WikiLeaks Cables Show China's Support for UWSA
covering burma and southeast asia
Friday, May 24, 2019

WikiLeaks Cables Show China's Support for UWSA

By KO HTWE Monday, September 5, 2011

United Wa State Army troops on parade. (Photo: S.H.A.N)

Burma's strongest ethnic armed group of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) is confident of the “upper hand” in any battle with government troops after being equipped with more than 30 US-manufactured surface-to-air missiles, according to a recent dispatch by WikiLeaks.

Rangoon-based United States Embassy Charge d'Affaires Larry Dinger sent the cable in January 2010 after talking with UWSA's Deputy Liaison Officer Soe Than.

In the cable, Soe Than also predicted that Burmese troops would face serious logistical challenges and numerous potential casualties if they were to attack the group.

The UWSA also received financial and moral support from China, said Soe Than.

He said the Chinese thought the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) was angling for new allies—specifically the US, North Korea and Russia—so China was beefing up its financial and military support for the UWSA in response.

Chinese government representatives attend all UWSA ceremonies and five representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Rangoon attended a Wa anniversary celebration in December 2009, he added.
A separate 2009 cable concerning the UWSA also claimed that the group was well-armed with US-manufactured grenade launchers, as well as shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles and launchers provided by Russia.

The cable claims that there were 30,000 active-duty Wa troops with an additional 10,000 youth and auxiliary forces, many of whom are enrolled in training or engaged in agriculture.

“The only threat the UWSA is not prepared to face is major airstrikes by the Burma Army,” Soe Than was quoted in the cable.

The Wa group found it easy to purchase arms from Thailand, China (including Hong Kong), and Singapore, according to leaked documents. But the UWSA denied manufacturing armaments or purchasing shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles and launchers from Russia in 2005 or 2006.

Hong Pang Company, based in Tachilek, is the parent company for many Wa investments, said Soe Than.

He also claimed the UWSA has over US $2billion invested in “transportation (including Yangon Airway), hotels (including Yangon City Hotel), restaurants, gems, mining, teak, road/building construction, property development, manufacturing (including of the ubiquitous plastic rice bags), wood processing (including a facility at the Mingaladon Industrial Estate near Rangoon's airport), massage parlors, and music recording studios (including "NASA" Studio—NFI).”

For the Wa, retention of the UWSA is non-negotiable and leaders are prepared to abandon all legitimate economic interests throughout the country—estimated by the Wa as over US $2 billion—if necessary to preserve their right to arms.

Since last year, the Burmese regime has been pressuring 17 ceasefire armies to accept the Border Guard Force (BGF) plan, but only a few have joined. The others, including the UWSA and the Kachin Independence Army, have refused.

Comparing Military Security Affairs Chief Lieutenant General Ye Myint with former Prime Minister and Military Intelligence Chief Khin Nyunt, UWSA Commander Bao Youxiang said he respected Khin Nyunt.

In 2009, Bao Youxiang met with Ye Myint for 30 minutes but no solution regarding the BGF was reached. The UWSA did not accept the Burmese government's BGF proposal but opted to “not answer” rather than reply no.

Soe Than said, “You can never trust the SPDC. They always negotiate while holding a sword behind their back.”

Burma's ethnic Wa population is estimated at nearly one million and strives to maintain its army and autonomy over its own ethnic region, but has expressed no desire leave the federal system and secede from Burma.

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Shwe Rakhine Wrote:
I read with earnest this website and find the reporting informative for which I sincerely thank the staff. However, what I find interesting is Irrawaddy's bias in reporting WikiLeaks. I applaud the publication of this article as well as ones in the past including Than Shwe's disgusting desire to buy Man U. When there are wikileaks associated with Rohingya's involvement with terrorism (see link) there is not even a hint of a mention.

Please do not be just one sided in what you report.

shwe moe Wrote:
The SPDC must be deaf, dumb and blind if they cannot fathom out that China is a toxic friend; hell bent on slyly devouring her neighbors by fair or foul means. Just look at the situation in Burma with all the ethnic armies armed to the teeth - whose signature you think it bares… China. China has made the art of slyly raking up discontent all over the world in to a science. Look at Libya they were caught with their pants down selling weapons to Gaddafi, and she is a permanent member of the UN Security Council this says a lot about China and her motives; disgraceful to say the least.

ton Wrote:
UWSA, SSA should work together to expel Burma from the Shan State. The race to build their own nation.

Wallace Hla Wrote:
No wonder China backs the USWA as the leaders are of Chinese origin. USWA is just a namesake to justify to form an army. Their funds are derived from drugs, transporting it through Thailand to the world. Without the cooperation of the corrupted generals, the drug trade would not flourish.It reminds one of the "Law" clan of Lao Hsing Han during Ne Win's era that started as a civil defense force,carry arms and given concessions to alcohol distilleries., a front for their drug trade. Like the USWA laundering their drug-money with legitimate investments, the Law clan's business empire by Steven Law still flourishes today, backed by the military. After all if one studied Burmese history, neither the leaders of the "Wa" or "Kokang" can stake a legitimate claim to be Burmese. The betrayal and whoring of our country started from the days of Ne Win and one sees no end to it considering the caliber of the self-imposed government.

Kyaw Wrote:
When WAs must fully join UNFC actively to liberate all the Ethnic groups of Burma. Due to the recent conflicts in Kachin State, many Kachin youths from the cities are joining KIA, A strength of KIA is now reach to over 50,000. With the join force of Kachin, Shan and Was, the evil Government troops with 0 moral can be easily eliminated. All must Join UNFC front for their surviving and prosper future generations of their own.

tocharian Wrote:
I thought China is vehemently against interfering in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations? At least that's what they say in the UN Security Council!

Peking is a double-tongued liar and a double-faced monster. No one in Burma should trust the Chinese. They will betray you. Than Shwe is a fool. He let himself be bribed by the Chinese for personal gain. The problem now is that there are already too many Chinese and half-Chinese in Burma or Mian Dian as they call it.

Prozac Wrote:
The reason the Wa refuses to become a Border Guard Force (BGF) for the Burma Army is because they ARE already a BGF for China for many years, decades, and they get a much better deal from the Chinese.

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