Place Names

Port Arthur, China

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Lüshunkou District
Port Arthur
Lüshun City
Lüshun Port
—  District  —

The city and port of Lüshun, formerly Port Arthur, as seen from the heights outside the city - (November 2004)

Location of the district within Dalian City
Lüshunkou District is located in Liaoning

LüshunkouLocation in Liaoning
38°48′45″N 121°14′30″E / 
38.81250°N 121.24167°E /
38.81250; 121.24167
38°48′45″N 121°14′30″E / 
38.81250°N 121.24167°E /
38.81250; 121.24167
Country People's Republic of China
Province Liaoning
Sub-provincial city Dalian
 • Total 512.15 km (197.74 sq mi)
 • Land 506 km (195 sq mi)
Population (2001)
 • Total 210,000
 • Density Bad rounding here410/km (Bad rounding here1,100/sq mi)
District seat 24 Huanghe Road (黄河路24号)

Lüshunkou it was formerly known as both Port Arthur and Ryojun.

Lüshunkou is located at the extreme southern tip of the Liaodong Peninsula. It has an excellent natural harbour, the possession and control of which became a casus belli of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). Japanese and then Soviet administration would continue until 1953.

 During the first decade of that period, it was world famous and was more significant than the other port on the peninsula, Dalian proper.

In Western diplomatic, news, and historical writings, it was known as Port Arthur, and during the period when the Japanese controlled and administered the Liaodong (formerly Liaotung) Peninsula it was called Ryojun (旅順), the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters in the city's name.


Dalian and vicinities, Landsat 5 satellite image, 2010-08-03

Downtown Dalian is some 40 miles farther up the coast, sprawling around the narrowest neck of the Liaodong Peninsula, whereas Lüshun occupies its southern tip. (See Landsat Map below Zoomed – Lushun City surrounds the lake-like structure clearly visible near the peninsular tip—the lake-like feature is the inner natural harbour of the port, a very well-sheltered and fortifiable harbor to 19th century eyes.)

Clearly seen on the map (above right) are the Liaodong Peninsula and its relation to Korea, the Yellow Sea to its southeast, the Korea Bay to its due east, and the Bohai Sea (or Gulf) to its west. Beijing is almost directly (due west-northwest) across the Bo Hai Gulf from the port city.

Place Names

Earlier history

Surrounded by ocean on three sides, this strategic seaport was known as Port-Artur (Порт-Артур) under Russian administration and later Ryojun (旅順) under Japanese administration. Port Arthur took its name from a Royal Navy Lieutenant named William C. Arthur, but was known to the Chinese as Lüshun. In August 1860, during the Second Opium War, Arthur had towed his crippled frigate into the harbor at Lüshun (at that time an unfortified fishing village) for repairs. The Russians and other Western powers then adopted the British name. After World War II, the region found itself under Russian and finally Chinese rule. These and additional geo-historical name changes and recent history are delineated in the related article on Dalian.

As a focal point in history



In the late 1880s, the German company Krupp was contracted by the Chinese government to build a series of fortifications around Port Arthur. Reportedly, this was after local contractors had "made an extensive bungle of the job."

Port Arthur first came into international prominence during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). Following Japan's defeat of Chinese troops at Pyongyang in Korea in September 1894, the Japanese First and Second Armies converged on the Liaodong Peninsula by land and sea. Japanese war planners, ambitious for control of the Liaodong Peninsula and Port Arthur and also cognizant of that port's strategic position controlling the northern Yellow Sea routes and the passage to Tianjin, were determined to seize it.

Following only token resistance during the day and night of November 20–21, 1894, Japanese troops entered the city on the morning of November 21. Several Western newspaper correspondents present at the time related the widespread massacre of Chinese inhabitants of the city by the victorious Japanese troops, apparently in response to the murderous treatment the Chinese had shown Japanese prisoners of war at Pyongyang and elsewhere.

Foremost among the correspondents was James Creelman of the New York World. Though at least one American correspondent present completely contradicted Creelman's account, there is "little doubt" that the Japanese troops "indiscriminately killed" thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians, and the story of a Japanese massacre soon spread among the Western public, damaging Japan's public image and the movement in the United States to renegotiate the unequal treaties between that country and Japan. The event came to be known as the Port Arthur massacre.


A ukiyoe print of the night attack on Port Arthur by the Japanese Navy

An account of a US sailor who visited the port in the weeks prior to the attack commented that the Chinese soldiers were "ridiculous". They lacked any semblance of military bearing, their dress was unkempt and untidy, and they wandered about the place with little in the way of direction or smartness associated with professional soldiers. He stated that at the time, the garrison numbered approximately 20,000 soldiers, but from his estimation, it should have had between 30,000 and 40,000 men stationed there. He opined that the Japanese could have taken the port with one third of its force, but that against disciplined soldiers, the place should have been impenetrable.

Japan went on to occupy Port Arthur and to seize control of the whole Liaodong Peninsula as spoils of war. As part of the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki concluding the war, Japan was granted the Liaodong Peninsula but had to cede back the territory when threatened jointly with war by France, Germany and Russia in what is called the Triple Intervention of 1895. This was seen as a great humiliation in Japan for reasons discussed at length in the article Treaty of Shimonoseki.

Two years later, Russia coerced a lease of the Liaodong from China and gained railroad right-of-way to join the Liaodong Peninsula to the Chinese Eastern Railway with a line running from Port Arthur and nearby Dalny (Dalian) to the Chinese city of Harbin (see Kwantung Leased Territory), and systematically began to fortify the town and harbor at Port Arthur. This railway from Port Arthur to Harbin became a southern branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway (not to be confused with the South Manchurian Railway, the name of a company that undertook its management during the later Japanese period after 1905). All this was an additional goad to an already seething Japan. It was a hard lesson in international geopolitics Japan would not soon forget.

Ten years later Port Arthur again played a central role in war in the Far East. It is fair to say that at its heart, the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) was an extended battle for the possession of Port Arthur and the railway to it, the Southern Manchurian Railway. After the Boxer Rebellion (1900–1901) had been extinguished by an international coalition of troops, Russia refused to withdraw its reinforcements from Manchuria and instead began to fortify and garrison the entire route along the Southern Manchurian Railway. With this development, Japan proposed the two powers meet and discuss their respective roles in eastern Manchuria, as the area was considered a portion of their respective spheres of influence.

Talks were conducted between 1902 and 1904. While numerous proposals and agreement papers were generated between the two powers, Russia continued the de facto annexation of territory through fortification and garrison, if not de jure while employing stalling tactics in its negotiations. In the end, with over two years of intensive bilateral negotiations having gotten nowhere in clarifying each country's rights, prerogatives, and interests in inner Manchuria, Japan opted for war with Russia.

At the heart of conflict

Map of Port Arthur, 1912

The Battle of Port Arthur, the opening battle of the Russo-Japanese War, was fought in the heavily fortified harbor of the town of Port Arthur/Lüshun on February 9, 1904 when the Japanese attacked at night with torpedoes, followed by a brief daylight skirmish by major surface combatants. The port eventually fell January 2, 1905 after a long train of battles on land and sea during which the Japanese occupied the whole of the Korean Peninsula, split the Russian Army, devastated the Russian Fleet, cut off the source of supplies on the railway from Harbin, culminating in the bloody battle known as the Siege of Port Arthur (June–January; some sources place the siege start in late July, a technical difference due to definitions). By the end of July, the Japanese army had pushed down the Liaodong peninsula and was at the outer defenses of Port Arthur.

The fact that Japanese forces had closed to within artillery range of the harbor in early August led directly to the naval Battle of the Yellow Sea which solidified Japan's command of the sea, where her fleets continued to blockade the harbor. Virtually all the battles of the war until July 1904 were strategic battles for territorial gain or position leading to the investment and siege of the port city. The Russian town of Dalny (Dalien/Dalian) was undeveloped in this era prior to 1898 when the Russian Tsar Nicholas II of Russia founded the town of Dalny (sometimes Dalney). In 1902, the Russian Viceroy de-emphasized Dalny (building a palace and cultural edifices instead at Port Arthur), except as a commercial port while continuing the development of manufacturing.

After WWII

Soviet sailors raise the USSR's naval ensign over the city in 1945 when they reoccupied Liaodong and other parts of Inner Manchuria

The Japanese-controlled Ryojun City had 40 districts. The Communist Lüshun City was established on November 25, 1945 to replace Ryojun. The city was a subdivision of a larger Lüda City and contained 40 villages in 3 districts: Dazhong (大众区), Wenhua (文化区), and Guangming (光明). In January 1946, Wenhua was merged into Dazhong, and the 40 villages were reduced to 23 communes (坊). In January 1948, the remaining two districts were merged into one: Shinei (市内区), with 12 communes.

On January 7, 1960, Lüshun City was renamed Lüshunkou District, still under Lüda. In 1985, 7 of its 9 townships were upgraded to towns.