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August 29, 2009

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Splintered Sunrise

I'd be very wary about taking on the Wa. The Brits tried to map the Wa country around 1900, but anyone they sent in there tended to lose his head. It's pretty much the definition of wild country, and if Yangon and Beijing have never really been able to subdue the area, some accomodation with the tribesmen would seem the sensible way to go.

OT, but what do you make of the Dalai's planned visit to Taiwan? My instinct is that it's a bit of a stunt on the part of the DPP.

jamie

"My instinct is that it's a bit of a stunt on the part of the DPP."

I don't know if the DPP were behind the invite, though most of the affected area is DPP controlled at local level. But Ma and the KMT seem to have anticipated this by saying he's perfectly welcome. And there's been nothing from Beijing but ritual protests so far, AFAIK. The pro-China people on Taiwain seem to have learned to roll with the punches over the past few years.

Splintered Sunrise

Ah, right. Taiwan is not really my strong suit.

Just looking at The Dictionary of Language, under the chapter for "Wa":

"Facts on the Wa country, including its population, are still hard to assemble. Outsiders have not found it easy to get to grips with Wa political philosophy. The British, for example, who annexed the region in the 1890s, could not understand why the village rulers (often given the Shan title Sawbwa) would not identify themselves to strangers. Sometimes they disappeared; sometimes they were actually there among the villagers, but unidentifiable...

"A further problem has been the prevalence of headhunting. During a China-Burma border delineation in 1900 Wa warriors captured two British heads in a daring raid near a Chinese market town. These two heads were still objects of worship sixty years later."

Doesn't sound like the sort of territory that would really be amenable to tatmadaw control - the autonomous militia system may have been the most sensible option.

jamie

One group which did manage to have some kind of influence over the WA were the old Burmese Communist Party who led them in the fight against Yangon for many years until 1989. That's how the CPC managed to gain influence over them as well. And most of the economyin the Wa area is ethnically Chinese dominated as well. I'm not sure what Beijing's current policy on the Wa is, and I guess that most of it would be left to the Yunnan Provincial government. But I bet it's a priority not to have streams of Wa refugees coming over their side of the border.

Turns out that the DPP did invite the Dalai to Taiwan after all, but he's not meeting any politicians from either party. Some pro-China fringe groups are protesting his visit, but a lot of these seem to be conneted to the KMT's ultra fringe, so I gess the idea is to make the leadership look moderate and sensible.

Splintered Sunrise

Lordy, KMT fenqing... *shakes head*

jamie

A lot of them are apparently cadre from the Laodongdang, the Taiwan Labour Party, which was founded back in 1987.The KMT were worried at that time about pro-democratic/pro-independence activism, so after thirty years of suppressing all labour activism a socialist party was suddeny allowed to spring into operation, duly leftwing on most issues but replicating exactly the militant KMT on the reunification issue. They used to be a ubiquitous part of the tour that KMT gave visiting politicians back in the late eighties/early nineties.

That project obviously didn't work, but evidently they're still around.

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