KOKANG

BRIEF HISTORY

Kokang was the only Chinese state within Burma. The state owes its origins to the Yang family, who migrated with their followers into Yunan with other Ming loyalists during the second half of the seventeenth century. Being men of military background, they protected the local people and freed the area of bandits. Later they extended their control by fortuitous marriage connections and by waging war on their Shan neighbours. After the defeat of King Thibaw and the annexation of Upper Burma in 1885, attempts were made to settle the border with China. After exhaustive deliberations, this was accomplished in 1897 and Kokang transferred to British sovereignty. The area became a district within the state of Hsenwi North, but remained, in effect, an autonomous sub-state under the Yang Heng.
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The Japanese conquest of Burma in 1941 did not initially extend into Kokang. Being close to the Chinese border, the area continued under allied control during most of WW2. The Heng and his family supported the allied cause vigorously throughout the War, suffering many hardships not only at Japanese hands but also from the Chinese Kuomintang "allies". Largely in recognition of these services, Kokang came to be recognised as a separate Shan state in August 1947, just six months before independence. Thereafter the ruler assumed the Shan title of Saopha (celestial prince).
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The state became part of the Union of Burma, and a constituent part of Shan State, at independence in 1948. Several members of the Yang family entered Parliament and served with distinction in several branches of government service. The state experienced considerable unrest after 1949 after the invasion of the border areas by elements of the defeated Kuomintang armies. It took four years before they were disarmed or expelled. When the other Shan rulers decided to surrender political power to an elected Shan administration in 1959, the Saopha of Kokang abdicated his rights to his people directly. However, within four years the coup d'etat by General Ne Win brought further unrest and instability. The increasing repression of the central military government forced local people into rebellion. The Kokang Revolutionary Force came into being and commenced guerilla operations against the Burmese army. These have continued in various forms, ever since. In common with the ruling families of several other Shan states, members of the Yang family have also been very actively involved in the anti-government organisations, the guerilla forces, and the pro-democracy movement.
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SALUTE:
None

STYLES & TITLES:
The ruling prince: Sao Yang (personal name), Saopha of Kokang.
The principal consort of the ruling prince, Mahadevi.
The Heir Apparent: Ying Kwan.
The principal consort of the Heir Apparent: Ying Tai.
The other sons and daughters of the ruling prince: none.
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RULES OF SUCCESSION:
Male primogeniture.

ORDERS & DECORATIONS:
None.
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SOURCES:
Chiefs and Leading Families of the Shan States and Karenni, Second Edition. Government of Burma, Rangoon, 1919.
Jackie Yang Li, The House of Yang, guardians of an unknown frontier. Bookpress, Sydney, Australia, 1997.
Professor Sai Kham Mong, Kokang and Kachin, in the Shan State (1945-1960). Institute of Asian Studies, Bangkok, 2005.

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
Mie Mie Akerstrom.
Faith Yang-Wolf.
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Copyrightę Christopher Buyers, December 2002 - July 2010


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