China and Burma

China and Burma
   (Historical Relations)
   Although southwestern China and Tibet are believed to be the original homelands of most of the present-day inhabitants of Burma, China's impact on the development of Burmese civilization since antiquity has been less important than that of India. However, Chinese expansionism has frequently threatened the independence of Burmese states. The non-Han Chinese state of Nan Chao, located in what is now Yunnan Province, extended its power into the valley of the Irrawaddy River and waged war with the Pyus in the eighth and ninth centuries CE. Only with Nan Chao's decline in power were the Burmans able to establish a strong state at Pagan (Bagan), in the midninth century. In 1253, the Mongol emperor Khubilai Khan conquered Yunnan. Mongol forays hastened the end of the Pagan Dynasty in the late 13th century. Even today, Chinese people are called taiyoke, meaning "Turk," in the Burmese (Myanmar) language, referring to Khubilai's Central Asian-Muslim soldiers.
   In the 17th century, a Manchu (Ch'ing, Qing) army attempting to capture Yong Li, a Ming Dynasty prince, penetrated Burma as far south as Sagaing. Between 1766 and 1769, King Hsinbyushin successfully fought a series of battles against the Ch'ing that were caused by disputes over control of the eastern Shan States. A Chinese punitive force led by a son-in-law of the emperor approached the Burmese capital of Ava (Inwa) but was defeated, and Hsinbyushin's military commander, Maha Thiha Thura, agreed to the Treaty of Kaungton in 1770. The treaty, a face-saving measure for the humiliated Manchus, committed the Burmese king to sending tribute missions to Beijing every 10 years in recognition of the superior status of the Chinese emperor. Thereafter, the China-Burma border region became stable. Following the formal British annexation of Upper Burma in 1886, Britain and China signed a border treaty that later was significantly revised with the signing of a new border demarcation agreement by the independent Union of Burma and the People's Republic of China in 1961.
   During World War II, Chinese Nationalist (Kuomintang/ Guomindang) troops participated in Allied operations against the Japanese. Since the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, the incursion of Kuomintang irregulars into the Shan States, and Beijing's support for a Communist Party of Burma base along the border following the Anti-Chinese Riots of June 1967, have contributed greatly to Burma's instability and provide a major rationalization for the perpetuation of military dictatorship.
   See also Burma Road; Chinese in Burma; Keng Tung; Kokang; Ledo Road; Opium; Sino-Burmese; Was.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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