Britain and Chinese Central Asia: The Road to Lhasa, 1767 to 1905

Britain and Chinese Central Asia: The Road to Lhasa, 1767 to 1905

Britain and Chinese Central Asia: The Road to Lhasa, 1767 to 1905

Britain and Chinese Central Asia: The Road to Lhasa, 1767 to 1905

Excerpt

By the end of the nineteenth century the British Empire in India had acquired a long frontier in common with territory under Chinese control. From the Pamirs to the Mekong the limit to British expansion in the Indian subcontinent was marked by the Chinese border. To the north of Kashmir across the passes of the Karakoram lay Sinkiang with its caravan cities of Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan. Beyond the Himalayas, either in direct contact with British territory or separated from it by states like Nepal and Bhutan which were more or less within the British sphere, spread the high expanse of the Tibetan plateau. From the extreme north of Burma to the Mekong and the borders of the French Empire an illdefined line separated the British from the Chinese province of Yunnan. This book is the first of three volumes on the history of this frontier from the latter part of the eighteenth century to the opening years of the twentieth century. Tibet is discussed here; and the subsequent volumes will be concerned with British relations with Sinkiang and Yunnan.

The history of this frontier, as in the case of the British frontier with Afghanistan and Persia, was very much influenced by the wider considerations of British policy in Asia and in Europe. British relations with Sinkiang and, towards the end of the nineteenth century, with Tibet were to a great extent conditioned by the demands of the "Great Game", the rivalry between Britain and Russia which resembled in so many ways the Cold War of today. The wish to anticipate a French advance from Indo-China was an important factor in the British attitude towards Yunnan. Sinkiang, Tibet and Yunnan were . . .

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