When outsiders ask, “How many principalities were these in the Federated Shan States (1922-1947)?” elderly people would answer differently: some “33” and others “34”.
Both were right and wrong answers. Because while the FSS started with 33 principalities, it ended with 34.
The following memorandum explains how the Kokang State came into being.
GOVERNMENT OF BURMA
FRONTIER AREAS ADMINISTRATION
Dated the 25th August 1947.
Memorandum for the Executive Council.
Subject: – Kokang State
Hon’ble Ministers are probably aware that the question of Kokang has been figuring prominently since the return of the British forces. The origin of this State is obscure but from the information received from the Sawbwagyi of North Hsenwi of which for the present Kokang State forms a sub-state, Chinese levies who took part in the siege of Ayudhiya did not return to China but sought permission to take up their residence in Kokang. This sub-state borders onto China and the population is 90 percent Chinese:
In the past it probably accepted direct administration from North Hsenwi but for some time past the State has been more or less staying aloof although it regularly submitted its contribution towards revenue collection to North Hsenwi.
It appeared however that for some time past Kokang had not made it possible for administrators of North Hsenwi State to enter the territory and up to very recent times British Assistant Superintendents were specifically told not to enter Kokang.
In 1942 with the Japanese invasion the people of Kokang took up resistance and harassed the Japanese. At that stage the present Sawbwagyi of North Hsenwi was told by the Japanese to stay out, on the ground that he had been an officer in the British Army and it appears that a brother of his, Sao Yape Hpa, was put in by the Japanese as Administrator of the State. Throughout the Japanese occupation North Hsenwi was not considered part of the Federated Shan States and was administered directly by the Japanese Army.
In 1943 with Sao Yape Hpa the Japanese took out an ex-peditionary forced and entered Kokang with the result that the Myosa of Kokang and his family had to run away to China where they were made much of by the Chinese and by Marshal Chiang Kai-Sheik. From China they were flown into India and apparently extracted promise from the British authorities.
With the liberation the Sawbwagyi of North Hsenwi was called in by Major-General Pearce and was told that he would have to give up Kokang. He was ordered not to make representations either to Government or to Lord Louis Mountbatten.
The Burma Military Administration treated Kokang as a separate State and this position has prevailed up to the present date although legally the secession was not affected.
Edward Yang aka Yang Zhencai (Yang Chi Sai)(Photo: royalark.net)
In giving evidence before the Frontier Areas Committee of Enquiry, Yang Chi Sai, son of the Kokang Myosa, made it clear that the wanted to be free from North Hsenwi but the unanimous report regarding this particular question was that Kokang should remain a sub-state of North Hsenwi. As a result of this decision that position between Kokang and North Hsenwi became rather strained and a with a view to settling the matter, a meeting was arranged between the Sawbwagyi of North Hsenwi and Yang Kyi Sai. They had preliminary talks among themselves and at the meeting before me a full discussion took place and I append below a memorandum recorded at the meeting. The position in short is that the Sawbwagyi of North Hsenwi taking into account all the facts prevailing in this case has agreed that Kokang should form a separate state, the only condition being that the Kunlong ferry be maintained by the Kokang state and that it should be auctioned in the presence of officials from both North Hsenwi and Kokang. The profits of the ferry will be shared equally by the two states.
Point for decision. Should Kokang be permitted to form a State separate from North Hsenwi and to be an individual state in the Shan State?
Everybody who knows the Shan States feel that a dissatisfied Kokang would indeed be a very vulnerable spot along the Chinese border. As pointed out 90 percent are Chinese and what they really want is not amalgamation with China but to remain in the Shan States Federation as a unit independent from North Hsenwi.
I have consulted various people who know the situation and also my brother chiefs and the unanimous opinion is that recognition be accorded to Kokang as a separate state within the Shan States Federation.
With the exception of Mongpai whose position has not yet been clarified I can think of no other territory which can have similar claims for secession from a State. Kokang’s position is unique in that the people are not Shans but Chinese.
(Sao Khun Hkio)
Frontier Areas Administration
Date the 25th August 1947
The question of instituting a separate Kokang State was discussed in the presence of the Hon’ ble Counselor by the Sawbwa of North Hsenwi (Sao Hom Hpa) and Yang Kyi Sai, son of the Myosa of Kokang. The Tawngpeng Sawbwa, Thamakan Sawbwa, U Tun Myint, U Tun Ohn, U Kya Bu, U Kyaw Dun, Sao Boon Waat and U Myint Thein were present.
It is agreed that Kokang has a population of 90 percent Chinese and the Sawbwagyi taking into consideration all the circumstances prevailing in the case has no objection to the secession of Kokang from the State of North Hsenwi.
Two proposals are put up by him:-
The condition however is that the Kunlong ferry be maintained by the Kokang State but that is should be auctioned in the presence of one official from North Hsenwi and one official from Kokang. The Kokang State will be responsible for the maintenance of the ferry, the proceeds to be shared equally by the two States.
The second proposal is accepted by Yang Kyi Sai.
The Sawbwa further mentions that he should be compensated for the loss of his territory which involves revenue and his suggestion is that a portion of the Wa States be added on to Monglun and that the western portion of Monglun should be ceded to South Hsenwi and that the Northern portion of South Hsenwi be ceded to North Hsenwi. Alternatively the Sawbwagyi would like to be considered for financial compensation.
But bearing in mind the prevailing circumstances the Sawbwagyi, although he would like to be compensated, does not insist upon such compensation but merely wishes to point out that he deserves compensation. He does not wish to stand in the way of the desire of the people of Kokang to set up an independent state as the population as already stated above is 90 percent Chinese. He would like to avoid any international complications and if the situation could be saved by acceding to the wishes of the Kokang people he is prepared to do so. And further the Sawbwagyi would like to have it recorded that if the Kokang State should at any time desire to give up their right of administering their State he would welcome them back.
Note: Minutes as recorded above read out and acknowledged as correct by those present.
You’re on top of the game. Thanks for shngair.
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