Armenians in China (1880s-1950s)
Hundreds of Armenians journeyed eastward to China in the late 19th century in search of opportunity, anchoring themselves in major cities, as well as in Harbin, a town that rose to prominence with the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway.
Initially, Armenian railroad workers and merchants formed the core of the community in Harbin. Their numbers were small—no more than a few dozen. A larger number of Armenians lived in Manzhouli (Manchuli), which had risen to prominence in the early 20th century also thanks to railway projects. A group photograph of the Armenian community in Manzhouli (circa 1919) depicting around 150 men, women, and children, complete with the Armenian tricolor, stands testament to the size of the Armenian community in the city.
Despite conflicts, war, and foreign occupation that beset the history of China in the first half of the 20th century, they built a church (Harbin), community centers (Harbin and Shanghai), and established relief organizations, choirs, language schools, and women’s groups.