Wa State

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Wa State
Meung Vax
of Wa State
Coat of arms
Anthem: 我爱佤邦
("I love Wa State")
Projection showing Wa State in green and Myanmar (Burma) in dark grey
Wa State, as claimed by the UWSP (green),
within Myanmar (dark grey).
and largest city
22°10′N 99°11′E / 22.167°N 99.183°E / 22.167; 99.183
Official languagesnone
Recognised national languagesWa
Recognised regional languages
Working languages
Ethnic groups
Wa, Han, Dai, Lahu, Akha, and others
GovernmentOne-party socialist state[1]
• President
Bao Youxiang[2]
• Vice President
Xiao Mingliang[3]
• Independence declared from Myanmar
17 April 1989
• Autonomy granted by Myanmar
9 May 1989
• Creation of the Wa Self-Administered Division
20 August 2010
• Total
30,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi)
• Estimate
• Density
32.8/km2 (85.0/sq mi)
CurrencyRenminbi (north)
Thai baht (south)
Time zoneUTC+06:30 (MMT)
Driving sideright
Calling code+86 (0)879 (north)
+66 (0)53 (south)

Wa State (Wa: Meung Vax; Chinese: 佤邦; pinyin: Wǎ Bāng; Burmese: ဝပြည်နယ်) is an autonomous region within Myanmar (Burma). It is de facto independent from the rest of the country and has its own political system, administrative divisions and army.[5][6] However, Wa State recognises Myanmar's sovereignty over all of its territory,[7] and has, in return, been granted a high level of autonomy by the central government in Naypyidaw.[8] Under the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar the region is designated as the Wa Self-Administered Division of Shan State.[9] As a one-party socialist state ruled by the United Wa State Party,[1] Wa State is divided into three counties, two special districts, and one economic development zone. The administrative capital is Pangkham, formerly known as Panghsang. The name Wa is derived from the Wa ethnic group, who speak an Austroasiatic language.

Politics, society and law[edit]

Wa State is divided into northern and southern regions which are separated from one another, with the 13,000 km2 (5,000 sq mi) southern region bordering Thailand and consisting of 200,000 people.[7] The total area of the region controlled by Wa State is 17,000 km2 (6,600 sq mi). The political leaders of Wa State are mostly ethnic Wa people. The Wa State government emulates many political features of the government of the People's Republic of China, having a central committee and a central party known as the United Wa State Party. Whilst Wa State is highly autonomous from the control of the central government in Naypyidaw,[10][11] their relationship is based on peaceful coexistence and Wa State recognises the sovereignty of the central government over all of Myanmar.[7]

The working language of the Wa State government is Mandarin Chinese.[12][13][14] Southwest Mandarin and Wa are widely spoken by the population, with the language of education being Standard Chinese. Television broadcasts within Wa State are broadcast in both Mandarin and Wa. Commodities within Wa State are brought over from China, and the renminbi is commonly used for exchanges. China Mobile has cellular coverage over some parts of Wa State.[7]

The legal system in Wa State is based on the civil law system, with reference to the laws of China. However, there are still struggle sessions (公判大会), which have been abolished in China. After being sentenced to death, prisoners are sent directly to the execution ground.[15]


For a long time,[timeframe?] headman tribes were dispersed around the Wa mountainous area, with no unified governance. During the Qing dynasty, the region became separated from the tribal military control of the Dai people. British rule in Burma did not administer the Wa States[16] and the border with China was left undefined.[17]

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 mountain region 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 guerrilla groups exercised control with the support of the Communist Party of Burma.

During the 1960s, the Communist Party of Burma lost its base of operations within central Burma, and with the assistance of the Chinese communists, expanded within the border regions in the northeast. Many intellectual youths from China joined the Communist Party of Burma, and these forces also absorbed many local guerrillas.[18] 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 Communist Party of Burma. On 17 April 1989, Bao Youxiang's armed forces announced their separation from the Communist Party of Burma, and formed the United Myanmar Ethnicities Party, which later became the United Wa State Party. On 18 May, the United Wa State Army signed a ceasefire agreement with the State Law and Order Restoration Council, which replaced Ne Win's military regime following the 8888 Uprising.

Tensions between the central government and Wa state were heightened in 2009.[19] During this time, peace initiative proposals by Wa State were rejected by the Myanmar government.[20] The government warned on 27 April 2010 that the WHP program could push Myanmar and Wa State into further conflict.[21]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Wa State is divided into counties (Wa: gaeng; Mandarin: ), special districts (Wa: lūm; Mandarin: 特区), an economic development zone and an administrative affairs committee. Each county is further divided into districts (Wa: vēing; Mandarin: ).

Below these are township-level administrations: townships (Wa: ndaex eeng / yaong; Mandarin: ) and streets (Wa: laih; Mandarin: ).

Level County-level District-level Township Village
Special District
(lūm / 特区)
(laih / )

( / “jēng”)

(ndaex eeng / )


(yaong? / )

Economic Development Zone (经济开发区)
(gaeng / )
(ndaex laih / 街道)

(vēing / ဝဵင်း / )

Administrative Affairs
Committee (行政事务管理委员会)
Township (southern)
(yaong / )

In the table above, names in apostrophe are in Wa/Dai/Mandarin order. Avenue (ndaex laih / 街道) is found only once in Mong Maoe County; town ( / “jēng”) is found only once in Mōung Ping EDZ. Avenues and streets are metaphorical urban-type division name analogical to subdistricts of China and should not be understood literally. They are further subdivided into groups. Villages are rural counterparts of groups and are below townships. In southern Wa, townships are given the township identity () according to their Mandarin name yet not subdivided into villages with their Wa names indicate they are natural settlements (yaong / ), but might be a part of compound like ndaex eeng yaong XX (XX-settlement township / XX寨乡).

In general, the Wa names of divisions follow the Romance naming order. For example, Vēing Yaong Lēen means Yaong Lēen District and is a vēing (district) instead of a yaong (natural settlement). That of the town of Mōung Ping in Mōung Ping EDZ is an exception – it follows the Germanic naming order as "Mōung Ping Jēng" instead of "Jēng Mōung Ping". In the Wa language, x at the end of a syllable represents a glottal stop.

In the sections below, names in bold indicate county seats. Names with "quotation marks" are pinyin transcriptions of Mandarin while names in italics are Burmese transcriptions of Mandarin. Although Mandarin is one of the four working languages of Wa State, some Mandarin administrative names are non-canonical. For example, 班阳区 and 邦洋区 are two different transcriptions of the same official Wa or Dai name of Pang Yang District.

Northern area[edit]

Wa State's northern area is divided into three counties, two special districts, and one economic development zone. Each county is further divided into districts; there are 21 districts in total.

  • Mong Maoe County:
    1. Nax Vī (Nawi) District,
    2. Mōuig Nū District ("Gongmingshan"/Kaung Ming Sang District) and Mēng Hmae Avenue
    3. Bang Vāi District ("Shaopa" District),
    4. Dāoh Mīe District ("Gemai"/"Kunma" District),
    5. Yaong Lēen District,
    6. Ndūng Ngid ("Longtan") District,
    7. Qeng Mīang ("Yancheng"/Yiang Chen) District,
    8. Gon Māe("Yingpan"/Yin Pan) District,
    9. Man Doun District,
    10. Mōuig Raix ("Lianhe") District,
    11. Glong Ba District
  • Mōung Nēng County [zh], formerly Vēing Gāo County:
    12. Man Sīang District,
    13. Noung Kied District,
    13.1 Noung Kied Township, 6 villages
    13.2 Si Lōg Township, 4 villages
    13.3 Ndaex Gaeng (Vēing Gāo, Weng Kao, Wein) Township, 8 villages
    13.4 Noung Lai Sing Township, 8 villages
    14. Ba Lēen (Nāng Kang Vū) District,
    15. Nax Gāo District,
    16. Bāng Yāng (Pang Yang) District
  • Mōung Bōg County:
    17. Nām Pad District,
    18. Mōung Bōg District
    19. Mōung Ning District,
    20. Mōung Ga District,
    21. Houx Dao (Hotao) District
Special districts
  • Pangkham Special District (Lūm Bāng Kam): "Guanghong" (Guang Houng) Township, Na Lod Township, Man Pad ("Nanpa") Township, Dōng O Township, Yaong Dīng Township, Man Mao Township
  • Nām Dēeg Special District: Mgōng Lang (Nām Dēeg) Township and Nām Dēeg Street, Yaong Mox Township, Bīang Krom ("Bangkong") Township, Da Ai Township, "Lufang" Township, Nām Vēing Kam Township
Economic development zone
  • Mōung Ping Economic Development Zone, formerly Mōung Ping District of Mōung Bōg County: Mōung Ping Town, Mōung Ping Brim Township, "Donglong" (Dōung Lōung) Township, Yaong Krom ("Tuanjie") Township, Bāng Sax Jax Township, Kox Song Township

Wa State overlaps with seven de jure townships designated by the Burmese government. The geographic relationship between districts (second level) and special districts (first level) of Wa State and districts of Shan State are listed below:

Southern area[edit]

Wa State's southern area is not part of traditional Wa territory, but was granted in 1989 by the then-ruling Burmese military junta for the UWSA's cooperation in their efforts against drug warlord Khun Sa.[22] These territories were originally inhabited by the Austroasiatic Tai Loi peoples, but now include significant Lahu and Shan communities.

It is administrated by the Southern Administrative Affairs Committee (Wa: Mēng Vax Blag Jō): Wan Hoong (Mgōng Sam Soung) District, Huix Ox District, Yaong Kraox ("Kailong", Yaong Mgōng) District, Yaong Bang District, Mōung Jōd District, Yaong Mōuig ("Menggang"/ Num Mōuig) District, Kax Nax ("Huyue") District. Kax Nax ("Huyue") District seems to have been merged into Wan Hoong (Mgōng Sam Soung) District.

Geography and economy[edit]

Map of Wa State

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 Wa State was heavily reliant on opium production.[23] With Chinese assistance, there has been a move towards growing rubber and tea plantations.[24] Wa State cultivates 220,000 acres of rubber.[25] Due to the resettlement of residents from mountainous areas to fertile valleys,[26] there is also cultivation of wet rice, corn and vegetables. Dozens died during the resettlement due to disease and road accidents.[25] Wa State is economically dependent on China, which supports it financially and provides military and civilian advisors and weapons.[27][28] It shares 82 miles (133 km) of frontier with China.[29]

Illicit drug trade[edit]

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) was previously the largest narcotics trafficking organization in Southeast Asia.[30] The UWSA cultivated vast areas of land for the opium poppy, which was later refined to heroin. Methamphetamine trafficking was also important to the economy of Wa State.[25] The money from the opium was primarily used for purchasing weapons.

In August 1990, government officials began drafting a plan to end drug production and trafficking in Wa State.[31] According to an interview with Wa officials in 1994, Bao Youyi (Tax Kuad Rang; also known as Bao Youyu) became wanted by the Chinese police for his involvement in drug trafficking. As a result, Bao Youxiang and Zhao Nyi-Lai went to Cangyuan Va Autonomous County of China and signed the Cangyuan Agreement with local officials, which stated that, "No drugs will go into the international society (from Wa State); no drugs will go into China (from Wa State); no drugs will go into Burmese government-controlled areas (from Wa State)."[32] However, the agreement did not mention whether or not Wa State could sell drugs to insurgent groups.

In 1997, the United Wa State Party officially proclaimed that Wa State would be drug-free by the end of 2005.[31] With the help of the United Nations and the Chinese government, many opium farmers in Wa State shifted to the production of rubber and tea. However, some poppy farmers continued to cultivate the flower outside of Wa State.[33]

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.[34] In 2005, Wa State was declared by the UWSP a "drug-free zone" and the cultivation of opium was made illegal.[26][35]

A BBC presentation aired on 19 November 2016 showed the burning of methamphetamine, as well as a thriving trade in illegal animal parts.[36]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Hay, Wayne (29 September 2019). "Myanmar: No sign of lasting peace in Wa State". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 October 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) 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..."
  3. ^ "A United Wa State Army (UWSA) delegation led by Vice President Xiao Minliang, Bao Youliang and Zhao Guo-ang left Panghsang for Lashio today". democracy for Burma. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Wa Self-Administered Division WFP Myanmar". World Food Programme. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  5. ^ 29 December 2004, 佤帮双雄, Phoenix TV
  6. ^ Steinmüller, Hans (2018). "Conscription by Capture in the Wa State of Myanmar: acquaintances, anonymity, patronage, and the rejection of mutuality" (PDF). London School of Economics.
  7. ^ a b c d 13 October 2011, 缅甸佤邦竟然是一个山寨版的中国 Archived 26 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 军情观察
  8. ^ 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'."
  9. ^ "တိုင်းခုနစ်တိုင်းကို တိုင်းဒေသကြီးများအဖြစ် လည်းကောင်း၊ ကိုယ်ပိုင်အုပ်ချုပ်ခွင့်ရ တိုင်းနှင့် ကိုယ်ပိုင်အုပ်ချုပ်ခွင့်ရ ဒေသများ ရုံးစိုက်ရာ မြို့များကို လည်းကောင်း ပြည်ထောင်စုနယ်မြေတွင် ခရိုင်နှင့်မြို့နယ်များကို လည်းကောင်း သတ်မှတ်ကြေညာ". Weekly Eleven News (in Burmese). 20 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  10. ^ 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 Archived 6 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine, IDE-JETRO
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ Interactive Myanmar Map, The Stimson Center
  13. ^ Wa Archived 15 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Infomekong
  14. ^ General Background of the Wa. Quote: "The official languages (designated by the current UWSP administration) are Mandarin and Wa."
  15. ^ "死刑前最后一刻曝光:3名中国人在缅甸劫杀同胞被枪决". 重庆晨报. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  16. ^ Sir J. George Scott, Burma : a handbook of practical information. London 1906, p.
  17. ^ N Ganesan; Kyaw Yin Hlaing, eds. (1 February 2007). Myanmar: State, Society and Ethnicity. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 269. ISBN 978-981-230-434-6.
  18. ^ 佤邦歷史 Archived 1 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Wa State government
  19. ^ "Myanmar: Krieg mit Rebellen im Wa-Staat droht - entwicklungspolitik online". www.epo.de.
  20. ^ "Welcome shanland.org - BlueHost.com". www.shanland.org. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  21. ^ "Welcome shanland.org - BlueHost.com". www.shanland.org. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  22. ^ ""金三角"毒王 让缅、泰差点打起来". www.people.com.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  23. ^ Die Wa in Gefahr (German)
  24. ^ ""Xinhua General News Service: China develops more substitute crops for opium poppy in bordering countries"". Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
  25. ^ a b c "Myanmar's strongest ethnic armed group says drug label 'not fair'". Reuters. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  26. ^ a b BURMA NACHRICHTEN 4/2005, 25. Februar (German). 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."
  27. ^ China remains the UWSA's sole patron and arms supplier Archived 17 July 2012 at archive.today
  28. ^ "World Politics Watch: On Myanmar-China border, tensions escalate between SPDC, narco-militias – Michael Black". Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
  29. ^ "UWSA Talks Business, Drugs Cooperation with China". The Irrawaddy. 4 December 2012.
  30. ^ Lintner, Bertil. "The United Wa State Army and Burma's Peace Process" (PDF). United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  31. ^ a b "记者亲历金三角腹地佤邦:毒品造就强大武装_资讯_凤凰网". Phoenix New Media (in Chinese). 26 June 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  32. ^ China's dangerous neighbor Phoenix Weekly 2003
  33. ^ "China's Opium Substitution Policy in Burma and Laos – TransNational Institute" (PDF).
  34. ^ 缅甸第二特区佤邦,一切好象是中国的一个延伸, 15 October 2011.
  35. ^ "Myanmar Strategic Programme Framework" (PDF).
  36. ^ "Drugs, money and wildlife in Myanmar's most secret state". BBC News. 17 November 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2020.


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