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2014 | 2 | 35-49

Article title

The Russian‑Chinese Trade in Kyakhta, Its Organisation and Commodity Structure, 1727–1861



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The article describes the organization and practice of the Russian‑Chinese trade exchange in Kyakhta and May‑ma‑chen in 1727–1861, state regimentation of the trade in Russia and China, the commodity structure of the Russian and Chinese export. Some fundamental problems of logistics that considerably impacted the character of the trade in Kyakhta are described, too. The Russian‑Chinese trade in Kyakhta was profitable for both sides. It yielded important goods for both sides and especially for Russia, which would have not been possible to get otherwise. The core of Russian export was created by hides, furs, pelts and from 1820s also woollen and cotton fabrics, the Chinese export consisted especially in tea, silk and cotton fabrics and rhubarb. Bilateral trade, however, hinted at a number of obstacles. It was considerable geographic distance to cover for both sides and especially on the Russian side, insufficient transport infrastructure. Another set of problems consisted in ineffective state regulation of all sorts on both sides. While bureaucratic restrictions on the Russian side was partially removed in the 1760s, when the trade was overtaken by the private capital, on the Chinese side ideologically conditioned regulation would be still carried over. The Chinese government was primarily concentrated on its military‑strategic targets in Amur Region, which was the trade in Kyakhta subjected to. It used the trade regulation as a tool to press the Russian authorities in other questions. Therefore the trade in Kyakhta had never reached the extent that could have had, and fell into rapid decline as soon as another alternative and cheaper way to the trade exchange between Russia and China appeared.


  • Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic — Department of Archives Administration and Records Management, Milady Horákové 133, 166 21 Praha 6, Czech Republic


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Publication order reference


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