This essay underlines the essential role of Russo-Chinese border trade in the creation of the multiethnic identity of Siberian outposts such as Nerchinsk and Kiakhta. In the seventeenth/early eighteenth century-under Tsar Peter the Great-Siberia became a meeting place for Russian, Central Asian and Chinese cultures. Furthermore, the Russo-Chinese trade was an important parameter of European economic expansion. Europe and the Far East met territorially only along the Eurasian frontier between Siberia and the Manchu Empire. Profitable trade, however, experienced a severe decline in the 1720s. Peter I's rigid fiscal policy choked off private initiative and prevented Siberia from becoming a major commercial entrepot between the West and East.