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The New York Times International Edition dated June 6 carried in Page Two an interesting article, with a headline: A Chinese city's Russian Past.

It reports about the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, which is struggling to preserve its legacy amid redevelopment.

The history of Harbin is unique. In 1898, Russian engineers began to build Chinese Eastern Railway with both Chinese and Russian workers. They were soon followed by Russian Jews fleeting pogroms, and then aristocrats driven out by the Bolshevik Revolution and White Russian troops seeking refuge after defeat in civil war.

By the 1920, more than 100,000 Russians had settled in Harbin, along with thousands more representing at least 50 nationalities. Chinese were also drawn to Harbin, first to help build the railway and later for business. Many built stone houses with European exteriors and Chinese-style interior courtyard--- a style local residents commonly call "Chinese baroque."

During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, about 80 percent of the city's roughly 50 synagogues and churches were demolished by Red Guards, including the grand wooden Orthodox cathedral, St. Nicholas, built in 1900.

Now, the city takes pride in St. Sophia Cathedral, which has been preserved as a museum. One synagogue has been turned into a concert hall and another into a Jewish museum.

Evicting the old residents, and with them the popular restaurants and shops, they ran, has destroyed the character of the district, the local preservationists say.