The Secret Army: Chiang Kai-shek and the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle
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Would you like to change to the United States site? After their defeat in China's civil war, remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's armies took refuge in Burma before being driven into Thailand and Laos. Based on recently declassified government documents, The Secret Army: Chiang Kai-shek and the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle reveals the shocking true story of what happened after the Chinese Nationalists lost the revolution. Supported by Taiwan, the CIA, and the Thai government, this former army reinvented itself as an anti-communist mercenary force, fighting into the s, before eventually becoming the drug lords who made the Golden Triangle a household name.
Offering a previously unseen look inside the post-war workings of the Kuomintang army, historians Richard Gibson and Wen-hua Chen explore how this fallen military group dominated the drug trade in Southeast Asia for more than three decades. A fascinating look at an untold piece of Chinese—and drug-running—history, The Secret Army offers a revealing look into the history of one of the most infamous drug cartels in Asia.
The Secret Army: Chiang Kai-Shek and the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle
He speaks French, Thai, and Japanese fluently, and received the Department of States meritorious and superior honor awards. He retired in and has been pursuing various writing projects, publishing several works in Chinese language periodicals in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. Request permission to reuse content from this site. Added to Your Shopping Cart. Description The incredible story of how Chiang Kai-shek's defeated army came to dominate the Asian drug trade After their defeat in China's civil war, remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's armies took refuge in Burma before being driven into Thailand and Laos.
Based on recently released, previously classified government documents Draws on interviews with active participants, as well as a variety of Chinese, Thai, and Burmese written sources Includes unique insights drawn from author Richard Gibson's personal experiences with anti-narcotics trafficking efforts in the Golden Triangle A fascinating look at an untold piece of Chinese—and drug-running—history, The Secret Army offers a revealing look into the history of one of the most infamous drug cartels in Asia.
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About the Author Richard M. Permissions Request permission to reuse content from this site. Table of contents Introduction: One American missionary to the Lahu tribesmen of Kengtung State even testifies to the torture the KMT committed to the Lahu for failing to comply with their regulations. The annual production increased twenty-fold from 30 tons at the time of Burmese independence to tons in the mids.
The KMT troops were, in effect, the forebears of the private narcotic armies operating in the " Golden Triangle. The intrusion of KMT troops into Burma posed serious problems of internal and external security for the newly independent country.
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Internally, the KMT's overtures to the local insurgents exacerbated the existing civil conflict between the Burmese government and the ethnic and Communist insurgents. Both were aligned in their disagreement with the neutralist foreign policy of Burma and both looked to the West for aid. While the KMT had modern weapons and other military supplies, the KNDO had contacts, local knowledge, and easier access to food supplies.
To make matters worse for the government, some of the American-manufactured weapons also made their way apparently through KNDO into the hands of the Burmese communist rebels. The net effect of KMT's intrusion into the Burmese civil conflict was that it distracted the Burmese Army from its counter-insurgency efforts and increased the quantity of weapons available to the anti-government rebels.
Externally, the existence of anti-communist KMT troops on its borders with China compromised Burma's neutralist foreign policy.
As different groups within Burma desired to support one or the other bloc in the Cold War , it was in the government's interests to follow a neutralist policy in order to avoid antagonizing either the pro-Western minorities or the pro-Soviet or pro-Chinese communists. Situated in the middle of these states with differing ideologies and deep antagonisms, this made it necessary for Burma to maintain friendly terms with all of them. The Burmese government feared that the presence of the anti-communist KMT troops on its borders would antagonize Communist China and provide it with an excuse to invade Burma.
On its part, Communist China was concerned that the United States might open a second front in its southern provinces by using Burma as a base of operations and the KMT troops as a nucleus for an invasion army. Indeed, China's policies in the early s justified Burma's anxieties. First, Communist China's promulgation and subsequent creation of an autonomous state for the Chinese Shans was an apparent attempt to foster separatist tendencies of the Burmese Shans and attract them to China.
Second, since its victory in the Chinese civil war, Communist China had been giving advice and supplies to the Burmese Communists and allowed them to use Chinese territory as a military and political training center. Third, China displayed its belligerence in Yunnan Province by amassing an estimated , troops, as well as building and repairing roads that led to Burma. Finally, Communist China made claims on territories on the 1, mile Sino-Burmese border that both sides had yet to officially demarcate. Fortunately, despite China's militancy, Burma's fears did not materialize as Beijing acted with restraint toward Burma during the entire KMT crisis period.
After its military efforts and appeal to the United States failed to resolve the KMT problem, Burma submitted a formal complaint to the United Nations in March , producing reams of photos, captured documents, and testimony convincing enough to win a vote of censure for Taiwan. After months of negotiations and recalcitrance from the KMT, the three-phase withdrawal finally took place on November 7 and continued into December The second and third phases were conducted the following year during the periods February 14—28 and May 1—7, respectively.
It was obvious that the KMT carried out its evacuation halfheartedly; Burmese observers at the staging areas frequently protested that the supposedly Chinese evacuees looked more like Shans or Lahus, and the weapons they carried were "rusting museum pieces" instead of the recently acquired American manufactures. However, 6, irregular KMT troops remained in Burma. Fighting began again a month later, and continued sporadically for the next seven years. With the assistance of Communist Chinese troops, the Burmese Army conducted a series of successful military operations in — that finally "broke the back" of the KMT irregulars.
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The diplomatic crisis that ensued prompted the United States to exert strong pressure on Taiwan to evacuate its remaining troops from Burma. The rest, a handful about to , either remained in Burma or fled to Thailand and Laos. In general, scholars agree that the KMT crisis was an event of significant impact on Burma's history. The KMT intrusion into Burma had the unintended consequence of precipitating the nationalist sentiments into several ethnic insurrections led by the Shan, Wa and other ethnic groups. Initially the Shans were largely loyal to the newly independent Burmese government throughout the KMT crisis as they were a signatory to the historic Panglong Agreement that granted them secession rights.
When it came to time for the Shans to deliberate on their status within the Union in , the negative experience of the Army's repressive actions was an additional argument for greater autonomy. As a result, the Burmese Army led by Ne Win , determined to maintain the integrity of the Union, mounted a coup against the government and abrogated both the Constitution and the rights of the Shan and Karenni states to secede.
Kuomintang in Burma
According to Mary Callahan , the KMT crisis presented a formidable threat to Burma's sovereignty and proved to be a catalyst that forced the Burmese Army's institutionalization, turning it from a band of guerilla fighters into a professional army. Callahan argues that the Burmese Army's transformation gave it enormous autonomy and authority to define who were citizens and enemies in the ethnically diverse state. This transformation laid the foundation for its eventual consolidation of authority in the s that culminated in its takeover of the government.
Robert Taylor makes a similar argument about the significant consequences KMT intervention had on Burma's political, economic and ethnic problems. The KMT army's involvement with the local rebels not only contributed to the Burmese state's failure to deal with the insurgencies, but also stunted Burmese efforts in national integration and economic construction.
Asia Times Online :: Revelations of a secret war
Kenneth Young's thesis highlights the Cold War context of the concurrent Korean War as well as the complicated foreign relations between Burma, Thailand, China both Nationalist and Communist , and the United States. Not only had the United States failed to contain Sino-Burmese relations, it had alienated Burma through its handling of the KMT issue and its failure to restrain the Chinese Nationalists.
After the joint Sino-Burmese military campaign evicted the KMT remnant guerrillas from the Shan states in , the guerrillas retreated across the border to Thailand and dominated the opium trade in the "Golden Triangle" region until the s. Remnant members of the 93rd Division and their descendants have since formed several communities in Thailand, most notably Santikhiri in Chiang Rai Province. It is based on a novel by Bo Yang , which is based on the true story of the KMT's experience in Burma's border and invasion attempts in Yunnan Province. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. December Learn how and when to remove this template message. Internal conflict in Myanmar. Campaign at the China—Burma border — The New York Times. Retrieved November 19, The Dynamics of Ethnic Conflict in Burma. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Opium and Insurgency since Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity.
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