Shweli River (Burmese: ရွှေလီမြစ်) is a river in Myanmar (Burma). Also known as Nam Mao in Shan and Lung Chuan Chiang in Chinese, it forms part of the boundary between Burma and China. It is one of the tributaries of the country's chief river, the Ayeyarwady, and arises in Yunnan Province of China. It flows through northern Shan state and Sagaing Division, and enters the Ayeyarwady at Inywa, 60 km north of Tagaung and south of Katha.
Tai people, known as Shan in Burma, migrated from Yunnan into Burma along the Shweli. Maw Shans from Mong Mao settled in the Shweli valley, and raided and invaded the Bamar heartlands down the Shweli, but King Anawrahta of Bagan (1044–1077) reduced them to a vassal state. The fall of the kingdom of Bagan in the 13th century, however, saw a resurgence of Shan power, although King Bayinnaung (1551–1581) of the Taungoo Dynasty succeeded in pacifying them to establish Burmese suzerainty once and for all. King Hsinbyushin (1763–1776) of the Konbaung Dynasty also successfully repelled Chinese invasions (1765-9) that advanced down the Shweli and Myitnge river valleys.
The territory south of the Shweli, about 500–600 km2, north of Namtu and from Namkham to the west, was under the control of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) from 1968 to 1986. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) controlled the area north of the Shweli, and the Shan State Army (SSA) and the Palaung State Liberation Army (PSLA) farther south. The Shweli river valley and the hills around Momeik (Mong Mit) and Mogok with its ruby mines had been old CPB strongholds since the 1950s. Momeik itself was captured by the Communists in 1977. The Burmese Army recaptured the territory in early 1987, and subsequently opened up border trade with China.
Flora and fauna
There are extensive marshes on both banks of the Shweli at the confluence with the Ayeyarwady. Hills are covered with broad-leaved species of Terminalia and Shorea trees. Rhododendron edgeworthii, of the finest foliage and flowers ranging in colour from white to white flushed pink or pink, sometimes with a yellow blotch, was part of a collection made in 1997 on the Shweli - Salween divide on the Yunnan border with Burma.
White-winged Wood Duck (Cairina scutulata), an endangered species of forest duck, and the Sarus Crane Grus antigone are native to the Shweli river. The Gharial Gavialis gangeticus, a crocodilian, was last spotted in 1927. The Irrawaddy Dolphin has been known to reach the upper tributaries of the Ayeyarwady including the Shweli.
Trade and commerce
Muse is connected to Ruili on the Chinese side, and a roaring trade in goods and services was engaged in across the "Gun Bridge", so called because of the armaments transported from China to the military government of Burma. The old bridge was replaced by a new wider one in 2005. Gems especially jade and produce, and illicit heroin, are exported in exchange for cheap motorcycles and household goods from China.
More recently, Chinese hybrid rice called sinn shweli has been introduced by the military authorities to the local farmers as part of the opium eradication drive, most of the crop to be exported back to China.
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- Shweli River Google map GeoNames
- Shan State map R4 = Shweli River Asterism
- Sagaing Division map R3 = Shweli River Asterism
- Photo of the "Gun Bridge" over the Shweli Renaud Egreteau
- 3rd Destruction of Narcotic Drugs Ceremony, 26 November 1999 myanmar-narcotic.net