Harbin, or Haerhpin, China, the capital of Heilongjiang province. It lies along the Songhua River on the rich Manchurian Plain, about 650 miles (1,050 km) northeast of Beijing. Harbin is a major railway transportation hub and is the chief port on the Songhua. It is a food-processing center and an industrial city. Products include electric generating equipment, motors, machine tools, and tractors.
Harbin was only a small village until the building of the Chinese Eastern Railway (the original Far-Eastern route of Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway) late in the 1890's. Russian influence remained strong until shortly before Japan annexed Manchuria in 1932. Thereafter, Japan greatly aided the industrial development of the city, which was renamed Pinkiang. Japan's control ceased in 1945 at the end of World War II. In 1946 the Chinese Communists captured Harbin.