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The Russian ethnic minority

Population: 13,500

Major area of distribution: Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia

Language: Russian

Religion: Orthodox Eastern Church

The ethnic Russians in China living in Ili, Tacheng, Altay and Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

They first began moving to China from Tsarist Russia after the 18th century. More entered various parts of Xinjiang after the 19th century, and even after the October Revolution in 1917.

They speak Russian, their customs and clothing are almost identical to those of the Russians in Russia, and most of them believe in the Orthodox Eastern Church.

Before the founding of the People¡¯s Republic of China in 1949, the Russians living in towns were mostly employed in various repairing businesses, transport, handicrafts, horticulture, animal husbandry and bee-keeping. In rural areas, groups of about 10 Russian families lived together in small villages. They reclaimed and cultivated the wasteland on the banks of the Ili and Tekes rivers.

They had achieved a fairly high level of development in production and culture. But under reactionary rule, they were exploited and oppressed.

The Russians living in urban areas now work mainly in industry, transport, finance, trade and medicine.

Although the Russian ethnic group in China has a small population, it has deputies to the National People's Congress and the regional People's Congress. They take an active part in running state and regional affairs.

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