia in the East. However, I’d also like to add that I think it is really interesting and cool to note that a form of transportation (the railroads) are what initiated the conflict. I also wonder what would have happened if the documents the Soviets had, that gave evidence to a potential over throw of the Chinese National Government, were never confiscated?


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