46°29′08″N 133°50′40″E / 46.48556°N 133.84444°E / 46.48556; 133.84444

Official nameHeilongjiang Zhenbaodao Wetland National Nature Reserve
Designated1 September 2011
Reference no.1978[1]
Zhenbao Island

Zhenbao Island (simplified Chinese: 珍宝岛; traditional Chinese: 珍寶島; pinyin: Zhēnbǎo dǎo; lit. 'Rare Treasure Island') or Damansky Island[2] (Russian: о́стров Дама́нский, romanizedostrov Damanskiy) is an island in Hulin,[3] Jixi, Heilongjiang Province, China, with an area of only 0.74 square kilometres (0.29 sq mi). It is on the Ussuri River on the border between Primorsky Krai, Russia, and Heilongjiang Province, China.

Prior to the 1991 Sino-Soviet Border Agreement, the island was disputed between China and the Soviet Union. It got its Russian name from the railway engineer Stanislav Damansky, who died there in an incident in 1888 while he was charting the future route for the Trans-Siberian railway.

Conflict between Soviet Union and China

Map of the region showing the island at center right (AMS, 1957)

Main article: Sino-Soviet border conflict § Battle of Zhenbao (Damansky) Island

The island was the subject of a territorial dispute between the Soviet Union and China. China (PRC) held that "in the absence of an explicit treaty provision, the central line of the main channel—the Thalweg principle—provided a legal basis for delimiting the boundary in the two rivers. On this basis, Beijing claimed that 600 of the rivers’ 700 islands—including Zhenbao Island on the Ussuri River, just 180 miles southwest of an important Soviet city, Khabarovsk—belonged to the P.R.C."[4] Battles were fought with a considerable loss of life during the Sino-Soviet border conflict in mid-1969.[5] The dispute over Zhenbao raised concerns that it could ignite World War III until an initial resolution of the conflict in November 1969.

In his memoir, US President Richard Nixon recounted a story that Premier Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lai) had told him about the border dispute: "Later on, when he had loosened up considerably, he told an amusing story that he said took place during a Sino-Soviet border flare-up in 1969. "We had a hot line between the Soviet Union and ourselves then," he said, "but it had already become cold because the Kremlin never used it. At the time of the Chen Pao [Zhenbao Island] border incident, however, Kosygin picked it up and called us. When our operator answered, he said, 'This is Premier Kosygin. I would like to speak to Chairman Mao.' The operator, completely on his own, said, 'You are a revisionist, and therefore I will not connect you.' So Kosygin said, 'Well, if you will not try to reach the Chairman, will you please connect me with Prime Minister Chou.' But the operator gave the same unauthorized reply and broke the connection.""[6]

On 19 May 1991, both sides came to an agreement that the island was part of the territory of China, and the Soviet troops withdrew.

A 2004 Russian documentary film, Damansky Island Year 1969. ("Остров Даманский. 1969 год"), was made about the 1969 Zhenbao incident.

See also


  1. ^ "Heilongjiang Zhenbaodao Wetland National Nature Reserve". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ Kissinger, Henry (2011). On China. New York: Penguin Press. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-59420-271-1. LCCN 2011009265. OCLC 1025648355.
  3. ^ Li Yan, ed. (2016-09-29). "Scenery of Zhenbao Island wetland in Heilongjiang(1/6)". China News Service. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016.
  4. ^ Gurton, Melvin; Byong-Moo Hwang (1980). China under Threat: The Politics of Strategy and Diplomacy. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 210. ISBN 0-8018-2397-8. LCCN 80-7990. OCLC 470966163.
  5. ^ Jacobs, Frank (February 21, 2012). "Manchurian Trivia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Archived from the original on July 29, 2022.
  6. ^ Nixon, Richard (1978). RN: the Memoirs of Richard Nixon. Grosset & Dunlap. p. 568. ISBN 0-448-14374-7. LCCN 77-87793. OCLC 760525066. OL 7561812M.