Kokang (Chinese: 果敢; Pinyin: Guǒgǎn) was the only Burmese Chinese feudal state in Burma. It was founded by the Yang dynasty, a Chinese military house that fled with the Ming Dynasty to Yunnan Province in the mid-1600s and later migrated to the Shan State in eastern Burma. Today it is the First Special Region of Burma and still has a mostly ethnic Han Chinese population. The Salween River passes its western side and it shares a border with China's Yunnan Province in the east. Its total land area is around 2,700 km². The capital is Laukkai (Chinese: 老街; Pinyin: Lǎojiē).
As a side note, it was the Chinese government that provided them with arms and uniform to fight against the Burmese Communists.
Kokang Celebrate Liberation from Burmese Communists
By WAI MOE Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), a Kokang cease-fire group, started celebrations of its 20th anniversary of liberation from the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) on Wednesday in the Sino-Burmese border town of Laogai.
Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese military analyst on the Sino-Burmese Border who is close to the Kokang, said the MNDDA started the three-day anniversary period in northern Shan State.
A Chinese-style ceremony marks the opening of a school in Kokang territory in February. (Photo: www.kokang.net)
“About 4,000 to 5,000 people joined the celebration today, including special guests from China and alliance armed groups,” he said. “But officials from the Burmese junta were absent.”
“Kokang leader Peng Jiasheng (Burmese: Phon Kyar Shin) gave a 30-minute speech to a crowd at 8 a.m. at a stadium in Laogai,” he said.
Khuensai Jaiyen, the editor in chief of The Shan Herald Agency for News, told The Irrawaddy that representatives of Kachin and Shan armed groups, and Wa and Mongla representatives as well, were scheduled to attend the Kokang anniversary this week.
Twenty years ago, Kokang commanders in the army of the CPB performed a coup against the Community Party, mainly dominated by Burmans.
Aung Kyaw Zaw said that when the Kokang separated from the CPB there were an estimated 900 troops with Kokang commanders.
“But the Kokang partition from the CPB significantly wobbled the CPB leadership because the Kokang were well-know during the Communist military operations as well as their influential Chinese background,” he said.
About a month later, Wa troops, another military backbone of the Burmese Communists, performed a coup in Panghsang, headquarters of the CPB. Later, the Wa formed the United Wa State Army (UWSA). The UWSA is scheduled to hold its 20th anniversary of separation from the CPB on April 17.
The Kokang and Wa rebellions against the Burmese Communists turned a new page in Burma’s history by effectively dismantling the CPB, Burma’s biggest insurgent group, which had a significant impact on the Burmese army’s anti-insurgency operations.
Following of cease-fire, the Kokang, Wa, Mongla and New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK) formed an alliance group, the Peace and Democracy Front (PDF) in November 1989.
After a cease-fire with the Kokang and Wa, the Burmese military focused its offensive to win more cease-fire pledges and to isolate other insurgents in different parts of the country. Between 1989 to 1995, under the supervision of military intelligence chief Gen Khin Nyunt, the junta signed cease-fire agreements with 17 insurgent groups.
For nearly 20 years, there were internal conflicts among Kokang leaders. Some prominent commanders were killed or removed from the leaderships during the conflict. One Kokang leader was arrested by Burmese troops after the Kokang army split up, and later he died in prison.
“Although Kokang commanders were respected in battle [in the past], they split up. And then Kokang power was weaken. Burmese troops took over areas of the Kokang region, and now the Kokang are not as strong,” Khuensai Jaiyen said.
According to The Shan Herald Agency for News, the junta has established a Regional Operations Command (ROC) with seven infantry battalions in Kokang territory.
In recent months, the junta has pushed Burma’s ceasefire groups, including the Kokang and Wa, to participate in the forthcoming election in 2010. The junta reportedly encouraged them to give up their arms in the post-election period. So far, the Kokang and Wa have not announced their intentions on the election.
Ahead of the anniversary, Kokang leaders highlighted their community development plans during the past two decades and the benefits to the Kokang people.
However, Khuensai Jaiyen expressed skepticism on Kokang development efforts. He said Kokang leaders have benefited more than the Kokang people.
Along with the Wa, the Kokang are believed to be involved in the drug trade according to international anti-narcotic agencies. Kokang leaders claim its territory was drug free beginning in 2003.