The Great Game (Chinese: 偉大的比賽) was the term for the strategic rivalry and conflict between several international forces for supremacy in Eastern Asia, and mainly the Qing Empire. The period of the Game varies, though it is generally accepted from during the formation of British India in 1612 to the end of World War II, when Communist China was defeated by the Allies and divided by the victors.
early history to come
By the 1820s, there was growing concern between the British and the Russians over their influence in Asia, especially concerning India. Many British colonialists openly expressed their concern to the government of a Russian attack and conquer of British Indian lands, especially with their extent into Central Asia.
Meanwhile, Emperor Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar had grown quite discontent with British support against the Russians. The recent Russo-Persian Wars had caused harsh territorial concessions, with little to no support from their British ally. Fat′h Ali soon lessened their relations on the British, and turned to the French, who was enticed by the fact the revolutionaries had defeated much of Europe and conquered several pieces of land.
In 1828, the Emperor sent formal relations to president Charles Talleyrand, who accepted before his presidency ended. President Pierre François Tissot had grown the relations largely, and the two had began visiting one another whenever possible. After much discussion, Fat′h Ali had proclaimed his wish to restore Persia to her former glory, including to restore the land to the extent of the Afsharid dynasty.
By 1834, the two leaders agreed it was in their best intentions to invade (and conquer) the Durrani Empire, which the Emperor felt was a rogue state. If reconquered, it would both spite the Russians for their losses in the Caucasus, "protect" the British Indian territories from invasion, and begin an era of reformation for the Persian Empire. On April 8, the Persian Empire (with aid from the French), declared war on the Durrani Empire.
The "players" in the Great Game and their influence/ambitions were:
- France — Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Siam
- Japan — Korean Empire, Formosa, Manchuria
- Russia — Mongolia, Sinkiang, Manchuria
- United Kingdom — Tibet, Hunan, Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Jiangxi