PANGHSANG: It has a standing army of 25,000, manufactures its own guns and conscripts at least one member of each household—meet the United Wa State Army: Communist, reclusive, China-backed rebels determined to protect their supremacy over Myanmar’s badland border zone, reports AFP.
Thousands of soldiers, including a company of women and a sniper platoon in combat webbing, marched early Wednesday alongside armoured vehicles in Panghsang, capital of the ethnic Wa, which borders China’s Yunnan province.It was a show of force marking 30 years since Communist Wa rebels negotiated a ceasefire with Myanmar leading to the establishment of special, semi-autonomous zone, marshalled by Bao Youxiang, chief of one of the world’s largest non-state armies.
This week the normally inscrutable Wa extended a rare invite to foreign media to their isolated territory to show off their military prowess and deliver a defiant message of self-sufficiency within Myanmar’s borders.
“The Wa people are masters of their own destiny,” Bao, flanked by senior Chinese officials, declared in an address to the thousands gathered for the parade.
He vowed his 600,000 “war-tested” people will never be pawns in proxy wars and proclaimed the “builders and defenders of Wa” as “one of the best groups in human society.”