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Anthony J. Farrington

British Military Intelligence on China and the Boxer Rising, c. 1880-1930
Remarkable Series of Secret Gazetteers of the Provinces of China, Confidential Print and Intelligence Reports

English East India Company
British India’s – and by extension the India Office in London’s – interest in and expertise on its great neighbour China was not merely the result of the process of British territorial expansion in South Asia which eventually produced a common border extending from Sinkiang to Yunnan. It had its precusor in the commercial activities of the English East India Company (EIC).
The prize of trade to China was only achieved slowly. Beginning with a trading post on Ming-supporting Taiwan in 1672, the EIC was able to make its peace with the new Q’ing rulers after the island was conquered, and in the 1680s and 1690s was permitted to make regular voyages to Amoy, Chusan and Canton.
In the early 1700s the Q’ing limited the European trading companies to Canton, where an elaborate system of control and supervision through officially-appointed “Hong” merchants was established. The EIC, blessed with a freer commercial structure than its rivals, plus existing contacts into the Chinese merchant community, emerged as the main European player in trade to China. The eighteenth century saw the rise of tea as the new “wonder commodity” which financed the EIC’s rise to pan-Asian dominance. The early nineteenth century saw the vicious illegal traffic in opium, largely originating in British India, which brought so much misery to China.

Expeditions against China
The EIC ceased to be a trading organisation in 1834 and was replaced by dozens of separate British companies. But the Hong trading system still applied at Canton, a clear recipe for trouble. The First China War (Opium War) of 1840-42 was fought because of Chinese action against the British opium network at Canton, but its underlying purpose was to force China to abandon the “Canton system” and open up to foreign trade. British India provided the manpower for the war, drawn from the EIC’s Bengal and Madras Armies and its Bombay Marine. Hong Kong was ceded to the British Crown and five ports were declared open – Canton, Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo and Shanghai.
The Second China War of 1857-60, in which the British were allied with the French, was similarly powered from British India. The British brought to North China 41 warships, 143 transports and 10,500 troops. The allies entered Peking, the Summer Palace was destroyed as a “reprisal” for breaking a flag of truce, and the Q’ing emperor was forced to a treaty settlement which had the effect of opening the whole of China to Western interests.
The present collection covers the period up to and beyond the third British military expedition against China in 1900, when British India again played the leading role. It is largely a reflection of the strategic planning process within British India (and to a lesser extent in London) for future operations.

Military intelligence
A small intelligence branch was formed within the Quarter Master General’s Department at Army Headquarters, India, in 1878. Post-1860 diplomatic representation in China meant that the branch could attach small numbers of officers to the British Embassy in Peking as language students – two were selected annually to undertake a two year course of study and residence in China, followed by a fierce oral and written examination. Its components included:

The examiner reads English sentences aloud and the candidate gives them orally in Chinese.
Passages from the Chinese press are read aloud by a Chinese and the candidate gives them orally in English.
Conversation on military and general subjects with a Chinese.
English sentences on military subjects are laid before the candidate, who translates them into Chinese, writing them down in the Chinese character. Dictionary not allowed. Written translation of official documents and passages from Chinese military textbooks, without the aid of a dictionary.


Successful students went on to form a cadre of language ability and local knowledge back at Army Headquarters or at various postings in China – for instance, British consulates in the western provinces bordering Tibet and Burma were staffed from British India.
The wide-ranging reforms of the Army in India Committee of 1912-13 established an Intelligence Section (M.O.3) within the Military Operations Directorate of the General Staff. China was covered by one of four sub-sections and was manned by two staff officers with shared clerical support.

Great historical value
The Quarter Master General’s Branch and the General Staff, India, were responsible for a stream of gazetteers, route books, military reports and similar compilations. Their purpose, of course, was not to facilitate academic research but to provide essential information for any future military operations against China. But based as they are on first-hand experience, they now have great historical value as a source for conditions in late Q’ing China.
All the works were classified Secret, Confidential or For Official Use Only, and were subject to strict rules of custody. It was also ordered that when a new edition of a particular work appeared all previous editions had to be destroyed. As a result these works survive in very few locations. The collection in the India Office Records at the British Library is unique in its breadth and accessibility.

Provenance and historical background
The various secret and confidential works are located in two internal “reference libraries” which accumulated within the Military Department (L/MIL/17) and the Political & Secret Department (L/P&S/20) at the India Office in London. Items were received upon publication and were kept/disposed of according to the custody rules laid down by the originator.
Papers relating to the 1900 Expedition were received from India by the Military Department registry and were given reference numbers within its annual file sequences. They were eventually brought together as a series of files designated Military Collection 402, from which a selection of intelligence-slanted material has now been made.
All the India Office departments were subsumed within the Commonwealth Relations Office (subsequently the Foreign & Commonwealth Office) after Independence in 1947. In 1982 the Foreign & Commonwealth Office transferred the administration of the India Office Library & Records to the British Library, where it now forms one part of the Library’s Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections (specifically, the former Oriental & India Office Collections (OIOC)).

A.J.Farrington, Former Deputy Director Oriental & India Office Collections (OIOC, now part of the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections), The British Library

This collection includes the sections:
Part 1: Gazetteers, Reports & Routes, 1884-1930
Part 2: China Boxers Expedition, 1900-1903

Delineating British Burma, c. 1826-1949

British Confidential and Official Print

Series:

Anthony J. Farrington

Delineating British Burma, c. 1826-1949
British Confidential and Official Print

The three wars
The collection begins with contemporary accounts and official histories of the three wars of 1824-1826, 1852-1854, and 1885-1886. At the conclusion of the 1st War in 1826, Assam, Arakan, and Tenasserim were annexed to the East India Company’s territories. Assam never became part of British Burma, while Arakan was transferred to the government of Bengal and Tenasserim was placed under the direct control of the Governor-General at Calcutta.
After the 2nd War, the Company annexed Pegu and Martaban, thus taking control of the whole of Lower Burma. In 1862, Tenasserim, Pegu, and Martaban were constituted as British Burma, a new province of British India, each under a Commissioner responsible to the Chief Commissioner at Rangoon, who answered directly to the Governor-General. Independent Burma was now a land-locked state, under constant pressure from the British in the south, especially commercial interests seeking new routes into China.

New territories
On January 1st, 1886, the province of British Burma was more than doubled in size by the final annexation of the kingdom of Burma, although sporadic fighting continued until 1889. As the new territories were divided into four commissionerships and Pegu had meanwhile been split into two, British Burma now comprised eight commissioner’s divisions, headed by the Chief Commissioner with a growing administrative secretariat at Rangoon.
The Chief Commissioner was replaced in 1897 by a Lieutenant-Governor, who was assisted by a Legislative Council, enabling Burma-specific legislation to be enacted for the first time under British rule. From January 2nd, 1923, responsibility for a wide range of functions (but excluding, for example, defense and external relations) was devolved to the Government of Burma.
Subordination to India ended with a new constitution, which took effect on April 1st, 1937. The constitution created a Senate – half of which was to be nominated by the Governor – and an elected House of Representatives. The Governor now answered not to India, but to a Secretary of State for Burma in London (although the office was held by whoever was Secretary of State for India).
During the Japanese invasion, the British and Indian elements in the administration retreated to India and set up a Government of Burma in exile at Simla. This government returned in October 1945 to find that power has already passed to the Burmese nationalists. British rule formally ended on January 4th, 1948, and Burma became an independent republic.

Delineating the territories
The first general gazetteer, of 1879, covered Lower Burma only. The second, of 1883, covered Lower Burma and independent Burma, and was followed in 1900-1901 by a massive (3,000-page) compilation, which also included the Shan states. There are also handbooks and a gazetteer issued for war-time use by the government in exile at Simla.
Military reports and route books were produced by the Intelligence Branch at military headquarters in India, and latterly by South-East Asia Command. The route book, which was first issued in 1903, was divided into four parts, namely northern, north-eastern, western, and southern and the Shan states. In the war-time issues, routes labeled C, D, G, H, L, and M survive.
Attempts to define the boundaries of British Burma – an issue that still engages Burma, China, and Thailand – began after the first territorial annexation of 1826, but did not reach the status of an international agreement until the 1890s. The collection has secret/confidential reports from the Anglo-Siamese Commission of 1892-1893, the Amherst (i.e. Tenasserim)-Siam Commission of 1894-1896, the Burma-China Commission of 1894-1899, and the Sino-British Commission of 1935-1936.
The Burma Gazetteer provides a highly detailed, multi-volume account of early twentieth-century British Burma, compiled by the district officers. The Gazetteer is divided into Part A – which comprises monographs on, for example, the history, geography, administration, and economic life of each district – and Part B, which contains tables of statistics. There are A volumes for 26 districts only, produced between 1910 and 1935. The B volumes of statistics appear in three editions, which were published after the census returns of 1901, 1911, and 1921. These are: 1906-1907: 36 volumes (the China Hills and Shan and Karenni states are not included); 1912-1913: 42 volumes, numbered 1-42; 1924-1925: 42 volumes, numbered 1-43 (Rangoon, vol. 5 in 1912, omitted). Included in this section are a number of other works relating to particular districts or states that do not form part of the Burma Gazetteer series.

Provenance and historical background
The various “Secret,” “Confidential,” or “For Official Use Only” works are located in two internal reference libraries, which accumulated within the Military Department (L/MIL/17) and the Political & Secret Department (L/P&S/20) at the India Office in London. Items were received both from Military Intelligence in India and from the Government of Burma. Custody rules for volumes held “in the field” dictated that when a new edition of a particular work appeared, all previous editions had to be destroyed. As a result, these works in their various issues survive in very few locations. The collection in the India Office Records at the British Library is unique in its breadth and accessibility.
The non-classified works (V/27), mainly the volumes of the Burma Gazetteer, are part of the large collection of official publications managed by the Registry & Records Department at the India Office. All the India Office departments were subsumed within the Commonwealth Relations Office (subsequently the Foreign & Commonwealth Office) after India, Pakistan, and Burma became independent in 1947-1948. In 1982, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office transferred the administration of the India Office Library & Records to the British Library, where it now forms one part of the Library’s Asia, Pacific, and Africa Collections (specifically, the former Oriental & India Office Collections; OIOC).

This collection includes the sections:
BIB-1: The British Conquest, 1827-1905
BIB-2: Gazetteers and Handbooks, 1879-1944
BIB-3: Military Reports and Route Books, 1903-1945
BIB-4: Boundaries, Reports and Examinations, 1892-1936
BIB-5: Reports on Districts and States, 1868-1936

Series:

Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on Afghanistan and Its Frontiers, c. 1888-1946
India Office Political and Secret Files and Confidential Print

Political and military strategies
The defense of the North-West Frontier of British India and the status of Afghanistan in the face of real or imagined Russian threats were dominant themes in the political and military strategies of British India for more than a hundred years, beginning with the First Afghan War intervention of 1838-1842, when the British frontier had not actually reached Afghanistan. Strategic planning and policy formulation required information - intelligence on the terrain, communications, resources, internal politics, tribal groupings, rivalries, and personalities - to provide both background for political relations and practical know-how for possible military operations.
Before 1922, there was no direct Government of India diplomatic or political representation inside Afghanistan, apart from disastrous attempts to station Residents at Kabul in 1838-1842 and 1878-1880, while the government in London did not consider Afghanistan to be a nation of a status requiring a diplomatic mission. Between 1882 and 1919, however, a succession of Indian Muslim Agents were posted to Kabul from India, and after the Third Afghan War of 1919-1921 full diplomatic relations were finally established. The British Ministers in Kabul up to 1949 were members of the Indian Political Service, but were appointed by the Foreign Office in London.
Early information-gathering was both patchy and dangerous, and depended upon the abilities of individual travelers, often in disguise, and the occasional employment of native newswriters. It was not until the outbreak of the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880 that the Government of India began to take more seriously the whole question of intelligence.

Military intelligence
In 1878 an Intelligence Branch was formed within the Quartermaster- General’s Department at Army Headquarters, India, consisting of three officers and two assistants. Reorganization in 1892 increased the complement to five officers and four assistants, and in 1903 the officer-in-charge was raised to the rank of Brigadier-General, with added responsibility for mobilization. The wide-ranging reforms of the Army in India Committee of 1912-1913 established an Intelligence Section (M.O.3) within the Military Operations Directorate of the General Staff. The Section, headed by a General Staff Officer Grade 1 reporting to a Brigadier-General Director of Military Operations, was divided into five subsections, four of them geographical (Afghanistan, Russian Turkestan and the North-West Frontier were subsection N), and the fifth devoted to “special work of a confidential nature.” Total staffing was fifteen officers and ten clerks. This arrangement, with regular increases of personnel, continued until the end of British rule in 1947.

Unique collection
Beginning rather slowly with historically oriented gazetteers and similar background works, the Intelligence Branch eventually issued a stream of practical handbooks, route books, military reports, tribal monographs, “who’s who” compilations, and summaries of events. Sources were officers in the field, particularly those stationed on the North-West Frontier, and their contacts, together with local tribesmen who had been clandestinely employed. All the works were classified “Secret,” “Confidential,” or “For Official Use Only,” and were subject to strict rules of custody. It was also ordered that when a new edition of a particular work appeared, all previous editions were to be destroyed. As a result, these works survive in very few locations.

Political intelligence
The Government of India Foreign & Political Department had a parallel intelligence interest, concentrating on Afghanistan’s internal and external affairs and trans-frontier tribes and personalities. It issued its own compilations, mainly sourced by political officers serving on the North-West Frontier or in Afghanistan proper, and often overlapping the work of the military.

Printed Correspondence
Of special significance, however, is the massive series of Foreign Department Printed Correspondence, totaling some 13,600 pages in 73 parts. Because it was archived in London separately from the main groupings of intelligence publications, the Printed Correspondence remains a little-known source. The series, in imitation of what had become standard practice at the Foreign Office in London, reprinted all incoming and outgoing correspondence and associated papers relating to Afghanistan between 1919 and 1941. Beginning as “Third Afghan War 1919 Correspondence,” the title eventually became “Afghan Series;” the pagination is frequently erratic, but within each part the documents run in a continuously numbered sequence.

Provenance
The secret and confidential print reproduced in the present collection are located in two internal reference libraries which were kept within the Military Department (L/MIL/17) and the Political & Secret Department (L/P&S/20) at the pre-1947 India Office in London. Items were received from India upon publication and were kept or disposed of according to the strict custody rules laid down by the originators. Exceptions are (1) the Foreign Department Printed Correspondence, which passed through the Political & Secret Department registry and was placed in “subject” files up to 1931 (L/P&S/10), and thereafter in “subject” collections (L/P&S/12); and (2) a small number of items which accumulated at the British Legation in Kabul (R/12) and were then brought to London, together with the Legation’s archive, in 1965. All the India Office departments were subsumed within the Commonwealth Relations Office (subsequently the Foreign & Commonwealth Office) after Independence in 1947. In 1982, Library & Records to the British Library, where it now forms a part of the Library’s Oriental & India Office Collections.

A.J. Farrington, Former Deputy Director, Oriental & India Office Collections (OIOC), British Library

This collection includes the sections:
BIA-1: Gazetteers and Handbooks, 1888-1935
BIA-2: Internal and External Affairs, 1907-1941
BIA-3: Who’s Who, 1914-1940
BIA-4: Military Reports, 1906-1940
BIA-5: Route Books, 1907-1941
BIA-6: Frontiers – General & Northern Section, 1910-1946
BIA-7: Frontiers – Central Section, 1908-1941
BIA-8: Frontiers – Waziristan, 1907-1940
BIA-9: Frontiers – Baluchistan, 1910-1946

Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950
This edition is fully endorsed by the British Library – Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC). The files will serve as an essential source material for the study of (among others) the following subjects:
• British intervention in Tibet, 1903-04;
• Tibet’s expulsion of the Chinese, 1911-12;
• The McMahon Line and border determination;
• British support for Tibetan de facto independence;
• Changing attitudes during World War II;
• Indian independence and the Chinese invasion.

This collection is also included in the British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950 collection.

Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950
This edition is fully endorsed by the British Library – Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC). The files will serve as an essential source material for the study of (among others) the following subjects:
• British intervention in Tibet, 1903-04;
• Tibet’s expulsion of the Chinese, 1911-12;
• The McMahon Line and border determination;
• British support for Tibetan de facto independence;
• Changing attitudes during World War II;
• Indian independence and the Chinese invasion.

This collection is also included in the British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950 collection.

Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950
This edition is fully endorsed by the British Library – Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC). The files will serve as an essential source material for the study of (among others) the following subjects:
• British intervention in Tibet, 1903-04;
• Tibet’s expulsion of the Chinese, 1911-12;
• The McMahon Line and border determination;
• British support for Tibetan de facto independence;
• Changing attitudes during World War II;
• Indian independence and the Chinese invasion.

This collection is also included in the British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950 collection.

Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950
This edition is fully endorsed by the British Library – Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC). The files will serve as an essential source material for the study of (among others) the following subjects:
• British intervention in Tibet, 1903-04;
• Tibet’s expulsion of the Chinese, 1911-12;
• The McMahon Line and border determination;
• British support for Tibetan de facto independence;
• Changing attitudes during World War II;
• Indian independence and the Chinese invasion.

This collection is also included in the British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950 collection.

Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950
This edition is fully endorsed by the British Library – Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC). The files will serve as an essential source material for the study of (among others) the following subjects:
• British intervention in Tibet, 1903-04;
• Tibet’s expulsion of the Chinese, 1911-12;
• The McMahon Line and border determination;
• British support for Tibetan de facto independence;
• Changing attitudes during World War II;
• Indian independence and the Chinese invasion.

This collection is also included in the British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950 collection.

Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950
This edition is fully endorsed by the British Library – Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC). The files will serve as an essential source material for the study of (among others) the following subjects:
• British intervention in Tibet, 1903-04;
• Tibet’s expulsion of the Chinese, 1911-12;
• The McMahon Line and border determination;
• British support for Tibetan de facto independence;
• Changing attitudes during World War II;
• Indian independence and the Chinese invasion.

This collection is also included in the British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950 collection.

Anthony J. Farrington

British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950
This edition is fully endorsed by the British Library – Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC). The files will serve as an essential source material for the study of (among others) the following subjects:
• British intervention in Tibet, 1903-04;
• Tibet’s expulsion of the Chinese, 1911-12;
• The McMahon Line and border determination;
• British support for Tibetan de facto independence;
• Changing attitudes during World War II;
• Indian independence and the Chinese invasion.

This collection is also included in the British Intelligence on China in Tibet, 1903-1950 collection.