Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
The Wa people of 1–1.5 million live in the highlands on both sides of the China-Myanmar border. Many of them fought with the Burmese Communist Party (BCP) in its long rebellion. In 1989, they mutinied, and the BCP collapsed. The Wa then formed an army of their own on the communist model and agreed to a ceasefire with the Myanmar government. It has survived till this day. The Wa have trained and provided Chinese weapons to other groups fighting the Myanmar army but have avoided fighting it themselves. Today they have Myanmar’s largest non-state army (20–30,000 troops), which guards a de facto independent state with two territories. One is on the border to China, the other on the border to Thailand. The Wa use Chinese language, currency, weapons, and mobile telephones. They do not aim at independence, but at recognition as a separate state within the Union of Myanmar. Although Lintner covers Wa history in fascinating, well-informed detail, his book is also so much more. He analyzes the role of the Wa in China-Myanmar relations and in China's quest for regional and global dominance. Indeed, he uses the Wa as a prism for throwing light at global trends. His book includes perceptive analyses of topics such as the shift in the global drugs trade from opium/heroin to industrially produced methamphetamines and the rise of Xi Jinping’s new Zhongguo nationalism, which much reduces the scope for cultural diversity along China's ethnic periphery. This book should be read by all students of China, Myanmar, communism, ethno-nationalism, and the global drugs trade.