Promoting all Wa Townships in Shan State to Participate in Future Myanmar General Elections

Essay, 2020

10 Pages, Grade: A


Policy Brief: Promoting all Wa Townships in Shan State to Participate in Future

Myanmar General Elections

- Executive Summary

Myanmar has held three general elections since 2010 at the dismantling of the junta. However, in Shan State, most of the Wa population has not engaged due to the unfinished peace process, backwardness, and insufficient identification with the Union of Myanmar.

This policy brief provides recommendations for the central government to promote all Wa townships to participate in future elections and calls for: helping residents in ‘Wa State’, covert action and seeking international assistance.

- Recommendations

(I) Helping residents in ‘Wa State’

- Provide all residents identity cards for the Union of Myanmar.
- Provide youths with employment and higher education opportunities in Burma Proper.

(II) Covert action

- Covertly utilise social media to shape and strengthen their resistance to the local dictatorial regime.
- Support opposition parties in Pro-Naypyidaw townships to infiltrate the ‘Wa State’.

(III) International assistance

- Lift the ban on NGOs travelling to ‘Wa State’.
- Engage in more in-depth negotiations with China.

- Introduction

- Background

The Wa people who reside across the Myanmar-China border are more inclined towards China’s Yunnan Province than the Burma Proper in terms of identity (Lintner, 2019; Steinmüller, 2020). Besides, Myanmar remains a least developed country (United Nations, 2020) that has low economic attraction compared to China. For a long time, Myanmar has been highly dependent on China in the face of international sanctions (Chow and Easley, 2019). Thus, it has been unable to make tough moves on the Wa issue.

The Constitution stipulates that six Wa townships in Shan State form the ‘Wa Self-Administered Division’ (Ministry of Information, 2008: 18). However, four townships that are controlled by the United Wa State Army (UWSA) form a de facto independent regime the ‘Wa State’ and were absent from the 2010 and 2015 general elections (Myanmar Information Management Unit, 2016a,

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Map 1: Myanmar-China Border and ‘Wa State’

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Table 1: Six Wa Townships in Shan State

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Map 2: 2020 General Elections Cancelled Areas in Shan State’s Myanmar-China Border [Mongla is controlled by the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), one of allies of UWSA]

- Current Problem

This year, ‘Wa State’ was absent again (Union Election Commission, 2020). They explained that this was because ‘relevant preparatory work’ was uncompleted. One of the most prominent problems is that many residents cannot register as voters since they lack identity cards for the Union of Myanmar (Ong, 2018: 465).

- Importance

The UWSA is the strongest of the ethnic armed groups (EAGs) that seceded from the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) using Chinese supplied weapons (Lintner, 2019: 3). With China’s support, it has taken the lead in the establishing the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC) that consists of six other EAGs with CPB backgrounds (Ong, 2018: 450; Steinmüller, 2020: 123). Other FPNCC members have often followed UWSA in action. Thus, the participation of ‘Wa State’ in future general elections will:

- Accelerate the peace process in the North.
- Improve the quality of democracy and repair our international image.
- Enhance the State-building of the multi-ethnic Union.
- Reduce interventions from China.

- Recent Positive Signs

- After the result came out, the UWSA leader Bao Youxiang and the FPNCC sent congratulatory letters to the National League for Democracy (NLD), expressing their positive attitude towards the peace process in North Myanmar (Wa News Agency, 2020 a, 2020 b).
- Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will improve the economic condition in ‘Wa State’, which will be conducive to the emerging class’s pursuit of political discourse.

- Long-term Challenges: Natural Enemy of Multi-party Elections

- The One-party System in ‘Wa State’

The United Wa State Party (UWSP) is the only legitimate party and imitates the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s ideology, propaganda, and hierarchical model (Ong, 2018: 464). The lifelong position of Bao Youxiang as the party general secretary was confirmed in 2018 (Wa News Agency, 2018b).

The photos were deleted by the editors due to copyright issues

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In essence, this system conflicts with the multi-party elections. UWSP will not risk losing power to change the status quo hastily.


Excerpt out of 10 pages


Promoting all Wa Townships in Shan State to Participate in Future Myanmar General Elections
University of Nottingham  (School of Politics and International Relations)
Global Asia
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
Myanmar, Democracy, Comparative politics, China, Burma, Southeast Asia, Election
Quote paper
Enchen Lan (Author), 2020, Promoting all Wa Townships in Shan State to Participate in Future Myanmar General Elections, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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