Albazinians in Beijing

China faced her northern neighbor in XVII c., when Russia expanded into East Siberia. First contacts were limited to border skirmishes; then, in 1685, a 15,000 strong Chinese force captured Russian fortress of Albazin on the Amur River. A number of Cossack families were taken prisoners and settled in Beijing: that was the origin of the Russian "Albazinian" minority in the Chinese capital. Fr. Maxim Leontiev went to Beijing with the Cossacks to become the first Orthodox priest on the ancient Chinese soil.

The Albazininas were assigned to the honorary warrior estate; they played an important role in the development of political and trade relations between Russia and China in XVII - XIX cc. Chinese authorities allowed them to build a chapel, and later, in 1695 -- when the Antimens, service books and church articles had been sent from Russia, -- a church was built, in spite of the widespread restrictions and persecutions of Christians. Remarkably, Metropolitan Ignatios wrote to Fr. Maxim in Beijing:

"Your captivity is not without benefit for the Chinese; for the light of the Christian Orthodox faith opens to them through your presence, and you gain much towards your own salvation."[2]

[2] V.P. Petrov. Rossijskaja Duhovnaja Missija v Kitae. Victor Kamkin, 1968, p.14