After being defeated in the Chinese Civil War, the remnants of the Kuomintang crossed the borders and fled to the land of Shan Tribe between Burma and Thailand. They engaged in a number of skirmishes for survival between the troops from the Communist Party and the natives of Shan, Burmese and Thai militaries, who tried to drive the Kuomintang away. Their story was adapted into a movie in Hong Kong. But the real stories behind are very complicated, and they have left various aftermaths on an international level.
The Kuomintang trained local forces among the Shan tribe, and there was a soldier named Khun Sa. Years later, Khun Sa began to cultivate drug crops in the so-called “Golden Triangle in confrontation with the Kuomintang. Khun Sa, who sold drugs to American soldiers during the Vietnamese War, ultimately became a drug king controlling the American drug market and established a strong footing with a Shan warlord who was seeking to earn independence in Burma.
The American forces that backed the Kuomintang had to fight the flooding drugs in homeland in an unexpected turn of events. But the real victims may have been Burma. Burma, which had been a British colony, was occupied by Japan during World War II. And Aung San, the leader of the Burmese, was assassinated when the country was on the verge of being freed after the end of war.
The leader’s death weakened the Burmese government’s hold on the military junta, but war broke out to drive out the Kuomintang, which led to a quick expansion of the military forces. Some experts say this served as background of the military coup in 1962. Ne Win, who rose to power through a coup, put Aung San’s daughter under house arrest and ruled the country with blood and iron for 30 years. After Ne Win was gone, Aung San Suu Kyi took office for a brief hope for democracy and peace for Burma, but another bout of bloody coups and struggles began to unfold by the junta.
Even if the struggle for democracy manages to prevail, a thick of hurdles remain. In fact, 60% of the Burmese population are about 40 ethnic minorities hoping to break away from the Burmese. Policies for economic development through openness will further complicate relations with neighboring countries such as India, China, Thailand, and Cambodia. Peace and prosperity for Myanmar are a supreme mission, but it requires the cooperation and a wise helping hand from the international community along with the public efforts and consensus in Myanmar.