|Second||Position: Grand Councilor, General|
|Third||Nationality: Chinese Manchu|
|Fourth||Allegiance: Qing Dynasty|
|Sixth||Died: July 1770 (aged 60)|
Fuheng (Chinese: 傅恒; pinyin: Fùhéng, Manchu: ᡶᡠᡥᡝᠨ Fuhen; born 1710 - died July 1770), style name Chunhe (春和), was a Qing Dynasty official from the Manchu Fuca (富察) clan and the Bordered Yellow Banner of the Eight Banners, and was a brother of the Empress Xiaoxianchun. He served as a senior minister at the court of his brother-in-law, the Qianlong Emperor from the 1750s to his death in 1770. He is best known for leading the Qing troops in the fourth and last invasion of Burma in the Sino-Burmese War (1765–1769).
Prior to his appointment as the commander-in-chief of the Burma campaign, Fuheng was chief grand councilor to the emperor, and one of the emperor's most trusted advisers. Fuheng was one of the few senior officials that fully backed the Qianlong Emperor's decision to eliminate the Dzungars in the 1750s when most at the court thought war was too risky. His nephew Mingrui was a son-in-law of the emperor, and led the Burma campaign of 1767–1768. His son Fuk'anggan was a senior general in the Qing military.
On 14 April 1768, the imperial court announced the death of Mingrui and the appointment of Fuheng as the new chief commander of the Burma campaign. Manchu generals, Agui, Aligun and Suhede were appointed as his deputies. Fuheng arrived in Yunnan in April, 1769 to take command of a 60,000-strong force. He studied past Ming and Mongol expeditions to form his battle plan, which called for a three-pronged invasion via Bhamo and the Irrawaddy river.
The first army would attack Bhamo and Kaungton head-on, which he knew would be difficult. But two other larger armies would bypass Kaungton and march down the Irrawaddy, one on each bank of the river, to Ava. The twin invading armies on each side of the river would be accompanied by war boats manned by thousands of sailors from the Fujian Navy. Fuheng was determined to guard his supply and communication lines, and advance at a sustainable pace. He avoided an invasion route through the jungles of Shan Hills so as to minimize the Burmese guerrilla attacks on his supply lines. He also brought in a full regiment of carpenters who would build fortresses and boats along the invasion route.
For the Burmese, the overall objective was to stop the enemy at the border, and prevent another Chinese penetration into their heartland. Maha Thiha Thura was the overall commander, the role which he had assumed since the second half of the third invasion. As usual, Balamindin commanded the Kaungton fort. In the last week of September, three Burmese armies were dispatched to meet the three Chinese armies head-on. A fourth army was organized with the sole purpose of cutting the enemy supply lines.
Hsinbyushin had also organized a flotilla of war boats to meet the Chinese war boats. The Burmese defenses now included French musketeers and gunners under the command of Pierre de Milard, governor of Tabe, who had arrived back from the Siamese theater. Based on their troop movements, the Burmese knew at least the general direction of where the massive invasion force would come.
Maha Thiha Thura moved upriver by boat toward Bhamo. As the Burmese armies marched north, Fuheng, against the advice of his officers, decided not to wait until the end of the monsoon season. It clearly was a calculated gamble; he had wanted to strike before the Burmese arrived but he had also hoped that "miasma would not be everywhere".
So in October 1768, towards the end of (but still during) the monsoon season, Fuheng launched the largest invasion yet. The three Chinese armies jointly attacked and captured Bhamo. They proceeded south and built a massive fortress near Shwenyaungbin village, 12 miles east of the Burmese fortress at Kaungton. As planned, the carpenters duly built hundreds of war boats to sail down the Irrawaddy.
But almost nothing went according to plan. One army did cross over to the western bank of the Irrawaddy, as planned. But the commander of that army did not want to march far away from the base. When the Burmese army assigned to guard the west bank approached, the Chinese retreated back to the east bank. Likewise, the army assigned to march down the eastern bank also did not proceed. This left the Chinese flotilla exposed. The Burmese flotilla came up the river and attacked and sank all the Chinese boats.
The Chinese armies now converged on attacking Kaungton. But for four consecutive weeks, the Burmese put up a remarkable defense, withstanding gallant charges by the Bannermen to scale the walls. A little over a month into the invasion, the entire Qing invasion force was bogged down at the border. Predictably, many Chinese soldiers and sailors fell ill, and began to die in large numbers. Fuheng himself was struck down by fever.
More ominously for the Chinese, the Burmese army sent to cut the enemy line of communication also achieved its purpose, and closed in on the Chinese armies from the rear. By early December, the Chinese forces were completely encircled. The Burmese armies then attacked the Chinese fort at Shwenyaungbin, which fell after a fierce battle. The fleeing Chinese troops fell back into the pocket near Kaungton where other Chinese forces were stationed. The Chinese armies were now trapped inside the corridor between the Shwenyaungbin and Kaungton forts, completely surrounded by rings of Burmese forces.
Fuheng, who had already lost 20,000 men, and a quantity of arms and ammunition, now asked for terms. The Burmese staff were averse to granting terms, saying that the Chinese were surrounded like cattle in a pen, they were starving, and in a few days, they could be wiped out to a man. But Maha Thiha Thura, who oversaw the annihilation of Mingrui's army at the battle of Maymyo in 1768, realized that another wipe-out would merely stiffen the resolve of the Chinese government.
Maha Thiha Thura was said to have said:
Comrades, unless we make peace, yet another invasion will come. And when we have defeated it, yet another will come. Our nation cannot go on just repelling invasion after invasion of the Chinese for we have other things to do. Let us stop the slaughter, and let their people and our people live in peace.
He pointed out to his commanders that war with the Chinese was quickly becoming a cancer that would finally destroy the nation. Compared to Chinese losses, Burmese losses were light but considered in proportion to the population, they were heavy. The commanders were not convinced but Maha Thiha Thura, on his own responsibility, and without informing the king, demanded that the Chinese agree to the following terms:
- The Chinese would surrender all the sawbwas and other rebels and fugitives from Burmese justice who had taken shelter in Chinese territory;
- The Chinese would undertake to respect Burmese sovereignty over those Shan states that had been historically part of Burma;
- All prisoners of war would be released;
- The emperor of China and the king of Burma would resume friendly relations, regularly exchanging embassies bearing letters of good will and presents.
The Chinese commanders decided to agree to the terms. At Kaungton, on 13 December 1769 (or 22 December 1769), under a 7-roofed pyathat hall, 14 Burmese and 13 Chinese officers signed a peace treaty. The Chinese burned their boats and melted down their cannon. Two days later, as the Burmese stood to arms and looked down, starved Chinese soldiers marched sullenly away up the Taiping valley; they began to perish of hunger by thousands in the passes. The Emperor was not pleased with the treaty, and Fuheng died in July 1770 (aged 60) of malaria, which he contracted during his three-month invasion of Burma, when he got back to Beijing.