The Russian Orthodox Mission in China had its beginnings with the capture of forty-five Russians when the Chinese Emperor Kangxi (Kang Hsi), of the Qing dynasty, captured Albasin, a Russian fortress on the Amur River. Among those captured was Fr. Maxim Leontev, an Orthodox priest. He was brought with the prisoners to Beijing late in the year 1685. There he settled in the ambassadorial quarters in the north eastern section of the city and served his small community for twenty years, using a converted Chinese temple as his [[chapel]]. The chapel was [[consecration of a church|consecrated]] to the [[Holy Wisdom]] of God. In 1695, Fr. Maxim received documentation from the [[Metropolitan]] of Tobolsk recognizing the consecration of the church and directed Fr. Maxim to commemorate the Chinese emperor and to begin preaching to the Chinese. Fr. Maxim reposed in 1712, thus ending his informal mission.
With Fr. Maxim’s passing, a formal Orthodox Mission was formed that acted as official representative of the Russian government. The activities of the mission were subordinated to the Russian government diplomatic and political interests This period lasted until 1860. During this period the composition and head of the mission changed about every ten years and was generally composed of four [[clergy]] and six [[laymen]]. The laymen were usually students whose duty was to learn the Chinese and Manchu languages and then became interpreters and eventually consuls for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The mission was financed by and received direction from the government. This situation directly affected the [[missionary]] activities of the clergy. As the relations between Russia and China were defined formally, the work of each member of the mission was clearly defined. Under such circumstances, the missionary efforts of the Mission were greatly hindered and conversions, hence the number of baptisms was not significant.
Each change of the head of the mission has been identified serially. During the period to 1860 the number of changes was thirteen. Beijing being on the end of a long caravan route, communications with Russia were infrequent, only two to four times each year. This hampered the receipt of funds for the operation of the Mission.