V.S. Myasnikov was born on 15 May 1931 in Moscow. Graduating from secondary school in 1950, he began to study at the Department of Chinese Studies at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies. The victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the civil war and the founding of the People’s Republic of China influenced his educational choice. In 1954, he was transferred to the Department of Chinese at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). After completing his studies, he joined the team of Sinologists and Manchu scholars headed by L.S. Perelomov who worked with documents and materials of the Manchurian collection (seized by forces of the Russian empire during the Boxer Uprising) and prepared to hand them over to the PRC government. Later young V.S. Myasnikov started to work as a researcher at the Institute of Chinese Studies created at the Institute of Oriental Studies. Under supervision of Pavel Yemelyanovich Skachkov (1892–1964), he conducted detailed research on relations between China and Russia from 1689 to 1916 and the results were published in 1958 as the anthology “Russia-China relations, 1689–1916: official documents” [Русско-китайские отношения 1689–1916]. After the passing of P.Y. Skachkov in 1964, V.S. Myasnikov prepared two articles of his supervisor which were published as the monograph by P.Y. Skachkov titled “Essays on the history of Russian sinology” [Очерки истории русского китаеведения] (1977).
In 1958 V.S. Myasnikov conducted his first research in China. He worked in the archive of the former imperial palace Gugong, studied books kept in the Beijing library and many other historical texts. In Beijing he met his colleague at the Institute of Chinese Studies Svetlana D. Markova and they soon married. Markova was a well-known philologist specializing in modern Chinese literature and culture. She introduced V.S. Myasnikov to her friends, academician Guo Moruo (1892–1978), mathematician and academician Hua Luogeng (1910–1985), poet Xiao San (1896–1983) and many other prominent Chinese intellectuals.
When V.S. Myasnikov entered postgraduate study at the Institute of Asian Countries in 1960, he already had many publications that reflected his research interests. His candidate’s dissertation, defended in 1964, was on the topic of Russia-China relations, too. Then, he went to China to study at the Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Deterioration of USSR-China relations and distortion of the history of Russia-China relations further stimulated V.S. Myasnikov to conduct detailed research on the history of Russia-China relations. He initiated the creation of the series “Russia-China relations: materials and documents” [Русско-китайские отношения. Материалы и документы]. The first volume of this series was completed and V.S. Myasnikov joined the Soviet delegation as an expert during negotiations in Beijing in 1969.
From 1964 to 1966 V.S. Myasnikov was a researcher at the Institute of Economics of the World Socialist System. From 1966 to 2003 he worked at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences (now Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) as academic secretary (1967–1969), senior researcher, department head (1969–1985), assistant director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies RAS since 1985 and the head of the “Russia-China” Center at the same institute since 1992.
In 1978 he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled “Traditional diplomacy of China and implementation of Qing strategic plans with regard to the Russian state in the 17th century” [Традиционная китайская дипломатия и реализация Цинской империей стратегических планов в отношении Русского государства в XVII веке]. He became professor in 1982. He was elected a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in December 1990 with the specialization “General history”. In May 1997 he was elected an academician of the RAS with the specialization “General history, Oriental studies”.
V.S. Myasnikov has been teaching for many years. For nearly 10 years he lectured on Chinese history at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). Also, he taught at the Oriental University of the Institute of Oriental Studies RAS and at the Faculty of World Politics at Moscow State University.
V.S. Myasnikov is a longtime Vice Chairman of the Russia-China Friendship Association. From 1997 to 2003 he was a Russian Vice Chairman of the China-Russia Friendship Committee for Peace and Development. Since 1998 he is the president of the Association of Chinese Studies RAS. Since 2003 he is an advisor of the RAS.
Academician-Orientalist V. P. Vasilyev: Kazan—Beijing—Saint Petersburg. (Essays and materials) [Академик-востоковед В. П. Васильев: Казань—Пекин—Санкт-Петербург (очерки и материалы)] / Valeyev R.M., Walravens H., Datsyshen V.G., Elantseva O.P., Zhukov V.Y., Kulganek I.V., Liu Liqiu, Martynov D.Y., Mayatsky D.M., Pang T.A., Uspensky V.L.; compiled by Pang T.A.; eds. Valeyev R.M., Kulganek I.V. Saint Petersburg, Kazan, 2021. 320 p., ill.