UWSA Announces Death of Senior Military Leader

Li Wen at peace talks with the SSA-South in December 2012 (Photo: sina.com)

A leading military figure of Burma’s United Wa State Army (UWSA) died in January, Burma’s largest militia said on Thursday evening.

Li Wen was the deputy chief of staff of the so-called 171 Military Command, the UWSA’s southern region bordering Thailand. Li died at the age of 64 of “sudden heart disease” on Jan. 16, according to video footage of speeches given at a memorial held in the Wa capital Pangkham, in Shan State, on Jan. 31.

He last presided over the second round of talks between the UWSA and the Shan State Army-South in December, when the UWSA released three SSA-South soldiers. At a previous meeting in September, the UWSA released some thirty SSA-South soldiers captured in a military standoff six weeks earlier. The two militias fought a brief war in 2005.

Born in 1949 in Guilin in southern China, Li grew up in Taiwan, where he started his engagement with Chinese Republican troops in Burma. He was sent to Burma to assist the Republican troops which were then controlling large swaths of territory on the Sino-Burmese border with tacit Taiwanese support.

Li then joined the Wa National Council, which in 1989 merged with current chairman Bao Youxiang’s troops into the UWSA, according to Yin Hongwei, a long-time Chinese observer.

He joined what was once dubbed “the largest drug trafficking organization in Southeast Asia” by the US Department of Justice. In 2005, the Wa pledged to end its involvement in opium cultivation and Li seemed to have played a role in the effort.

“All the [opium] crop substitution efforts in the southern command were planned by him,” Bao Youyi, the chairman’s brother and deputy party secretary of the United Wa State Party, said at the funeral. He also said that Li led talks with China on drug eradication.

Bao Youxiang did not attend the funeral. His deputy, Xiao Mingliang and the UWSA’s strongman, Chief of Staff Zhao Zhongdan, attended. Chinese company representatives attended the funeral, according to a statement in the video footage.

His death comes amid increasing tensions between the militia and the Burmese armed forces. Two sources have told The Irrawaddy that the UWSA has heightened its vigilance and held their largest military exercise in their history in January amid concerns over the Tatmadaw’s ongoing offensive against the Kachin Independence Army.

In January, the UWSA’s administrative arm, the Special Region II, issued a joint statement along with Special Region III, controlled by the SSA-South, and Special Region IV, controlled by the National Democratic Alliance Army, calling for the Burmese government to end its siege of the KIA’s makeshift headquarters in Laiza and Lajayang in Kachin State.

Burma’s strongest and best-equipped militia, which signed a ceasefire agreement with Naypyidaw in 2011 after a previous truce broke down in 2009, warned in the statement that civil war could return to the country undergoing political reform.


5 Responses to UWSA Announces Death of Senior Military Leader

  1. May the good Lord receive his soul.

  2. George Than Setkyar Heine

    “A leading military figure of Burma’s United Wa State Army (UWSA) died in January, Burma’s largest militia said on Thursday evening”.
    GOOD RIDDANCE I should say!
    Li Wen is an ETHNIC CHINESE born in China and grew up in Taiwan no less.
    His PRESENCE and ROLE in the UWSA “the largest drug trafficking organization in Southeast Asia” by the US Department of Justice earned him the MOST DISGUSTING NOTORIETY and hence, the PERSONA NON GRATA as well on Burma’s soil since day one to say the least.
    In fact the Bao Youxiang (an ethnic Chinese as well) led UWSA itself is NO BETTER THAN A DRUG CARTEL second to Afghanistan’s TALIBAN only and LORDING OVER the SIMPLE, BACKWARD and ILLITERATE Wa (an ethnic minority of Burma) and MORPHING INTO A FORMIDABLE ARMED MILITIA (50,000 strong) ARMED with latest Chinese HARDWARE as well no doubt.
    According to reliable sources the UWSA has batteries of land to air missiles from China deployed in the Wa State in case Min Aung Hlaing has the TEMERITY to launch his China and Russian made jet fighters in his offensives on Wa State like he did on KIA lately.
    “Burma’s strongest and best-equipped militia, which signed a ceasefire agreement with Naypyidaw in 2011 after a previous truce broke down in 2009, warned in the statement that civil war could return to the country undergoing political reform”.
    That’s a BLATANT and an OUTRIGHT THREAT NOTE sent by the Chinese led drug cartel no less man!
    Hence, Thein Sein led pseudo-civilian outfit at Naypyidaw and Min Aung Hlaing as commander-in-chief of the Burma Army have the OBLIGATION and BOUNDED DUTY to ADDRESS the MATTER – pick up the gauntlet thrown by the Chinese led outfit UWSA – for CHALLENGING/THREATENING BURMA’S SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY and NATIONAL SECURITY on the part of the ethnic Chinese – Bao Youxiang – producing and trafficking drugs and CLAIMING BURMA’S WA STATE as a CHINESE ENCLAVE/FIEFDOM as well today.
    Failing to DRIVE the Chinese drug runners OUT of WA STATE on the part of Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing at the earliest as well would CULMINATE in BURMA TURNING INTO A PROVINCE of CHINA in the very near future and in turn PAVE the WAY for CHINESE HEGEMONY in this part of the hemisphere and ultimately the WORLD as well I say.

  3. Born in Taiwan, came into Myanmar with China connection. Then lead Wa Army.Totally different with KIA, KIA leaders are born in Kachin Land.

  4. So what’s more detrimental to the sovereignty of the country? Chinese pretending to be Wa’s with a well equipped 10,000-man army allowed to control their own territory (and who don’t have to pay taxes for any of their illegal trades) OR some poor homeless illegal Muslim Bangladeshi’s pretending to be Rohingya’s? Just asking!

  5. Rohingya are native of arakan ,they are not illegally enter the hell arakan state.rohingya are there in arakan thousand years ago.whar happen with rohingya in arakan is unable to challenge bama brutality, rakhine extremist genocide campaign.only idiot,fool, uneducated, rascal, son -of bitch can called rohingya are not native of arakan.rohingya are ethnic of arakan, you bastard andamanonge.bama brutal force met their match UWSA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Comments with external links in the body text will be deleted by moderators.