Tokhtogo’s Mission Impossible

Russia, China, and the Quasi-independence of Hulunbeir

in Inner Asia
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By the turn of the twentieth century, the Qing court sought to incorporate and homogenise its imperial periphery. This shift towards firmer control of its Mongolian borderlands with neighbouring Russia elicited anti-imperial sentiments among the indigenous population. Complexities arose when the Russian government sought to utilise native separationist movements for the promotion of its own political ends: more precisely, to create a loyal autochthonous buffer at the poorly defended border. The article examines resistance by the nomadic borderlanders against the sovereignty claims of the state, arguing that the rejection of the state provoked a surge of both local and national identity formation along the border. It analyses nomads’ reactions to the Manchu court’s imperial policies, Russian exploitation of indigenous dissatisfaction, and the question of whether the native borderlanders, in the early twentieth century, gained independence or were subjugated by different means.

Tokhtogo’s Mission Impossible

Russia, China, and the Quasi-independence of Hulunbeir

in Inner Asia



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In June 1908the Manchu court reformed the administrative structure of Hulunbeir in order to integrate it within the Chinese provincial system (sheng). The office of the Imperial Resident (amban) who also held the military rank of banner vice commander-in-chief of the Hulunbeir garrison ( fudutong) was abolished. A new Han-Chinese official of the rank of daotai delegated by the Governor of Helongjiang province to manage prefectural administration in Hulunbeir took on his duties as the Head of Hulunbeir. In addition to this there was a special administration for Chinese population within the provincial system represented by the daoyin.


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    Time-collapsed map of the Argun borderland, showing important settlements from the eighteenth century to the present.

    sören urbansky
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    Zorigt Baatar E. Tokhtogo (1863–1922).

    copyright: monsound and vision foundation, mongolia

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