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Li-Lobanov Treaty


The Li-Lobanov Treaty or the Sino-Russian Secret Treaty (中俄密约) was a treaty signed on June 3, 1896 in Moscow by foreign minister Alexey Lobanov-Rostovsky and finance minister Sergey Witte on behalf of the Russian Empire and viceroy Li Hongzhang on behalf of China. The two powers concluded a defensive alliance against Japan, pledging mutual support in case of a Japanese attack.

The treaty allowed Russia to increase its presence in Northeast China as Russian personnel and police received extraterritorial jurisdiction. It allowed the use of Chinese ports by Russia in the case of war and China's consent to the construction of the China Eastern Railway (a part of the Trans-Siberian Railway). The railway was nominally a joint project, but was in reality completely financed and controlled by Russia.

China was also not allowed to interfere with Russian troop movements or munitions and also had to grant Russia decreased tariff rates. Russia's other major demand was delivered in true gunboat diplomacy fashion by a naval fleet in December 1897. China was forced to lease the southern tip of the Liaotung Peninsula to Russia and allow a railway line to be built connecting it to the main Russian line.

Construction of the Russian railroads in China increased the anti-foreign anger that came to a head in the Boxer rebellion of 1900. Chinese historians view the period between the Li-Lobanov Treaty and the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 as the time of Russia's domination of the Chinese Northeast region, in political and economical terms.

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