Burma’s military coup, Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest, China and Russia’s joint veto of the U.S. and other Western countries’ proposal to condemn Burma’s military government in the UN Security Council, the Burmese people’s protests in the streets, the military government’s disconnected crackdown escalated, and the latest bloody crackdown over the weekend has led to the death of 18 protesters and 40 people injured.
Myanmar, which borders my hometown of Yunnan, has a history of frequent interaction and close relations. I have been to Xishuangbanna and Dehong, the two places in Yunnan that border Myanmar. I have been to Ruili, Dehong, and once stood at the border crossing on the side of Ruili, which is only separated by a river, and looked across the mountains and rivers of Myanmar. What impressed me most was that the river was so narrow and shallow that it was very easy to cross.
From the recent turmoil in Burma, I remembered a female Burmese communist soldier, Mei, whom I once met.
When I first came to Beijing to study in 1978, I met Mei, a woman from Sichuan who was a few years older than me, at the Home of my uncle Li, who was a worker and peasant cadet at the Beijing Institute of Posts and Telecommunications. When Uncle Li introduced me to her, he said, “This is the brother of so-and-so (sister’s name). Later I heard that Mei was introduced to Uncle Li by her brother-in-law’s father, and that she had been a Burma Communist guerrilla.
After watching a talk show on Phoenix TV about Chinese intellectuals participating in the Burmese Communist guerrilla war, I thought that Mei also ran away as an intellectual to become a Burmese Communist. I asked my sister and brother-in-law about it later, and after checking some internet information, I realized that her story was much more complicated than the story of a Zhiqing who became a Burmese communist.
From the very beginning, communism was a worldwide revolutionary ideal. Marx said that the proletariat can only liberate itself by liberating all of humanity. During the Mao era, from the vigorous criticism of the “three in one less” (less support for imperialism and revisionism, less support for reactionaries in various countries, less support for the world revolution) to the 1965 People’s Daily article “Long Live the Victory of the People’s War”, which proposed the world revolutionary strategy of encircling the cities (Europe and the United States) in the countryside (Asia, Africa and Latin America), Mao Zedong always insisted on the revolutionary concept of liberating all mankind. revolutionary philosophy, seeking to promote the practice of communist red revolution to neighboring countries. The most famous one is the Khmer Rouge, followed by the Burma Communist Guerrilla War.
Mao Zedong walks and talks with visiting Burmese Communist Party Vice Chairman Dechen Patten in Zhongnanhai, August 1963
In the late 1950s, the Burmese Communist Party forces led by Dechen Dandung retreated into Chinese territory, unable to resist military strikes by the Burmese government in Ne Win. The Chinese government placed most of the Kachins among them in Guizhou, while the Burmese were mostly placed in Sichuan province. Many of them lived in China for nearly a decade or more and held positions in the Chinese government, some of them marrying Chinese women and having children. It was during this Time that Mei’s single mother took Mei and her brother to marry a member of the Central Committee of the Burmese Communist Party who was placed in Sichuan.
After the start of the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s idea of a world revolution developed to the extreme, when China was known as the Jinggang Mountain of the world revolution. In order to support the world revolution and overthrow the Burmese reactionaries, in March 1969, former Burmese Communist Party members, originally scattered in Guizhou and Sichuan, were quickly concentrated and trained, equipped with the most advanced weapons of the time, with the great assistance of the Chinese government, and first fought their way back to the Kokang region of Burma, and proceeded to reoccupy large areas of northern Burma. Mei and her younger brother returned to Burma with their mother and stepfather. May’s stepfather was then the secretary of a county committee in the northeastern base area of the Burmese Communist Party. Mei followed her Parents into the guerrilla war, and as a teenager she marched with her troops through the mountains and forests with a radio on her back. Mei’s mother was not the only Sichuanese woman who married a Burmese Communist Party cadre. The most famous one, Huang Wenlan, was the secretary of the Kokang County Committee.
In the 1970s, the Burmese Communist Party’s armed struggle reached a high point. Throughout the 1970s, the largest single anti-government force in Burma was the Burmese Communist Party and People’s Army. The Burmese Communist Party controlled large chunks of land east of the Salween River, and west of the Salween River, it also established base areas. Its sphere of influence, to the north, is almost all of the Burma-China borderlands. To the south, its sphere of influence reached the Burma-Laos border, and there were also regular armed and guerrilla units of the Burma Communist Party in places such as Leilang on the Burma-Thailand border. At its height, the Burma Communist Party controlled nearly 100,000 square kilometers of land, with a population of 1.5-2 million and an armed force of nearly 30,000.
May’s mother, probably considering that it might be a bit inappropriate for both of her children to be taken out of the country to join the Burmese Communist guerrillas, found a way to send her daughter May back to China. My brother-in-law’s father, who was from the same county in Sichuan as Mei’s mother, accepted Mei’s mother’s request and helped Mei, who had already gone to Burma to join the Burmese Communist guerrillas, to settle back in China without any problems. Mei was recommended to attend the Beijing Institute of Posts and Telecommunications before the end of the Cultural Revolution, and after graduation was assigned to work in the Guangzhou post and telecommunications system, and is now heard to be in Hong Kong.
In contrast, Mei’s mother and stepfather and younger brother, who joined the Burmese Communist guerrillas for the world revolution, met a more tragic end later.
After the end of the Cultural Revolution in China, the foreign policy of the foreign revolution was sharply adjusted and support for the Burmese Communist Party was stopped, and the Burmese Communist Party quickly collapsed.
The essence of the revolution started by the Burmese Communist Party was not any class struggle, but based on ethnic conflict.
The following topographic map of Burma shows the horseshoe shape of the country: the green part in the middle is the rich valley of the Irrawaddy plain where the main ethnic group, the Burmese, live, while the yellow part on the north and west edges are the poor and backward mountainous areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, and the yellow northeast part borders the Yunnan province of China. These areas are inhabited by the Kachin, Wa and Kokang ethnic groups.
The leaders of the Burmese Communist Party were all Burmese intellectuals, but the communist revolutionary ideas they preached had no appeal among the Burmese, the main ethnic group, because the areas where the Burmese lived were rich in natural resources and wealthy, and no one would want revolutionary turmoil. The ethnic minorities living in the mountainous areas have long been in conflict with the main ethnic group, the Burmese, who live in the plains and valleys and control the central government. The Communist Party of Burma’s revolution in the mountainous regions of the northeast was based on this ethnic conflict, resulting in the peculiar phenomenon that the grassroots cadres and fighters of the Communist Party of Burma’s armed forces were all ethnic Kachins (Chinese Jingpo), Wa, Kokang (Burmese Han Chinese), and Chinese youths, but the senior leaders were all ethnic Burmese.
Because of the geographical location of the northeastern base area with China at its back, the Burmese communist forces easily obtained direct military assistance from China, including, of course, financial and material assistance. The entire Burmese Communist Party’s armed struggle was completely dependent on the enormous revolutionary aid from China.
The foundation of such a revolution was so fragile that when China had to stop supporting the armed struggle of the Burma Communist Party at the end of the Cultural Revolution and in order to integrate into the world economic system, the Burma Communist Revolution immediately collapsed.
At the end of 1979, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China summoned the leaders of the Communist Party of Burma and announced China’s decision to give the Communist Party of Burma a five-year transition period and to suspend all Chinese aid to the Communist Party of Burma as of January 1, 1985. Those Chinese women who had married senior cadres of the Communist Party of Burma back then filed for divorce. Immediately afterwards, those Chinese youths who had left their hometowns to join the Communist Party of Burma also packed their bags and started to return home. It is said that at one time, there were sad and weeping scenes of husbands sending their wives and children across the border between China and Myanmar. Brigadier Zhao Yun (the Burmese who took his Chinese name) of the Northeast Military Region of the Burma Communist Party blew himself up holding a bundle of TNT after sending his Chinese wife away. There is this description and discussion on the Internet: “Then, one after another, suicide shots rang out in the base of the Northeast Military District. …… How many people killed themselves in those gloomy days! They followed the Burmese Communist Party in a bloody and bitter battle, hoping to one day liberate all of Burma and ascend to the throne of the rulers, but the ideal burst like a bubble. It was all just an illusionary dream!”
May’s mother stepfather and brother eventually returned to the Chinese side of the Sino-Burmese border, living mainly on meager social assistance, which May often gave them financially, and that was the last I heard.