Myanmar in the Dragon’s Shadow: Chinese Patronage and Ascent of the United Wa State Party

By Jason Huang, Northwestern University

This article appeared in CJFP's Winter 2024 publication.

In 2013, a report byJane’s Information Group[1]  claimed that China had delivered two Mil Mi-17 ‘Hip’ military helicopters armed with TY-90 (Tianyan-90) air-to-air missiles to the United Wa State Army (UWSA), with three more on the way.[1] In February 2020, the UWSA confirmed the presence of helicopters within its ranks, though claimed that they were for civilian purposes only.[2] Some brigades of the UWSA are armed with QBZ-95 assault rifles, the same modern rifle currently in service within China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). FN-6 (Feinu-6) Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) augmented with radar and first-generation missiles guard Wa skies around its de-facto capital of Pangkham, while HJ-8 Red Arrow anti-tank missiles have replaced Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs) in the UWSA’s anti-armor units.[3] NORINCO howitzers, jeep-mounted guns, and surface-to-surface missiles round out its modern artillery and ZFB-05 ‘Xinxing’ armored personnel carriers have allowed the UWSA to field mechanized infantry. Considering the quantity and modernity of its Chinese-supplied arms, it may be surprising to know that the UWSA is not the armed forces of any internationally recognized nation. Instead, it is the military wing of the United Wa State Party (UWSP) and, with 30,000 soldiers, the largest and strongest of Myanmar’s Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), rebel armies fighting for autonomy or independence along much of the nation’s periphery. Since the 2021 Myanmar coup d’état resulted in the Tatmadaw[2]  overthrowing the democratically elected National League for Democracy (NLD), all eyes have turned to the UWSA as a powerful potential player who might tip the scales in the current internal conflict. Besides its military might, the Wa State is, at least compared to neighboring EAO-held regions, stable and well-developed, with the Chinese not only providing weaponry but also investment and technology. Chinese support for the UWSP is predicated on pragmatism and three factors that set the Wa apart from other EAOs: its sophisticated dual state-military structure organized alongMarxist-Leninist and Maoist principles[3] , its role as a regional power controlling a network of proxy EAOs, and its control over a geopolitically strategic border territory.

Though the Wa have recently risen to prominence among the ethnic minorities of Myanmar, the early origins of the group are not well known. Their myth system provides an autochthonous claim to their desire for autonomy, with their ethnic origin traced to two tadpoles, Ya Htawm and Ya Htai, who lived in the lake Nawn Hkeo, generally believed to be in the northeast of their currently controlled territory.[4] The Wa people have appeared sporadically in the written records of imperial Chinese historians, and later British ethnologists. Over time, their diaspora was broken up, with populations that now live in northern Thailand and China’s Yunnan province known as the “tame Wa,” and the population within the rugged Shan States of Myanmar known as the “wild Wa.” While the “tame Wa” was successfully assimilated into regional polities, the “wild Wa” remained mostly stateless, perhaps due to their fearsome reputation as headhunters, a fact frequently recorded in British sources.[5] Thus, the border between British Burma and Qing China was only demarcated in the late 19th century, with the northern stretch of the Shan states and Kokang, an ethnically Han Chinese region that had been under Chinese rule for centuries, placed under British colonial administration, later to be inherited by newly independent Myanmar. This loosely governed frontier territory would prove to be difficult to bring under governmental control. The British had amalgamated the Shan States, which included Wa and Karen-ruled areas, into a territorial unit called the Federated Shan States, under the loose control of a British commissioner and composed of polities ruled by local saophas, or hereditary chieftains. Local rule would be curtailed, but autonomy was offered to these frontier regions within the newly independent Union of Burma. However, any progress toward a federal structure was halted with the establishment of military general Ne Win’s Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma in 1962.  The new military-controlled central government in Rangoon would attempt to forcibly bring ethnic-minority areas under national control, seeking a military solution as opposed to a political one.

During this transition period from World War Two into the Cold War, the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) was also shaping events within domestic Burmese politics. The CPB had played a major role in leading the guerilla campaign against the Japanese occupation, and it was one of the founders of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), the dominant political party in post-war Burma. However, the CPB would be wracked with internal dissent which prevented it from capitalizing on its post-war popularity. In 1946, a militant faction calling itself the Red Flag Communist Party split from the CPB and launched a failed insurgency against the AFPFL government. Then in 1948, after the introduction of theZhdanov Doctrine [4] by the Soviet Union a year earlier, the CPB itself took a more militant stance, resulting in a leadership reshuffle and the denouncement of its earlier, more passive Browderist orientation.[6] In that same year, the CPB’s military arm, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as well as ethnic rebels, launched an uprising against the government and initially managed to gain much land, even being able to hold Mandalay for a couple of weeks.[7] By 1950 to 1951, government forces had managed to retake most urban areas and pushed the disorganized CPB-PLA back to rural guerilla zones. Further campaigns eroded CPB strength throughout the nation and from 1951 onwards, CPB hopes were pinned on support from the newly established People’s Republic of China (PRC). China offered the communists safe harbor and political and military training but declined to send arms for fear of jeopardizing its relationship with the Burmese government.[8] From 1960 to 1961, Sino-Burmese ties reached a high point, culminating with a joint military campaign that drove Chinese Nationalist remnants out of the Shan States. This military intervention would prove the start of a continued Chinese presence in this crucial border region. In 1962, Ne Win took power in a coup d’état, which ushered in a new round of ethnic rebellion and communist insurgency, now with the full support of the Communist Party of China (CPC). 

It is from this point on that the history of the Wa people and the CPB would become intertwined and propel the Wa on its rise to regional dominance. With the promise of modern Chinese weaponry, the CPB was able to recruit local warlords into its service, starting with the Kokang Chinese. The CPC also augmented CPB-PLA forces with Chinese manpower: in the form of Red Guards, some eager to spread the world revolution and others eager to escape the tumult of the Cultural Revolution.[9]  In 1969, the CPB entered the Wa Hills and gained a foothold by recruiting two local warlords, Zhao Yilai, and the future president of the Wa State, Bao Youxiang, before occupying the rest of the territory.[10] CPB manpower was now swelled by Wa tribesmen, who proved to be effective fighters, though the officer ranks of the CPB-PLA were still dominated by ethnic Burmese and Chinese communists. It is important to note though that many of these new ethnic soldiers of the CPB, including the Wa, were not communists, despite the best efforts of the CPB-PLA’s commissars and party propaganda wings. Many had joined due to their shared animosity towards the military government and the enticing offer of modern weaponry for their forces. 

After a failed attempt to cross the Salwen River in 1972, the tide turned against the CPB, and government forces managed to contain the communists in the mountainous Shan States bordering China.[11] During this period, the CPB consolidated control over its remaining territory, and the party managed to establish an efficient civil administration with the aid of Chinese-trained party members. In the Wa Hills, the CPB banned headhunting and reorganized the territory into districts, townships, and villages, each being assigned communist governors.[12]  Chinese agricultural experts attempted to introduce high-land wheat to replace opium, and when this initiative failed ,which resulted in famine, the CPB was able to mobilize its stockpiles at Pangshang to alleviate the crisis.[13] However, events in the PRC and the wider communist world led to a reduction in aid to the CPB in the 1980s. This resulted in a breakdown in the infrastructure and civil administration of the region, leading to the closure of schools, clinics, and other public services. Finally in 1989, coinciding with the collapse of communist power throughout the world, the CPB government was overthrown by its ethnic minority soldiers. The Wa stormed the party headquarters at Pangshang, seized the armory and broadcasting station, and destroyed communist paraphernalia. Their resulting seizure of power led to the formation of the UWSP, with the former Wa foot soldiers forming the UWSA. Behind the scenes, there was speculation of Chinese involvement in the downfall of their former comrades. During the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening Up led him to improve ties with the Burmese government, with him using Chinese support to the CPB as leverage in negotiations. During this period, and after the collapse, the Chinese government provided asylum and pensions to the Burmese communists, keeping them in a comfortable house arrest for the rest of their lives and thereby preventing any rebuilding of the party.

For the Chinese, the UWSP offered one large benefit over their CPB predecessors: they were no longer committed communists. For the new pragmatic Chinese government which no longer exported world revolution, dogmatic Maoism was a liability to entry onto the world stage and stability of neighboring markets.[14] With the UWSP, the Chinese were thus able to use the same strategies and build on the same relationships they had with the CPB, without having to manage the ideological aversion the CPB had with the Burmese government. The UWSP did not aspire towards national rule and instead prioritized only autonomy and ethnic self-interest, meaning that they could serve both as an imposing military presence but also as an entity able to negotiate and make concessions with the central government in Yangon should the Chinese wish for it. Further Chinese support came due to the UWSP’s unique stability in the tumultuous region, which can be attributed to its strong party state-military structure. In the modern day, the UWSP still maintains its inherited CPB hierarchical political structure, complete with its own Politburo, Central Committee, and the same district, township, and village organization established by the communists.[15] Swedish journalist and political analyst Bertil Lintner, stresses this communist heritage in his explanation of the Wa’s strong administrative organization: “The basic setup that has emerged since the mutiny is, in essence, Leninist… its organizational structure is more or less the same as that of the old CPB.  The UWSP remains a Leninist-style vanguard party with only 10,000 of the approximately 500,000 inhabitants in the area it controls being members.”[16] 

Also inherited from Marxist-Leninist doctrine was strict control over the flow of information. The UWSP, first with seized CPB equipment, and then with modern Chinese telecommunication towers, is able to spread the party’s message to a wide audience. The party is relatively savvy with its dissemination of news, circulating information through social media such as WeChat, as well as through the Wa News Agency.[17] However, the relative difficulty and obscurity of this information to the West have provided the Wa with a sort of shroud of secrecy.  While, as historianAndrew Ong argues[5] , this has led to the mischaracterization of the Wa State by the Western and Burmese press, certainly the Chinese are receptive to working with a partner that keeps a tight lid over sensitive internal affairs and uses Chinese equipment and platforms to disseminate party propaganda. Furthermore, historian Thomas Kramer notes that in contrast with this strong central governance of the UWSP, the leadership capacity of local governing bureaus is weak due to a lack of literacy and funds among lower-ranked bureaucrats.[18]  While this impairs effective civil governance, it plays little role in the stability of the state in the long run, as the UWSA exerts tight control over local populations such that there is little room for dissent or self-organization. This handicap may even serve as a draw for continued Chinese support. With the loss of the educated Burmese and Chinese cadres of the CPB, the UWSP is more dependent on China to provide advice and management. If the UWSP wanted to ease dependency on Chinese support, the rebuilding of an administrative class qualified to fill these positions would, just like it was with the CPB, still be dependent on party members being sent to China for training.

These deficiencies thus only serve to further Wa ties with China, which are already extensive as a result of the continued Chinese presence in the area from the CPB days. Due to the language barrier between the myriad of ethnic minorities living under Wa State control, Mandarin Chinese has emerged as the lingua franca of the region.[19] Even in the Wa language itself, which the UWSP maintains official usage alongside Mandarin to strengthen its claim of autonomy, Chinese influence is visible. Chinese loanwords pervade the Wa language for both modern and governmental terms, despite the UWSP’s attempts to create a standardized lexicon.[20]  Even one of the Wa scripts in usage within the area was created by Chinese communists in the 1950’s. Local trade is done using Chinese renminbi, not the Burmese kyat, while mobile networks and even the time zone are aligned with Beijing.[21] For the Wa, at least before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sino-Myanmar border had proven porous, with many individuals able to find work in Chinese factories even though they do not possess any sort of identification cards.[22] Much of the exports of the Wa State, mainly rubber, tin ore, and sugarcane, also find their way into neighboring Chinese markets.[23] In light of both the extensive political and economic integration into the broader Chinese sphere, the Wa cannot decouple from the Chinese without suffering the same fate as its CPB predecessors went through in the 1980s. 

This administrative success, in comparison to the poor state of neighboring EAOs, can be attributed to the absolute control exerted by the dual party-military structure of the region.  This serves to bolster Chinese confidence in the continued viability of the Wa state in the long term.  The UWSA is a crucial pillar of both the Wa State’s identity, but also its economic success. The UWSA not only plays an important role in quelling public unrest, but it also plays an active part in the expansion of the plantation economy of the Wa State. UWSA commanders, working in conjunction with local administrators, utilize their military power to force local villagers to cede land for the creation of plantations. These plantations are modeled after modern examples in neighboring China, utilizing monocultures to increase yield at the detriment of the local environment.[24] Villagers are also reorganized along military lines to provide both corvee and paid labor to man these enterprises. As historian Steinmuller writes, “Such ‘capture’ of local populations is often accompanied by some measure of care for the same populations: for instance, followers are provided with housing, often built in uniform style as newly ‘planned villages,’ sometimes even with local schools, and some social support in emergencies.”[25]  Highways are then built, using Chinese machinery and technology, to link the various townships together and to Chinese border crossings, further improving both military and commercial logistics.[26] While these plantations are created under military coercion, their formation does bring some sort of development to the locals. This carrot and stick method plays a role in a larger positive cycle that fuels Wa State development. Stability, maintained by the overwhelming force of the UWSA, allows for investment, machinery, and technology transfer from China.[27] This results in improved infrastructure and development of production chains, which improves the efficiency of the plantations, the profits and political power of the local officials, and local living conditions. This then incentivizes the UWSP and regional UWSA units to continue their forcible expansion of the plantation economy. Meanwhile, businesses across the border in China can access Wa natural resources at competitive prices, which further promotes the integration of the Wa and provincial Yunnan economies. This leaves behind an oppressive living environment, but one that is stable and profitable in comparison to war-torn neighboring districts, which lends legitimacy and popular support to both the party and its armed wing.

Militarism within the Wa State is not only limited to the economy. Though they play a heavy-handed role in the maintenance and consolidation of UWSP control, the UWSA has come to serve as a fundamental pillar of Wa ethnic identity. Steinmuller describes Wa State unity as stemming from what he terms “para-nationalism.” [6]  As defined by Steinmuller,“para-nationalism”[7]  is not necessarily based on ethnic or cultural nationalism, but rather the pursuit of a distinct national identity by a non-state actor within a larger nation-state– in this case, the UWSA. Military control is thus important in allowing the Wa to jostle with the Tatmadaw and rival EAOs. The UWSA’s control over territory, natural resources, and local governance structures also contributes to the establishment of a parallel state apparatus within the Wa State as well. A majority of the male population is conscripted into the military and almost all local officials are members as well. As Steinmuller notes during his travels within Wa State, “Villagers commonly wear military fatigues and regularly have to participate in compulsory labor organized by local administrators and army, and at every level of government, there are rural militias that organize regular military training.”[28] Steinmuller further notes that, in a region that lacks universal schooling and a lack of political penetration by the UWSP, the military is the closest organization there is to providing a standardized culture. The military teaches conscripts how to communicate in Chinese and a standardized dialect of Wa and it is the propaganda units of these army divisions that provide exposure to a standardized ethnic Wa culture approved by the UWSP.[29] Considering the extensive Chinese support and training provided to maintain the army’s strength, which plays a crucial role in propping up UWSP control and the wealth of the Wa elite, the Chinese must recognize that their relationship with the UWSA may be their most important link to maintaining control of the Wa State. The Wa State, in turn, uses Chinese aid to keep its privileged position as an untouchable and stable EAO and to continue developing its territory.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Wa though is their role as a regional power with proxies of its own. The Wa maintained relations not only with China after the 1989 mutiny but also with the newly formed EAOs, as well as forming alliances with various other ones within the Shan States. One of its more important allies is the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), formed by the Kokang Chinese units in the aftermath of the 1989 mutiny, and which now comprises a force of 5,000 soldiers.[30] Other allies include the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), with a force of 5,000 soldiers, the Arakan Army (AA), with a force of 3,000 soldiers, and the National Democratic Army– Eastern Shan State Army (NDAA-ESS), with a force of 3,000 soldiers.[31] Combined with the UWSA’s own 30,000 men, this alliance brings a force of around 46,000 troops, a sizable army capable of posing a threat to regional Tatmadaw divisions. In a policy reminiscent of the CPB, the UWSA’s control over this alliance of EAOs is based on its access to Chinese arms, which it either gifts or sells cheaply to its allies.[32] Thus, the UWSA serves as a sort of Chinese representative in the region. The Chinese deal almost solely with the UWSA, and the arms it provides flow downward to these proxies.  Thus, by cultivating close ties with the UWSA, the CPC holds sway not only in the Wa Hills but across a large swathe of the Shan States.

  China is very careful about the image it presents, and it is believed that arms to the UWSA do not pass through the Sino-Burmese border but are instead brought in across the Mekong River from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR).[33] This dispersed military alliance thus serves to provide plausible deniability for both the UWSP and China for any attacks in their interest. Despite its strength, the UWSA very rarely engages in any sustained combat.  This can be seen most clearly in the context of the current internal struggle within the nation.  While the UWSA, as usual, has remained neutral, the MNDAA has a history of active conflict with the government, and the current conflict is no different. With its Chinese weapons and training experience, the UWSA is now arming and training the People’s Defense Force (PDF), the armed wing of the exiled National Unity Government (NUG), that has formed to resist the 2021 coup.[34] Thus, in this way, the UWSA and the CPC can put pressure on and weaken the military government to their benefit, without having to intervene directly at the cost of Wa manpower and Chinese political neutrality. The military government itself cannot do anything, as the threat of the UWSA entering the conflict on the side of the PDF and other combatant EAOs, or the loss of already tenuous Chinese economic and diplomatic ties may prove to be too much for the overstretched Tatmadaw to handle.

As described, the relationship between the UWSP and the Chinese is a unique one, though still reminiscent of the patronage between the CPB and PRC. The Wa does have one trump card that the ideologically troublesome CPB did not: the Chinese need the Wa as much as the Wa need the Chinese. The Shan States are a geopolitically strategic area, rich in natural resources, and an important buffer for China’s Yunnan province against the turmoil and instability that is modern-day Myanmar. The PRC’s relationship with the UWSP allows it to project its influence into northern Myanmar. The Chinese also have a vested interest in addressing opium and heroin production within the Golden Triangle, of which agriculture within the Shan States provide a significant amount of supply for laboratories within northern Thailand.  The UWSP was once heavily involved in the drug trade, with it providing a crucial source of funds during the 1990s.[35] In fact, this early infusion of drug money may be responsible for the sudden boom in Wa infrastructure, compared with the slow pace of development under the CPB, which was mostly reluctant to enter the drug trade. Lintner notes that the modern-day Wa State runs “409 schools compared with only 20 in 1989, and 26 hospitals, up from four at the time of the mutiny.”[36] However, contrary to Western media, Kramer believes that the Wa are sincere in their war on drugs and their subsequent crackdowns. Kramer instead lays the blame on Chinese syndicates and believes that alienation of the Wa would only drive the UWSP back into their arms.[37] This viewpoint appears to be the one shared by the Chinese. The Chinese have historically attempted to crack down on opium cultivation within the CPB-controlled Wa Hills with the introduction of wheat as a cash crop, as mentioned in a paragraph above. Now, the Chinese have taken a more indirect approach. Chinese promotion of the plantation economy and economic support have allowed the UWSP to wage a war against drugs through improved living conditions. New opportunities for farmers and workers have led to a further decrease in the drug trade, as well as having stimulated the border economy. 

Besides the crackdown on drugs, the Shan States play a surprisingly big role in China’s future national security concerns as well. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), started under President Xi Jinping, has included Myanmar within the economic corridor’s framework, though progress remains to be seen considering the sudden nature of the military coup. Myanmar is primarily important for its maritime location, with the Chinese eyeing improving port capacity at the Kyaukpyu Port in Rakhine State.[38] Access to the Indian Ocean via this port has both economic and military ramifications for the Chinese, who are attempting to reduce vulnerabilities in their trade due to dependence on the Strait of Malacca.[39] Of course, any cargo that docks at Kyaukpyu destined for China will have to pass through the Shan States.  In addition, Sino-Myanmar oil pipelines completed in 2015, which are equally important for Chinese energy security, pass through the Shan States on their way to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, and Nanning, the capital of Guangxi.[40] Thus, Shan State and border stability, as provided by a strong UWSP government apparatus and well-equipped UWSA, are of crucial long-term strategic interest in both Chinese foreign policy and domestic considerations.[41]

Overall, the collapse of the CPB and the rise of the UWSP and UWSA to fill the void have proved to be a boon to Chinese political involvement within Myanmar. The PRC’s relationship with the UWSA allows it leverage with whoever is in power in Naypyidaw, guaranteeing itself a seat at the table in the Myanmar peace process and ensuring that any potential resolution is favorable to Chinese interests. If the UWSA is the Sword of Damocles over the head of the Myanmar junta, then the Chinese are the string fixing the blade to the ceiling. From this relationship, the Wa themselves have also benefited immensely. The Wa’s first time under central government authority came when they were absorbed by the CPB in the 1970s.[42] When the tides of the Cold War shifted, they managed to seize the CPB’s apparatus for themselves in the 1990s with the blessing of the Chinese. Now, the Wa control the most powerful and prosperous entity within conflict-torn Myanmar, second only to the national government itself, as well as a network of military allies. This has allowed the Wa to receive substantial economic and military aid from China, which further improves its viability. The Wa are unlikely to decouple from the Chinese soon, and with Chinese backing at the negotiating table, they may be able to secure an even more advantageous position for themselves depending on how the current conflict in Myanmar plays out.  

[1] Chan Myay, “China Sells Helicopter Gunships to UWSA: Report,” The Irrawaddy, August 20, 2016,

[2] Myo Min Po, “Opinion: Myanmar’s Wa Rebels Procure a Helicopter: What’s Next?,” The Irrawaddy, February 28, 2020,

[3] Anthony Davis, “It’s Party Time for Myanmar’s Largest Armed Ethnic Faction,” Asia Times, April 9, 2019,

[4] Lintner, Bertil, “The Wa of Myanmar: And China’s Quest for Global Dominance,” (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2021), 15.

[5] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 24

[6] Lintner, Bertil, “The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB),” (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2021), 13.

[7] Lintner, “Rise and Fall,” 15

[8] Lintner, “Rise and Fall,” 19

[9] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 74

[10] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 70

[11] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 75

[12] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 81

[13] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 86

[14] This shift can be seen in the split between modern-day China and the New People’s Army (NPA) of the Communist Party of the Philippines or with Chinese support for the Nepalese royal government against the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre)’s insurgency.

[15] Kramer, Tom. “The United Wa State Party: Narco-Army or Ethnic Nationalist Party?” (Washington DC: East-West Center), 37.

[16] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 124

[17] Ong, Andrew. “Producing Intransigence: (Mis) Understanding the United Wa State Army in Myanmar.” (Contemporary Southeast Asia), 463.

[18] Kramer, “United Wa State Party,” 39

[19] Steinmuller, H. “Para-nationalism: Sovereignty and authenticity in the Wa State of Myanmar,” (Nations and Nationalism), 888.

[20] Steinmuller, “Para-nationalism,” 887

[21] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 123

[22] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 124

[23] Ong, “Producing Intransigence,” 454

[24] Steinmuller, H. “Pioneers of the Plantation Economy: Militarism, Dispossesion and the Limits of Growth in the Wa State of Myanmar,” (Social Anthropology), 691

[25] Steinmuller, “Plantation Economy,” 695

[26] Ong, “Producing Intransigence,” 462

[27] Steinmuller, “Plantation Economy,” 692

[28] Steinmuller, “Para-nationalism,” 884

[29] Steinmuller, “Para-nationalism,” 885

[30] Ko Oo, “Analysis: Myanmar’s Spring Revolution Aided by Ethnic Kokang Armed Group,” The Irrawaddy, March 8, 2023,

[31] Lintner, Bertil. “The United Wa State Army and Burma’s Peace Progress,” (United States Institute of Peace), 14

[32] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar”, 14

[33] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar”, 15

[34] Oo, “Myanmar’s Spring Rising”

[35] Michael Jonsson and Elliot Brennan, “Drugs, Guns and Rebellion: A Comparative Analysis of the Arms Procurement of Insurgent Groups in Colombia and Myanmar,” European Journal of Criminal Policy and Research, no. 20 (December 12, 2013): 307–21,

[36] Lintner, “The Wa of Myanmar,” 145

[37] Kramer, “United Wa State Party,” 27

[38] 1. Neslihan Topcu, “A Relationship on a Pipeline: China and Myanmar,” China Research Center, April 7, 2023,

[39] The construction of this port may also connect with China’s supposed “String of Pearls” strategy, which analysts theorize to be a network of Chinese-built military and commercial facilities designed to erode Indian influence.

[40] Neslihan, “A Relationship on a Piepline”

[41] The PRC may have learned from its dealings with Gwadar Port in Pakistan, which has been plagued by security issues from attacks by the anti-Chinese Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

[42] Lintner, “Wa of Myanmar,” 80