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 Dynastyto Yunnan Provincein the mid-1600s and later migrated to the Shan Statesin eastern Burma. Today it is the First Special Region of Burma and still has a mostly ethnic Han Chinesepopulation. The Salween Riverpasses its western side and it shares a border with China's Yunnan Provincein the east. Its total land area is around 2,700 km². The capital is Laukkai(Chinese: 老街; Pinyin: Lǎojiē).
The state was officially founded by
Yang Shien Tsaiwho began his reign in 1739 in and around Ta Shwe Htan, then called Shin Da Hu, and took the title "Chief of Shin Da Hu". He was succeeded on his death in 1758 by his son Yang Wei Shin, later referred to as Chief of Kho Kan Shan.
He expanded his territory tenfold compared to that inherited from his predecessor. After his death in 1795, his son
Yang Yon Genbecame the chief. He soon renamed the state as Kokang and titled himself Heng of Kokang.
The Heng was succeeded after his death in 1874 by his younger brother,
Yang Guo Zhen, who ruled peacefully and began relations with Britain upon the annexationof Upper Burma. In 1916 he went blind, and abdicated in favour of his nephew Yang Chun Yon. The new ruler then took the Burmese title Myosa (lit. town eat, given to a prince). He died in 1927 and was succeeded by his son Colonel Sao Yang Wen Pin, Saopha of Kokang.
For the services of Kokang during
World War II, it was recognised a separate Shan state in August 1947 by the British, and the ruler took the title Saopha. He died in 1949 and was succeeded by his son Sao Edward Yang Kyein Tsaiwho was deposed by the Burmese in 1959.
After the collapse of the Communist Party in 1989, Kokang was assigned as the autonomous First Special Region of the northern Shan State of Burma.
In 2003, a comprehensive ban on the cultivation of
opiumcame into effect. Due to the attendant food shortage, among other things, 2003 also saw a large-scale outbreak of malariain mountain villages with authorities reporting some 279 deaths. During this time the Chinese government sent mobile medical units and supplies to the region, with the United Nations World Food Programalso sending disaster relief soon after.
In April 2005, the Japanese government (JICA: Japan International Cooperation Agency) launched a new project to rebuild the lives of farmers in these mountain areas.
In 2000, the population was reported to be around 18,000. In 2003, the population was reported to be approximately 140,000. Of these, around 100,000 are Burmese; the remainder being Chinese. Of the Burmese, 90% are ethnic
Han Chinese, with others being Shan, Palaung, Hmong, Va, Lisaw, Naman and Burman. The outstanding majority of ethnic Burmans are those dispatched to the region by the central government as military and administrative personnel and their families, primary school teachers, skilled workers, medical workers and other public service personnel. Because of the effective disappearance of the narcotics trade, many have lost their source of income and many Chinese have left the region.
* [http://www.kokango.com/ Kokang government website]
* [http://www.4dw.net/royalark/Burma/kokang2.htm The Yang Dynasty]
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