What is it about?

The railway system carrying cross-border laborers and goods between Russia and northeastern China became infrastructure crucial to the spread of the Manchurian plague in 1910-1911. Contested governance over the prevention and control of the plague directly contributed to the formation of the modern anti-epidemic system in China, which emerged through a complex process of contradictions, compromises, and cooperation between China, Japan, and Russia. The central government, local authorities, traditional Chinese and Western medicine, officials, gentry, and doctors were also involved in the process.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that geopolitics not only plays an important role in political diplomacy, economic development, and military conflicts but also plays a crucial role in the prevention and control of regional infectious diseases.


Writing this article was a great pleasure as it has a co-author with whom I have had long-standing collaborations. This article also leads to continuous interdisciplinary communication on the intersection of migration studies, ethnic identity, history of the People's Republic of China, and the history of Southeast Asia.

Dr Yongming Chen
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

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This page is a summary of: The Contested Governance of Border Railways and the Plague of Northeast China, 1910– 11, September 2021, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/9781789384703_09.
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