Wa State

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Wa State
ဝပြည်နယ်
Mēng Vax
佤邦
A horizontal triband (blue, red, blue) with a white 9-pointed star in the center
Flag
Projection showing Wa in green and Burma in dark grey
Wa State, as claimed by the UWSA (green),
within Burma (dark grey).
Capital Pangkham
22°10′N 99°11′E / 22.167°N 99.183°E / 22.167; 99.183
Spoken languages
Government Military junta
 -  UWSA Commander-in-Chief Bao Youxiang[1]
 -  UWSA Deputy Commander-in-Chief Zhao Zhongdang
Independence from Burma
 -  Declared 17 April 1989 
 -  Recognition Unrecognized 
Currency Renminbi
Time zone MST (UTC+06:30)
Drives on the right
Calling code +95 73

Wa State (Wa: Mēng Vax or Meung Va; Chinese: 佤邦; pinyin: Wǎ Bāng; Burmese: ဝပြည်နယ်) is an unrecognised state in Burma (Myanmar) and is currently subsumed under the official Wa Special Region 2 of the Northern Shan State.[2][3] The administrative capital is Pangkham (Chinese: 邦康; pinyin: Bāngkāng, formerly known as Panghsang, 邦桑). The name Wa derives from the Wa ethnic group, who speaks a language in the Austroasiatic family of languages. Wa State has a population of an estimated 558,000. Wa State is an undefined area that encloses eastern Shan State.

Many of the Wa are animists, and a small proportion of the population follows a derivative of either Buddhism or Christianity. The Wa were once known as the "Wild Wa" by the British due to their practice of headhunting.[4]

Politics and society[edit]

Wa State is divided into northern and southern regions which are separated from one another, with the 13,000 square kilometre southern region bordering Thailand and consisting of 200,000 people. The total area of the region controlled by the Wa State is 17,000 square kilometres. Political leaders of the Wa State are mostly ethnic Wa people. The government of the Wa State emulates many political features of the government of China, having a Central Committee and a central party known as the United Wa State Party. Whilst the Wa State is de facto highly autonomous from the control of the central Myanmar government,[5][6] their relationship is based on peaceful coexistence and the Wa State recognises the sovereignty of the central government over all of Myanmar.[7]

The working language of the Wa State government is Chinese.[8][9][10] Television broadcasts within the Wa State are broadcast in Standard Chinese. Commodities within the Wa State are brought over from China, and the Renminbi is used for exchanges. China Mobile has cellular coverage over some parts of the Wa State.[7]

History[edit]

For a long time, headman tribes were dispersed around the Kawa mountain, with no unified governance. During the Qing Dynasty, the region became separated from the tribal military control of the ethnic Dai.

From the late 1940s, during the Chinese Civil War, remnants of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army retreated to territory within Burma as the communists took over mainland China. Within the region surrounding the Kawa mountain, Kuomintang forces of the Eighth Army 237 division and 26th Army 93 division held their position for two decades in preparation for a counterattack towards mainland China. Under pressure from the United Nations, the counterattack was cancelled and the army was recalled to northern Thailand and later back to Taiwan; however, some troops decided to remain within Burma. East of the Salween river, indigenous tribal guerilla groups exercised control with the support of the Burmese Communist Party.

During the 1960s, the Burmese Communist Party lost its base of operations within central Burma, and with the assistance of the Chinese communists, expanded within the border regions. Many intellectual youths from China joined the Burmese Communist Party, and these forces also absorbed many local guerillas.[11] The Burmese communists gained control over Pangkham, which became their base of operations.

At the end of the 1980s, the ethnic minorities of northeast Burma became politically separated from the Burmese Communist Party. On 17 April 1989, Bao Youxiang's armed forces announced their separation from the Burmese Communist Party, and formed the United Myanmar Ethnics Party, which later became the United Wa State Party. On 18 May, the Wa State and Myanmar military junta formed a ceasefire agreement.

Tensions between the central government and Wa state were heightened in 2009.[12] During this time, peace initiative proposals by the Wa State were rejected by the Myanmar government.[13] The government warned on 27 April 2010 that the WHP program could push Myanmar and the Wa State into further conflict.[14]

Communism[edit]

After the Communist Party of Burma lost control of its bases in central Burma in the late 1960s, it re-established itself in the northeast including Wa State, with the support of China. The Wa, like other ethnic groups were fighting for autonomy from Burma, and supported the CPB. They eventually rebelled along with the Kokang against the Burmese communist leadership, which was forced into exile across the Chinese border, at the time of the 8888 Uprising in mainland Burma. Following the subsequent collapse of the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) rule under Ne Win in Burma, the WNO made ceasefire and peace agreements with the new military regime, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).

Subdivisions[edit]

Wa State comprises seven districts (townships) of what the Myanmar government officially deems as the Shan State. Internally, Wa State administers 15 districts within its territory.

Geography and economy[edit]

The region is mainly mountainous, with deep valleys. The lowest points are approximately 600 metres above sea level, with the highest mountains over 3000 metres. Initially the Wa State was heavily reliant on opium production.[15] With Chinese assistance, there has been a move towards growing rubber and tea plantations.[16] Due to the resettlement of residents from mountainous areas to fertile valleys,[17] there is also cultivation of wet rice, corn and vegetables. Wa State is economically dependent on China, which supports it financially and provides military and civilian advisors and weapons.[18][19] It shares 82 miles (133 km) of frontier with China.[20]

Illicit drug trade[edit]

Using its 30,000 personnel, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) is the largest narcotics trafficking organization in Southeast Asia.[citation needed] It was once allied with the Communist Party of Burma (4,000 soldiers). The UWSA cultivates vast areas of land for the opium poppy which is later refined to heroin. The money from the opium is used for weapons. Although the Burmese government has begun taking measures to decrease the production of such drugs, it is an arduous task due to corruption at high levels in the government and a lack of infrastructure to carry out operations.[21] In 2005, Wa State was declared by the UWSP as a drug-free zone and the cultivation of opium was prohibited.[22][23]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Quote: "Officially, Bao Youxiang is still the President of the Wa State Government and Commander-in-Chief of the United Wa State Army," said a Thai security officer, a ten-year veteran on the Thai-Burma border
  2. ^ 2004-12-29, 佤帮双雄, Phoenix TV
  3. ^ Soldiers of Fortune, Time Magazine. Quote: In return for keeping the peace, the UWSA was given full autonomy over what the regime termed "Special Region No. 2," which Bao christened "Wa state."
  4. ^ "Headhunting days are over for Myanmar's "Wild Wa"", Reuters, Sep 10, 2007.
  5. ^ 2009年9月, 不透明さ増すミャンマー情勢:2010年総選挙に向けて, IDE-JETRO
  6. ^ 2011年11月15日, 地図にない街、ワ州潜入ルポが凄い『独裁者の教養』, エキサイトレビュー
  7. ^ a b 2011-10-13, 缅甸佤邦竟然是一个山寨版的中国, 军情观察
  8. ^ Interactive Myanmar Map, The Stimson Center
  9. ^ Wa, Infomekong
  10. ^ General Background of the Wa. Quote: The official languages (designated by the current UWSP administration) are Mandarin and Wa.
  11. ^ 佤邦歷史, Wa State government
  12. ^ Myanmar: Krieg mit Rebellen im Wa-Staat droht
  13. ^ Naypyitaw turns down Wa’s latest proposal
  14. ^ Shan rebel leader warns Burma Army
  15. ^ http://www.asienhaus.de/public/archiv/focus26-045.pdf
  16. ^ "China develops more substitute crops for opium poppy in bordering countries"
  17. ^ http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/BN2005-02-25.html
  18. ^ China remains the UWSA's sole patron and arms supplier
  19. ^ China Connection
  20. ^ http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/20470
  21. ^ 缅甸第二特区佤邦,一切好象是中国的一个延伸, 苗疆风情网, 2011-10-15.
  22. ^ [2] Quote: Angaben der UN-Organisation zur Drogenbekämpfung UNODC und weiterer Beobachter zufolge droht durch die Ausführung des Plans zur Eliminierung des Opiumanbaus bis 2005 eine ernste humanitäre Krise der vom Opiumanbau abhängigen Bauern.
  23. ^ http://www.unodc.org/pdf/myanmar/myanmar_strategic_programme_framework.pdf

References[edit]

  • Hideyuki Takano, The Shore Beyond Good and Evil: A Report from Inside Burma's Opium Kingdom (2002, Kotan, ISBN 0-9701716-1-7)
  • Andrew Marshall, The Trouser People: a Story of Burma in the Shadow of the Empire. London: Penguin; Washington: Counterpoint, 2002. ISBN 1-58243-120-5.
  • The Wa State, Burma The National Strategy Forum Review
  • "Wa leader: UWSA able to defend itself". panglong.org. Shan Herald. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  • Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2011). Traders of the Golden Triangle. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B006GMID5.
  • Midnight in Burma. Ein Roman über die Tochter eines Generals im Wa-Staat, nicht gerade historisch mit vielen historischen Fehlern, aber sehr spannend geschrieben, Alex O'Brien. Asia Books ISBN 974-8303-58-6 (2001).
  • Dr. Ba Nyan, Who are the Wa?

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°10′N 99°00′E / 22.167°N 99.000°E / 22.167; 99.000