Kokang

   A region of northeastern Shan State, east of the Salween (Thanlwin) River and adjacent to the border with China, which since the 17th century has been populated by Chinese who had been loyal to the Ming Dynasty and opposed the Manchu conquest of their country. For most of its history, Kokang was an autonomous state, ruled by the Yang family, the Yang patriarch assuming the title of heng, or ruler. Kokang came under British jurisdiction following the Anglo-Chinese Treaty of 1897 but was so remote from the center of colonial power that its autonomy was largely unimpaired. During World War II, the Yang heng supported Allied operations against the Japanese, and in 1947, on the eve of Burma's independence, was recognized by the British as a sawbwa.
   Kokang is a poor, mountainous area, where soils are poor; for generations, the most important crop has been opium. After Kuomintang (Guomindang) irregulars from Yunnan Province entered Shan State in 1950, Kokang farmers began cultivating opium poppies in large quantities for export. Olive Yang (Yang Jinxiu), who was de facto ruler of Kokang from 1960 to 1962, allied herself with the Kuomintang to bring opium to the border with Thailand and international markets. Another important figure in the drug economy of Kokang was Lo Hsing-han, who served under Olive Yang, later cooperated with the Ne Win government as commander of a Ka Kwe Ye militia, and earned a reputation as "king of the Golden Triangle" before being jailed and sentenced to death in Burma in the mid-1970s (he was released in a 1980 amnesty). After Olive Yang was arrested by the government in 1963, her brother, Jimmy Yang (Yang Zhensheng), organized the insurgent Kokang Revolutionary Force.
   Between 1968 and 1989, Kokang was under the control of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), but in early 1989 Kokang troops, along with those in other communist-dominated areas, mutinied against the CPB leadership; under Pheung Kya-shin (Peng Jia-sheng) and his brother Pheung Kya-fu (Peng Jiafu) they established a new armed force, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MDNAA), which signed a cease-fire with the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Lo Hsing-han served as go-between, facilitating negotiations between the Pheung brothers and SLORC Secretary-1 Khin Nyunt. The agreement enabled the MNDAA to expand opium and heroin production and export, although the Kokang armed force's activities in this area were surpassed by the United Wa State Army in the neighboring Wa districts and along the Thai-Burma border during the 1990s. Opium eradication policies of the State Peace and Development Council have encountered some success in Kokang because divisions within the Kokang leadership make it easier for the military regime to exert pressure.
   See also Panthays.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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