Hegang (Chinese: 鹤岗; pinyin: Hègǎng, also known as Heli and Xingshan), is a prefecture-level city in Heilongjiang province of the People's Republic of China, situated in the southeastern section of the Lesser Khingan Range, facing Jiamusi across the Songhua River to the south and Russia's Jewish Autonomous Oblast across the Amur River to the north. Hegang is one of the principal coal-producing cities in China. Hegang covers an administrative area of 14,679.88 km2 (5,667.93 sq mi) and according to the 2020 Chinese census, has a population of 891,271 inhabitants, of whom 545,404 lived in the built-up (or metro) area made of 6 urban districts.
The region of Hegang was a desolate and uninhabited area until the late 1890s. In 1906, the area of Hegang City was under the administration of Tangyuan County under the Qing Dynasty. Since then, the government has been encouraging people to farm in the region. In 1914, a coalfield was discovered in Haoli, and Heilongjiang Government approved to set up Xinghua Mines (興華煤礦) which is jointly invested by merchants including Shen Songnian (沈松年). The area was also renamed Xingshan (興山) after the Xinghua Coal Mine. The Hegang mines were founded in 1916 by a Chinese entrepreneur with Russian capital. Hegang has witnessed rapid economic growth thanks to its rich coal resources. In 1926 a railway was built between Hegang and Jiamusi, some 30 miles to the south on the Songhua River. A coal carrier fleet was privately financed in 1930 by General Zhang Xueliang. In August 1932, Hegang mines were occupied by the Japanese as the Japanese Empire advanced through Manchuria. The mines were further developed during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. On August 11, 1945, Hegang was occupied by the Soviet Red Army, and was relegated to the Communist Force. Since several major coal mines in southern Manchuria were controlled by Kuomintang Forces, Hegang became one of the main coal-producing area of Communist Force in the Chinese Civil-War, playing an important role in guaranteeing the acquisition of weapons and other war materials. Hegang was renamed in 1949, and set up as a prefecture-level city in Heilongjiang.
After 1949 the city experienced further rapid growth. The mines were extended and modernized, and their annual output increased dramatically. Most of the coal is high-quality coking coal that is also used to make coal gas; apart from a small quantity consumed in Jiamusi, the bulk of it is shipped by rail to Anyang, Henan and to other industrial cities such as Anshan and Benxi in Liaoning. By the late 1950s the coal industry employed more than 80 percent of the working population. Although the mines continued to be developed and output increased, Hegang's industrial activity was beginning to diversify, especially after a large thermal-power-generating installation was constructed by the early 1970s.