HISTORY OF THE RUSSIAN EMBASSY IN BEIJING:
Initially 45 Russian families moved to Beijing setting up a Company or Militray Division of Cossacks (White Russian) who resorted under the Military Leadership of the Chinese Emperor. This special arrangement led to high priviliges for the Russian Families, as their Military Functions and Titles were hereditary. Thus, the families were immediatly 'absorbed' into the 2nd Highest Rank of Nobility under the Chinese class system.
Initially, a small Buddhist Prayer House was converted for the use of the Russian in their Christian Orthodox religion and ceremonies. This Temple was renamed the Nikolskii Church. Later, when the importance of the Russian Embassy grew even further a Christian Cathedral was built in its place, and the North-Eastern section of the Imperial City of Beijing became the quarter where most Russian migrants made their homes.
The Russian Embassy was for most of its Time the location of the first Orthodox Christian Mission to China. The Roman Catholic Church had already established contact and in 1601 AD, Jesuit Father Mattheo Ricci was allowed residence in Beijing.
The Beiguan Russian Mission was gloriously described by a visiting Russian merchant to Tsar Peter the Great as located in the North-East corner of the City, near the Wall and surrounded by Russian homes.
The orthodox church has sent 21 Missions to China since the establishment of the Church, with each Mission staying on for about 10 years.
1689 and 1727 treaties promoted expansion of trade between China and Russia. More lands to the South of the original location were donated to the Mission by the Chinese State. These lands, known as Nanguan.
1812 Russia invaded by Napoleon's Armies at which Time the Russian Mission in Beijing lost all contact with the homeland. The missions members had to survive by taking up local jobs and relying on stipendia from the Chinese Government, a humiliating situation.
1860 AD end of the 2nd opium war brings the Legations Quarter to Beijing. An influx of Foreigners as well as International Trade and (capoitalist) development takes over the City and revives the Russian Legation and Mission. At this Time the soviet Mission became the official Russian Embassy in Beijing, located at the arrogantly renamed 'Soviet Embassy Compound Lane'.
As a result, the Russian Embassy became a huge target during the 1900 AD Boxer Uprising, at which Time the entire compound was ransacked. Its famous Library of Books was destroyed and Russian Priest had to seek protection from the Russian Armed Forces stationed nearby.
In 1949 AD The Soviet Union, having financed much of the early Chinese Revolution, founded the Chinese Communist Party (illegally) and having delivered arms throughout, was the first country in the world to recognize The Peoples Republic of China. Once again the Beiguan became the first and most important Embassy in China. To honor the great friendship between the two socialist nations the entire Beiguan Building was renovated and redesigned by a renowned Soviet Architect (Same as Moscow University). Bohmenian Crystallic Chandeliers in overpowering Russian style date from the 1950's.
There is a Chinese Building inside the complex known as the Red Mansion. It is modelled on an earlier building especially donated to the Russian Embassy by the Kangxi Emperor. Inside is a tall antique screen of ivory inlaid wood, the most reasured and oldest antique of the collection. Fountains, Canal, ponds.
A small Chinese Pavilion on the site where the first Buddhist Temple converted into the Nikolskii Church had once stood.
Other relic, the ancient cyrillic inscribed name board of the original Russian Mission unearthed on the Beiguan grounds during the 1990's.