In the autumn of 1773, the Panchen Lama of Tashilhunpo, Lobzang Paldan Yeshes, sent a letter to Warren Hastings in Calcutta. He was writing to ask for clemency on behalf of his vassal, the rajah of Bhutan, who had recently been defeated by the East India Company's soldiers in a border war. For some time, the officials of the company had been discussing how they might open relations with Tibet, and to Hastings this seemed the opportunity they had been waiting for.

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