- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 1629 Hour
- Reading permission
manoj10 Post time: 2017-9-2 12:21
I don't think Bhutan wants to open upto China with China claiming almost half of Bhutan and consid ...
The answer in Bhutan is simple: the British DID invade Bhutan. Britishers were traversing the Himalayas ever since they conquered the Bengal in the 18th Century. The main goal here was the tea trade with China. Britain was already dealing with the Chinese in the tea trade from the Pacific side of things, but they wanted to knock out the competition and start trading from the West through Tibet. (This conflict later merged into the "Great Game" against Russia where they both fought for Transoxiana, Afghanistan, the Punjab, and Tibet, culminating more or less in a British victory by World War I). For a long time, the British were afraid to make moves into the Himalayas because they feared all-out war with China, which would disrupt the tea trade they already had. While there were Chinese ambans in Tibet, effectively tying Tibet to China however precariously or permanently (depending on if you asked a Tibetan or Chinese), the British were unsure if there were Chinese connections to Bhutan (there weren't). The Bhutanese, who weren't even sure what a "Britain" was were more than happy to keep the Europeans in the dark.
Side note, when Bhutan first formed with the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyals flight from Ralung in Tibet to Gasa in Bhutan, the area was known as "Lhomon" or "Southern Mon." "Mon" has its own history more or less relating to darkness, as in a land or people without Buddhism. By the time the Zhabdrung arrived, Buddhism was flourishing pretty well, but the name had stuck. Gradually the name shifted to "Druk Yul" which literally means "Dragon Country" (though you will most often hear it as "Land of the Thunder Dragon") indicative of the country's prevailing school of Buddhism, the Drukpa Kagyu sect. It was George Bogle, a Scotsman journeying to the Himalayas in the late 18th Century that finally nailed down the huge region Europeans had been alternately labeling on maps as either "Thibet" or "Boutan." He simply chose the southern one as Bhutan, and the northern one as Tibet, being one of the first Europeans to distinguish that they were separate states. Anyway...
The British had just fought the Opium Wars with China. Long story short, they started an illegal drug trade, importing opium into China to force their way to monopolize the tea trade. The plan worked splendidly but the whole point of forcing China into submission was because they figured that tea only grew in China. At some point, they learned that the Himalayan foothills were PERFECT for growing tea, so the Brits set about securing as much of this fertile, important ecological zone as possible.
If you look at a map of the subcontinent, there's a tiny piece of land that juts north directly between Nepal and Bhutan. This place, called Sikkim, was also historically Tibetan Buddhist with its own Tibetan-based language and strong ties to Lhasa. The British sent an officer by the name of Ashley Eden who forced the Sikkimese Chogyal (lit. Dharma King) to sign a treaty that tied Sikkim directly to the Raj. When India obtained independence in 1947, Sikkim became a dependent of India - neither an Indian state, nor an independent one. (I'm paraphrasing the history of Sikkim, I'm not nearly as well read up on the subject as I am on Bhutan).
This man, Ashley Eden, was so remarkable in bringing Sikkim into the British Raj that the command in Calcutta sent him to Bhutan to essentially do the same: bring Bhutan into the Raj, plant tea, profit.
Bhutan was slightly bigger at this time. There was a large piece of land along Bhutan's southern border called the "Duars" (sometimes spelled, quite appropriately as the "Doors"). The Duars were a series of provinces in what is today Assam that were populated mostly with Nepalis (who were invited to clear the malaria-ridden jungle by the Bhutanese themselves) and Assamese. All of whom paid regular tribute to Punakha (the medieval capital of Bhutan). This was also a regular source and launching point of Bhutanese raiders into Assam.
When the British conquered Assam in the mid-1800s, they assumed that what the Assamese Kings claimed was now theirs. This territory included the Duars. So to recap, a minor territorial dispute erupted into the 1864 Duar War for the following reasons:
Bhutan launched raids into what the British claimed was their territory, though the Bhutanese claimed the Duars as their own.
The Duars, which were tiny, were immensely important because they were perfect for growing tea.
By now, a number of surveys had been done in Bhutan to find out that Bhutan was not controlled by China, nor would there be a risk of losing the tea trade since the British were now fueling their own.
Eden was sent to Bhutan to deal with the Bhutanese and obtain a similar success he'd reached in Sikkim. Unfortunately for him, Bhutan at this point was being run by the formidable personality of Jigme Namgyal, called the Black Regent because he dressed in black all of the time. Jigme Namgyal, the last Desi of Bhutan, sent Eden on a wild goose chase when he arrived. Eden ran around Jigme's camp for "the person to talk to." It eventually culminated in Jigme rubbing wet dough on Eden's face under the claim, "We can't be friends until you do this." Eden stormed out of Bhutan declaring that the Bhutanese were barbarous and couldn't be dealt with and suggested that Britain invade the country and just take what they wanted.
And they did. The British invaded Bhutan and easily subdued Punakha. Unsurprisingly, getting into Bhutan was easy, getting out was a bit harder. Jigme Namgyal launched raid after raid against the British force, waging a guerilla campaign that beat the red coats into submission. When the Treaty of Sinchula was signed in '65 effectively ceding the Duars to Britain in exchange for a large sum of money.
This treaty would outline the relationship between Bhutan and the British Raj until 1910 when the Treaty of Punakha updated this arrangement.
Before that happened, in 1903 the British decided to end Russian threats to Tibet once and for all. A British army armed with maxim guns, led by Colonel Younghusband, and with a man named Ugyen Wangchuck in tow, marched into Tibet through Sikkim and enforced their previous agreements made with the 13th Dalai Lama. It wasn't any sort of resounding victory, but it ended any Tibetan flirtation with Russia which was the whole point.
Ugyen Wangchuck, for his role as a mediator and translator between the British and Tibetans, was knighted. Ugyen was the son of Jigme Namgyal and the effective ruler of Bhutan after defeating a rebellious alliance of nobles at the Battle of Changangkha in 1884 (give or take a year). In 1907, seeing the need for a new constitution to rule Bhutan* he was elected as Bhutan's first hereditary Druk Gyalpo (lit. Dragon King). Three years later, when the Treaty of Punakha was signed, it made Bhutan a part of the British Empire, but not a formal part of the Raj. Bhutan obtained an "advisory role" in the Empire but was still independent and could manage their own internal affairs. What is interesting to note is that when any King of Bhutan visited India, he was introduced with and seated as high as any of the Maharajas of India. (While this may not carry a lot of symbolic importance to us, to Tibetan cultures, seating is incredibly important and Tibetan historians take care to note when (for example) Gushri Khan and the Panchen Lama are seated at equal heights, but still below H.H. Dalai Lama V.)
When India became independent in 1947, British relations with Bhutan essentially came to an end. India had inherited both this position as well as the Treaty of Punakha. With regular updates regarding the amount paid to Bhutan, this relationship is still in effect. Bhutan receives millions in aid from India in exchange for extremely beneficial trade agreements (Bhutan's biggest export is hydroelectric power, most of which is sold directly to India).
Being a client state of Britain but independent of the Raj worked very well for the Wangchucks and Bhutan in the long run. Sikkim was overrun by Nepalis who overthrew the Chogyal and elected their own government under the Indian constitution. Bhutan managed to escape this fate, though it caused an ethnic crisis in the '90s and an ongoing refugee problem.
All because of the British and their goddamn tea.
Sources: The History of Bhutan, Karma Phuntsho The Kingdom at the Center of the World, Omair Ahmad