History of Jilin Province

In ancient times, Jilin was inhabited by the Xianbei, Sushen, the Mohe, Jurchens, and the Wùjí (勿吉). The Korean kingdoms of Buyeo, Goguryeo and Balhae ruled parts of this area.

The region then fell successively under the domination of the Xiongnu, Xianbei state, Khitan Liao Dynasty, the Jurchen Jin Dynasty, and the Mongol Yuan dynasty. During the Qing Dynasty, much of the area was under the control of the General of Jilin (Girin i Jiyanggiyūn), whose area of control extended to the Sea of Japan to encompass much of what is Russia’s Primorsky Krai today.

After the Primorsky Krai area was ceded to Russia in 1860, the Qing government began to open the area up to Han Chinese migrants, most of whom came from Shandong. By the beginning of the 20th century, Han Chinese had become the dominant ethnic group of the region. In 1932, the area was incorporated into Manchukuo, a puppet state set up by Japan. Changchun (then called Hsinking), capital of Jilin today, was made the capital of Manchukuo. After the defeat of Japan in 1945, the Soviet Army captured Jilin after Operation August Storm. The region, with the rest of northeastern China, was ceded to the Communists by the Soviet Union. Manchuria was the staging ground from which the communists eventually conquered the rest of China in the Chinese Civil War.

In 1949, Jilin province was smaller, encompassing only the environs of Changchun and Jilin City, and the capital was at Jilin City, while Changchun was a municipality independent from the province. In the 1950s, Jilin was expanded to its present borders. During the Cultural Revolution, Jilin was expanded again to include a part of Inner Mongolia, giving it a border with the independent state of Mongolia, though this was later reversed.

In recent times Jilin has, with the rest of heavy industry-based Northeast China, been facing economic difficulties with privatization. This prompted the central government to undertake a campaign called “Revitalize the Northeast”.