Songhua River

The Songhua River (also Haixi or Xingal, Russian: Сунгари Sungari) is one of the primary rivers of China, and the longest tributary of the Amur. It flows about 1,434 kilometres (891 mi) from the Changbai Mountains on the China–North Korea border through China's northeastern Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.

Songhua River
Songhua River, just west of Harbin. Oxbow lakes are common sights along the sides of the river.
Native nameNative Name: ᠰᡠᠩᡤᠠᡵᡳ
(sunggari ula)
CountryPeople's Republic of China
ProvincesJilin, Heilongjiang
Physical characteristics
Tongjiang, Heilongjiang
47.699°N 132.5176°E / 47.699; 132.5176
Basin features
ProgressionAmurSea of Okhotsk
Songhua River
Songhua River is shown in a darkish blue color.
Chinese name
Alternative Chinese name
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᠰᡠᠩᡤᠠᡵᡳ ᡠᠯᠠ
Romanizationsunggari ula

The river drains 557,180 square kilometres (215,130 sq mi) of land,[1][2] and has an annual discharge of 2,463 cubic metres per second (87,000 cu ft/s).[3]

The extreme flatness of the Northeast China Plain has caused the river to meander over time, filling the wide plain with oxbow lakes, as remnants of the previous paths of the river.


The Songhua rises south of Heaven Lake, near the China-North Korea border.[citation needed]

From there it flows north, to be interrupted by the Baishan, Hongshi and Fengman hydroelectric dams. The Fengman Dam forms a lake that stretches for 62 kilometres (39 mi). Below the dam, the Second Songhua flows north through Jilin, then northwest until it is joined by its largest tributary, the Nen River, near Da'an, to create the Songhua proper.

The Songhua turns east through Harbin, and after the city, it is joined from the south by the Ashi River, and then by the Hulan River from the north.

A new dam was constructed in 2007 near Bayan (50 km north-east of Harbin), creating the Dadingshan Reservoir,[4] which is named after the scenic area on the south bank (Chinese: 大顶山; pinyin: Dàdǐng Shān; lit. 'Big Topped Mountain').

The river flows onward through Jiamusi and south of the Lesser Xing'an Range, to eventually join the Amur at Tongjiang, Heilongjiang.

The river freezes from late November until March. It has its highest flows when the mountain snow melts during the spring thaw. The river is navigable up to Harbin by medium-sized ships. Smaller craft can navigate the Songhua up to Jilin and the Nen River up to Qiqihar.

Cities along the river include:


Children play on frozen Songhua

In November 2005, the river was contaminated with benzene, leading to a shutdown of Harbin's water supply.[citation needed] The spill stretched 80 kilometres (50 mi) and eventually reached the Amur (Heilong) River on the China–Russia border.[5] On July 28, 2010, several thousand barrels from two chemical plants in China's Jilin City were washed away by floods. Some of them contained 170 kilograms (370 lb) of explosive material like trimethylsilyl chloride and hexamethyldisiloxane.[6][7] In 2016, the part near the city of Jilin was affected by a minor flood.

See also