Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/I-shan

I-shan 奕山, d. 1878, official, was a member of the Imperial Clan. He was a great-great-grandson of Yin-t'i [禵 q.v.] who was imprisoned by his jealous brother, Emperor Shih-tsung (see under Yin-chên). Yin-t'i's eldest son, Hung-ch'un (see under Yin-t'i), was deprived of all ranks in 1735 and his descendants were assigned to the Bordered Blue Banner and not to the higher Bordered Yellow Banner. But the services of I-shan brought this branch of the family to prominence again. As a fourth grade Imperial Clansman, I-shan was perhaps not satisfied with his lot and sought promotion through service as a military official. He began in the Imperial Bodyguard and in that capacity participated for a year (1826) in the campaign in Kashgar (see under Ch'ang-ling). After several promotions he became (1832) commandant of the forces in Ili, and a year later in Tarbagatai. In 1835 he was appointed assistant military governor at Ili; two years later, acting military governor; and in 1838 full military governor. In 1840 he took charge of colonization work in the Ili region in the course of which he established 1,000 Muslim families on 164,000 mu (about 27,300 acres) of land. In the autumn of the same year he became a chamberlain of the Imperial Bodyguard and early in the following year was made an adjutant general.

At this time the Anglo-Chinese War was in its second year and in January 1841 the British took two forts below Canton. When the report of Ch'i-shan [q. v.], the High Commissioner at Canton, reached Peking Emperor Hsüan-tsung was angered and ordered that troops from several provinces be concentrated at Canton. I-shan, invested with the title of Ching-ni chiang-chün 靖逆將軍, was made commander of these troops; and Yang Fang [q. v.] and Lung-wên 隆文 (T. 存質, H. 雲章, chin-shih of 1808, d. 1841, posthumous name 端毅) were named assistant commanders. Before they arrived Ch'i-shan had been cashiered and arrested for agreeing to the Convention of Chuenpi (January 20) which ceded the island of Hong Kong to England. Late in February 1841 hostilities were resumed and the Bogue forts fell to the British (February 26) who dominated the waterways leading to Canton. Yang Fang, the first of the three commanders to arrive at Canton (March 5), could do nothing except strengthen the defenses of the city. He reopened negotiations with Elliot (see under Lin Tsê-hsü), and fighting temporarily ceased. However, with the arrival of I-shan and Lung-wên on April 14, military preparations were hastened and further hostilities became unavoidable. On May 21 fighting again broke out and the British supremacy in arms once more shattered the weak Chinese defenses. Six days later a truce was signed with five articles, by which I-shan and his subordinates consented to withdraw the Chinese troops to a distance of sixty miles from Canton and to pay to England an indemnity of six million silver dollars. As the British forces withdrew from the neighborhood of Canton I-shan made false reports to the emperor announcing that the payment was to settle former debts of the Cantonese merchants to the British merchants and that the British had sued for peace and had asked to resume trade. Emperor Hsüan-tsung probably regarded the Sino-British conflict as already settled and ordered the withdrawal of troops on the coasts of Fukien, Chekiang and other provinces (see under Yü-ch'ien). But soon the British under Sir Henry Pottinger (see under Ch'i-ying) carried the war northward to Fukien, Chekiang and Kiangsu. In June 1842 I-shan was deprived of his ranks (but was ordered to continue his duties) on the charge of failing to prosecute the soldiers at the Bogue forts who had retreated during an engagement. After the Treaty of Nanking was signed (see under Ch'i-ying), I-shan was ordered to return to Peking, and I-li-pu [q. v.] was sent to take his place. In the meantime I-shan, I-ching [q. v.] and other generals were tried for failure to defeat the British. I-shan was sentenced to imprisonment awaiting execution and on arrival at Peking, early in 1843, was thrown into the prison of the Imperial Clan Court.

Nevertheless, I-shan was released on September 30, 1843. Two months later he was again made an Imperial Bodyguard and was sent to Ho-t'ien as imperial agent. In 1845 he was raised to assistant military-governor of Ili. Two years later he was transferred to Yarkand and given a second class Chên-kuo chiang-chün 鎮國將軍 (Noble of the Imperial Lineage of the Ninth Rank) while taking part in the pacification of the Buruts in Kashgar. In 1848 he was transferred back to Ili where in 1850 he became military governor. About this time the Russian government made representations to the Imperial government in Peking asking to be permitted to trade at Ili, Kashgar and Tarbagatai, in addition to Kiakhta, the only town hitherto open to Russian trade. The Chinese consented to the opening of Ili and Tarbagatai but refused to allow trading at Kashgar. The Treaty of Kuldja, signed at this time, was negotiated by I-shan and Pu-yen-t'ai 布彥泰 (d. 1880), assistant military-governor of Ili, and bore the signature of Kovalevsky, the Russian envoy.

Summoned back to the capital, I-shan was appointed a senior assistant chamberlain of the Imperial Bodyguard (1854) and an adjutant general (1855). Early in 1856 he was appointed military-governor of Heilungkiang at which post he encountered the Russian eastward expansion and occupation of the Amur region under the leadership of Nikolai Nikolaivitch Muraviev (c. 1809–1881), later Count Amurski. According to the Treaty of Nerchinsk of 1689 (see under Songgotu), the Argun River and the Hsing-an Mountains formed the boundary between Siberia and Manchuria. After the Treaty of Kiakhta of 1727 (see under Tulišen) which delimited the boundary between Siberia and Outer Mongolia, no dispute about boundaries arose. Although the Russian eastward expansion had taken place under the leadership of such personages as Yermak who took the land of Sibir in 1581, and Khabarov who erected (1652) a fort on the present site of Khabarovsk which still bears the name of its discoverer, the Russian government made no serious effort to extend its influence and had no well constructed plans to consolidate its gains. But after her defeat in the Crimean War (1854–56) Russia wished to be compensated, and the occupation of the region north of the Amur River served that purpose. Muraviev was the main promoter and undertaker of this expansion and became, in September 1847, governor-general of Eastern Siberia. Under him the lower Amur region was explored and rapidly settled with colonists. By 1853 he had opened up harbors on the Gulf of Tartary, established posts in Sakhalin Island, and founded Nikolaevsk at the mouth of the Amur River. During the Crimean War Russia used–despite protests from China–the Amur River as the route of transport in her occupation of eastern Siberia. When later she made diplomatic approaches to China her chief arguments were the long friendship between the two nations and the importance of a mutual stand against England.

At this time China was harassed by the British and French allies and by the wide-spread Taiping Rebellion. The central government at Peking was financially straitened and inadequately informed. To Emperor Wên-tsung and his officials the great northeastern territory was just a stretch of wasteland where only a few pearls and some fur were produced. China's inadequate knowledge of the geography of this region greatly handicapped her defense against Russian encroachments. I-shan was not qualified to carry on negotiations over little known boundaries with so well informed an adventurer as Muraviev. The climax of the negotiations came when I-shan and Muraviev met at Aigun. The first conference took place on May 11, 1858. Muravaev proposed to make the Amur River the boundary between the two empires but I-shan maintained that the boundary set up by the Treaty of Nerchinsk should continue to be effective. After five days of fruitless meetings Muraviev, on the evening of the fifth day, tried a demonstration of force by setting off cannon on the left bank of the river. I-shan, frightened into submission, signed the Treaty of Aigun the following day (May 16, 1858). This treaty, consisting of three articles, states that the territory on the left (north) bank of the Amur River should be recognized as Russian, that on the right bank as far as the Ussuri River, as Chinese, and the territory between the Ussuri River and the sea should be held in common by the two countries until its demarcation should be decided at some future date. Navigation of the Amur, Sungari and Ussuri Rivers should be open only to Russian and Chinese vessels, and trade across the border should be permitted—though no regulations for such trade were prescribed.

A few days later—May 20, 1858—the Taku forts near Tientsin were taken by the Anglo-French allied forces. On June 23, 1858 Euphemius Poutiatine 普提雅廷, representing Russia, together with the representatives of other Western powers, concluded in Tientsin a treaty with twelve articles concerning trade (see under Kuei-liang). Thus within a short time Russia negotiated with China treaties regulating both territory and trade which reacted greatly to Russia's advantage, but which were much resented in Peking. For the Treaty of Aigun I-shan was denounced, particularly by Yin Chao-yung 殷兆鏞 (T. 序伯, H. 譜經, 1806–1883, chin-shih of 1840) who accused him of lightly handing over to Russia a vast and valuable territory. In 1859 I-shan was ordered back to Peking and was deprived of his rank of adjutant general. On November 14, 1860 another treaty between Russia and China was concluded at Peking—this time with Nikolai Pavlovitch Ignatieff 伊格那提業幅 and Prince Kung (see under I-hsin) as negotiators. Added to the indignities of the Treaty of Aigun was the cession to Russia of the territory in the region of Primorskaya where Vladivostok was founded in the following year (1861).

Thereafter for more than fifteen years I-shan filled various comparatively unimportant posts in the capital, such as lieutenant-general of various Banners. His hereditary rank was raised in 1864 to a first class noble of the ninth rank. In the summer of 1874 he retired on the ground of illness and four years later (1878) he died, being past eighty years of age. He was canonized as Chuang-chien 莊簡.


[1/379/1a; 2/56/11a; I-hsin [q. v.], Ch'ou-pan i-wu shih-mo; 黑龍江志稿 Hei-lung-chiang chih kao (1932); Ho Wên-han 何文漢, 中俄外交史 Chung Ê wai-chiao shih (1935); Vladimir, Russia on the Pacific and the Siberian Railway (1899); South Manchurian Railway, 近代露支關係の研究, 沿黑龍地方之部 (1920).]

Tu Lien-chê