Choose your codepage:
Russian Cities in China
Dalny: City with Open Face
It is hardly more than hundred years old, the age a little indecent in China. City with the name of Dalian did not exist before 1898.
There was Liaotung peninsula with naval base of Lüshun and some fishing villages. Tsing dynasty in 1898 had leased the peninsula together with the base to Russian Empire. Our enterprising ancestors have renamed Lüshun into Port Arthur and have made of it the most up-to-date base for Pacific fleet. And to the east of Port Arthur, in a place of Qingniwaqiao, which means "Bridge over black clay", they have laid a trading port that was given Russian name Dalny (Distant). Name was formed from that of Dalianwan Gulf, (Talienwan in historical literature). The hieroglyphs "Dalian" are read "Dairen" in Japanese; under this name the city is known in the West.
The Russian engineers had planned city for the further building, had begun to deepen harbour, to build moorings, breakwaters and shipyards. In 1903 connected both ports by railway to Harbin.
In a year the war began. Japanese took Dalny over, and in early 1905 Port Arthur as well. Under the Portsmouth peace treaty Russia has refused Liaotung Peninsula (and a half of Sakhalin) for the benefit of Japan.
Having received the control over Dalny, Japanese have continued the construction begun by Russians. For 40 years of possession they built plenty of various buildings. The blocks of two-storeyed small houses of German style (with outer wooden framework and a tile roof) are especially remarkable. Local inhabitants still call these houses Japanese.
The companies from the country of rising sun established many enterprises in the city, making it the important centre of shipbuilding and chemical industry; such a position of Dalian still remains.
The name of "Dairen" lost its actuality on August, 23, 1945. That day Soviet paratroopers and marines landed in Dalny and Port Arthur, and the Japanese garrisons surrendered not giving a word.
Up to 1955 there were many Soviet citizens here. I know some people who bear passports with "City of Dalny, Prople's Republic of China" as a birthplace. Those times are still remembered by elderly inhabitants of Dalian. Having found out that you are Russian, they brighten with eyes and try to say Russian words they knew once.
The biggest square in Dalian was given Stalin's name, and a high monument to soldiers the liberators was erected on it. All wreaths which were donated were stored inside a basement of the monument. I was told that in due time keepers of the monument did not allowed hongweibins to reach wreaths and to make acts of vandalism on them.
The truth, some time back the monument was dragged to Port Arthur, and the square was renamed People's. Time
This is the history.
I love Dalny. In 1986-87 years I studied at local institute of foreign languages. Ten months lived in this seaside city. I know it almost the same as my native one.
Dalny, first established on a southern coast of big bay, in due course has spread between hills. The centre is planned as the radial circuit. Some round squares (Sun Yat-sen Square, Friendship Square, Square of March, 8th, Square of Democracy, Port Square) from which beams of streets spread, in unexpected places crossed by lanes. In some places they still keep stone-paved roadways. Carefully maintained trams from the Japanese time run along these streets. Old buildings remain less year by year. For example, in autumn of 1999 I have not found an old orthodox cathedral which in the '80s still have been, though not used for the purpose. And on Qingniwaqiao (by the way, this is very small peace of land from "Churin's Firm" to "Swissôtel") there remained only Churin's department store - all the other is newly built.
Small but necessary comment: Churin's Firm before the revolution was the most famous trading house of the Russian Far East. The resourceful merchant has developed activity not only in Russia, but also in China. When bolsheviks came to power, he simply crossed the border and continued the business in Manchuria (previous name of Northeast China). After 1949 Churin's empire was nationalized, but not ruined. The name was kept, and in every big city of NE China there is a department store named "Churin's Firm" ("Qiulin Gongsi").
The present shape of Dalian is pleasant to me even more. The city looks appreciably richer. Everywhere erected skyscrapers whereas in 1987 there were only two: International Hotel and Furama Hotel (then under construction), both on Stalin Road. And now those two houses seem shorties in an environment of the neighbours built along the street renamed Renmin Lu (People's Road).
Low, five-seven storey, apartment houses considerably differ from the colleagues in other Chinese cities. Those as if are designed by low-end builder which never heard of existence of discipline named "architecture": the windows drawn on a ruler without a frame, flat roofs; they give out the external tile-lining of walls to be the greatest achievement of architectural idea; it, certainly, shines, while new, but rather soon becomes dirty. But in Dalian the houses please an eye: all with high roofs, and some even with mancardes.
Victory Square is transformed into a shopping complex. Three levels underground, plus two similar buildings on a surface: one is for buying, another for eating. Windows of several magnificent hotels look at this square.
Dalian's buildings have something distinguishing them from the Peking new buildings. Those look a little bit swangering - "Look what we are!", but Dalian's ones seem exclaiming: "We are having fun, join us!"
In the centre life boils. But going along the streets climbing on slopes of hills, one gets in other world. Sometimes in blocks of Japanese houses one may notice that there is nobody more in the street. For China it is almost impossible.
By the way, because of a steepness of streets very few inhabitants use bicycles. Because of it road traffic looks more regular than in other cities.
It is the sea what makes the recreation in Dalian truly comfortable. Clearly, it is better not to swim near the port. One should leave for one of two parks with quite good beaches at southern coast of peninsula. Fujiazhuang is closer and entering there costs only one yuan. But from Xinghai it is possible to see Port Arthur if there is luck of windy clear weather. The water allows to swim from June up to beginning of October.
The local cuisine makes the big accent on seafoods. Having dinner at restaurant, it is necessary to be Copperfield not to eat something from the sea. Fish, shrimps, trepangs and other species of seafood Dalian's people love and are able to cook.
There's no fatigue from Dalian at all. Though there are no famous sights, like Great Wall or Xihu Lake, but it is possible to walk hours in Dalian, and it does not bother.
Making the autumn voyage of 1999, I had an opportunity to compare cities which I visited. And so, Dalian is more similar to Hong Kong than to Peking. Probably, because very different components were poured in this vessel: streets were designed by Russian, built up by Japanese on a German sample, inhabited by Chinese, and now built up with skyscrapers of the most different styles on money from entire world. By the way, the cocktail has turned out remarkable.
Photo by author
© Dmitry Alemasov
All texts on the site composed by me except where otherwise stated. The text of another author will not appear without author's permission.
If the English text was translated by its author, the translator's name is not stated. Otherwise translator's name is stated separately.
The graphics: except for my logo, copyrights to all other logos belong to their respective owners. Photos copyrighted by me except for otherwise stated.