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Quarters of the Expeditionary Force crossed the frontier on the 15th November, and Theebaw sued for peace on the 25th (the day on which the monopoly of railways was assigned to France). He was formally dethroned and deported from his Capital on the 29th, and his country was annexed to the British Empire on ist March 1886. Although with the blessing of Providence and by means of the thunder of heavy guns and the rattle of musketry, by good luck and prudent management, the conquest of Burma and the overthrow of the dynasty of Alompra had been accomplished within a fortnight and the programme issued by the Government of India and Commander-in-Chief had been so completely carried out that Burma from the British frontier to Mandalay seemed to be tranquil, yet looking to the prospect of risings among the natives and to the probability that China would emphasize her objections to the British invasion of Burma by occupying the Northern Districts, the Commander of the Expeditionary Force, having on his own initiative in December 1885 at considerable risk seized and garrisoned with Artillery and Infantry the important Station of Bhamo (250 miles North of Mandalay), which is on the confines of China, and commands the trade routes from Yunnan, established friendly relations with the Chinese frontier authorities. By this decided move the restless spirits on both sides of the border were prevented from raiding and breaking the peace;
and in consequence of it the Court of Pekin accepted the fact that Bhamo was no longer a part of the Kingdom of Ava, but would, in future, be administered by British officers, loyally recognized the frontier as it existed in the days of King Theebaw and agreed that the boundary between Burma and China shall be marked by a Deliniitation Committee, consisting of officers of both nations.
The war with Burma was undertaken simply to obviate the preponderance of other European Powers in farther India; it was quickly finished, but the British Government had not determined beforehand what was to be the fate of the country after the deposition of the reigning monarch, so it was impossible to act with the energy needed to thoroughly subjugate a territory containing 100,000 to 200,000 square miles, that had for years been in a state verging on anarchy; consequently there were disturbance and brigandage and confusion in Upper Burma for a time. Even in many places where military force existed for the purpose of keeping order there were not sufficient administrative officers, civilians were scarce, and military officers could not be spared; the people were not hostile, but there was no one to assure them that they would be protected and to encourage them to live a peaceful and righteous life, no one to act as their friend and shield when threatened by revolu. tionary or hostile neighbours. After the more accessible districts had settled down under the charge of Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners it became necessary to deal with Chins and Kachins, dwellers in mountains and forests far from the haunts of civilized man. The golden rule in the East as elsewhere is “first make up your mind deliberately what you should do or get and then do it or acquire it, no matter what the difficulties or obstacles; and on the other hand take nothing that you do not want, and nothing to which you have no right.” The Burmo-Siamese frontier has been delimited. Before marking the boundary between Burma and China, it was the duty of engineers and surveyors to ascertain what places must be held by the British for the sake of international trade and for strategical reasons. The obligatory points having been determined it is useless, nay criminal, to postpone the day of delimitation, the interests of all parties being identical. China no longer adheres to her traditional policy of isolation and exclusiveness; she is anxious to promote trade and to ensure a peaceful frontier, and, as matter of fact, China was never opposed to export trade into Burma. The British Empire is large enough and should not be increased by the acquisition of useless territories, and the British Army is not so strong that England can afford to fritter away her Battalions in unnecessary and inglorious struggles with turbulent Kachins and border tribes; but, at the same time, England should never retreat, and never relinquish what has once been hers.
British columns have of late been visiting the Kachins north of Bhamo in their fastnesses and the Kachins have in the same way as their neighbours been designated Dacoits. It is very important that the policy of England with regard to the Chinese frontier shall, unlike that pursued in the North-West with regard to Afghanistan, be firm, consistent and conciliatory. By such a system we may hope not only to attract the trade of China, but also to induce the immigration of valuable settlers into the fertile, but scantily inhabited, valleys of Upper Burma, and may secure the cordial co-operation of China in such arrangements as may be necessary to prevent encroachments in the Pamir.
THE CHIN AND THE KACHIN TRIBES ON
THE BORDERLAND OF BURMA.
By Taw Sein Ko,
By the annexation of Upper Burma in 1886 the British Government was brought face to face with a number of hill tribes inhabiting its mountainous fringe of borderland, of which the Chins and the Kachins have proved to be the most troublesome. Ethnically, these tribes belong to that vaguely defined and yet little understood stock, the Turanian, which includes among others the Chinese, Tibetans, Manchus, Japanese, Annamese, Siamese, Burmese, and the Turks. The evidence of language, so far as it has been studied, leaves little doubt that ages ago China exercised much influence on these Turanian races, whose habitat, it is said, included the whole of, at least, Northern India before its conquest by the Aryans. As in India, so in Burma, one of the problems of administration presented to the British Government is how best to effect the regeneration of these ancient peoples, who have now lapsed into savagery, and are devoid of any power of cohesion, in order that they may be a source of strength, and not of weakness, to the Empire.
Omitting certain districts of Lower Burma, where numbers of Chins are found, the country inhabited by their wilder brethren may be described as touching Burma on two sides, namely, on the east of Arakan, and on the west of Upper Burma; or, in other words, it may be described as the block of country entirely surrounded on all sides by territory under direct British administration or protection as the State of Manipur. The recalcitrant Chins recently referred to in the English newspapers are those who inhabit the latter locality, and who owed allegiance to the late ruler of Upper Burma. They are a strong and hardy race of fierce and desperate fighters, who take a special delight in raiding into adjoining districts, kidnapping men, women, and children, and driving off cattle. The human captives are either sold into slavery, or held to ransom; and be it said to the credit of the Chins, that they are not cruel taskmasters to their slaves. Raiding appears to be one of the normal conditions of their existence. By raiding their numbers are reduced, which is thus a check on the population; and, if successful, a more bountiful food-supply is secured. They may be described as agricultural nomads, moving continually from one locality to another in search of new lands for cultivation. Their system of agriculture is extremely wasteful. It consists in burning down tracts of forests and sowing, on the land, their cereals without ploughing or irrigating it or transplanting the seedlings. Holes are made in the ground with a pointed bamboo and a few seeds are placed in each of them. Their agricultural outturn and the spoils of their chase are hardly sufficient to keep them in health and comfort. Their supplies have to be supplemented from the plains, whence they must also get their salt, and the materials for chewing and smokingto which they are extremely addicted—such as tobacco, cutch, lime, and betel-nut, besides cotton twist or cotton fabrics to keep themselves warm.
The Chins are broken up into a number of tribes or clans, whose basis of organization is the worship of common tutelary deities, or consanguinity, real or fictitious. Their language presents many dialectical differences, which are so pronounced that they are liable to be taken for linguistic differences. Continual feuds and constant warfare have caused their segregation, and their estrangement from each other.
The Chins have some very quaint traditions which may be of some interest to students of anthropology. They say that mankind sprang from 101 eggs laid by their god Hli. From the last egg were produced the first male and female Chin, who stood in the relation of brother and sister to each other. These two got separated ; and when they met each other again the brother had espoused a bitch. The sister wanted to marry her brother, and she appealed