滇族国家 — — 东南亚的中流砥柱（三）近代决断
Diantnam — the Mainstay of Southeast Asia (III) Modern Resolution
At that time, the Manchurian Empire in the Du Wenxiu period was already in its last days. Whether by its own strength or by the resources of the scholar-bureaucrat class under the prefect-county system, it could not reconquer Diantnam, so it could only rely on the army led by Cen Yuying. After Cen Yuying’s army entered Diantnam, though they brutally slaughtered Du Wenxiu and many lords who supported the Panthay Sultanate, they themselves became part of the Diantnam feudal system and members of the Diantnam lords, like the Mongolian aristocrats and Muslim aristocrats led by Kublai Khan. The Cen family later played a big role in Diantnam’s independence from the Manchurian Empire. From the perspective of the Diantnam people, these people were like the feudal aristocrats in the ancient times, the Middle Ages, and the modern times from Inner Asia who added a new feudal aristocracy upon the original ones. Like the Indians who believe that Rajput’s Hephthalite aristocracy was a latecomer in the caste system in India, Diantnam people also think that Cen’s army had become part of them, even the ones with more combat capablity. During the disintegration of the Manchurian Empire, the modern Diantnam lords and the Diantnam bourgeoisie fought together to expel the Manchu officials and restore the independence of the country, and elected General Cai E as their governor.
The Office of Du Wenxiu
General Cai E himself was from Huxiangria, not Diantnam. The reason why he was able to obtain the unanimous support of the officers and the bourgeois lords in Diantnam was mainly that he absorbed the cultural essence of the Meiji Restoration in Japan during his study in Japan. He tried to spread the advanced culture represented by the Meiji Restoration to the Southeast Asian states, including his motherland, Huxiangria, and Gestneseland (Guangxi) and Diantnam, where he was appointed as an instructor. He was actually like Tadeusz Koœciuszko (1746–1817), who was both a national hero of Poland and a national hero of the United States. Many of the early American militia did not receive formal military training, and it was Tadeusz, the Polish noble, who gave them formal military training. While establishing military schools in various places in Diantnam and Gestneseland, General Cai E trained their first-generation military officers for these countries and introduced the 19th-century European military technologies introduced by the Meiji Restoration from France and Prussia to these countries, thus making a great contribution to the local independence. At the same time, he was also a far-sighted diplomat who understood the importance of uniting Southeast Asian states and maintaining international balance. Therefore, when dealing with political affairs, he neither favored his motherland nor his second motherland, but emphasized the balance of the Cathaysian States.
I mentioned in the last lecture of Yelang that when the Yelang conservatives and radicals had a constitutional crisis and attempted to solve domestic problems through international interference, Tang Jiyao’s Diantnam army entered Yelang and supported the conservatives. The troops were sent by Cai E. Cai Wei knew that the new-born Cathaysian States were like the Japan after the Meiji Restoration, which needed to undergo a period of conservative governance before the constitution became stable. Conservatives were more inclined to the interests of the big landlords and big bourgeoisie, which meant facilitating the growth of the local-leader network. The radicals were too progressive. Plus, the intellectuals who were inclined to the radicals were likely to get the newly-born Cathaysian States involved in the social reforms and international disputes, which would hinder the smooth growth of the local-leader network. Therefore, he believed that it was best to support the conservative forces, whether in Diantnam or Yelang.
Photo of Cai E (middle) and Some Officers of the National Protection Army
However, when Yelang’s radicals tried to use the powers of Jingchuria (Hubei) and Huxiangria to restore, he correctly predicted that although Diantnam had the best military organization among the various Cathaysian States, which made it completely possible to repeat Nanzhao’s imperialist policies toward the countries of northern Southeast Asia during the disintegration of the Xianbei Empire, the abuse of this imperialist policy would inevitably destroy the harmony of the Cathaysian States and give the Chinese colonists a chance to return. Therefore, it was he who sent Tang Jiyao to quench the chaos in Yelang, and it was also he who asked Tang Jiyao and Diantnam army to withdraw from Yelang and accept the mediation of Yuan Shikai, the leader of the Chinese Commonwealth of Independent States. In this way, the conservatives and radicals of Yelang could reach a solution that both sides could agree upon. Furthermore, it avoided the diplomatic dispute among the powerful Diantnam, Huxiangria, which had been respected as one of the leaders of the Cathaysian States since the time of the Zeng Guofan, and Jingchuria, which had accumulated great political prestige after the Revolution of 1911.
General Cai E’s foresight was very correct because though the Chinese had been hit by the Revolution of 1911, they quickly came back to their imperialist nature and attempted to turn the alliance established by the Cathaysian States as the Commonwealth of Independent States into a tool to rebuild the Chinese imperialism. Yuan Shikai, Duan Qirui, and Wu Peifu attempted to restore the Chinese imperialism three times. General Cai E defeated the first attempt, while Tang Jiyao foiled the second and third attempts. In these three wars, Diantnam once again proved that it was the well-deserved protector of the Cathaysian Alliance. Without Diantnam’s determined resistance against the Chinese imperialist invasions, the states in the north of Southeast Asia would probably not be able to maintain their newly-gained independence during these three aggressions.
Cai E’s Announcement in Sichuan during the National Protection War
However, just as the Nanzhao people began to promote their own imperialism after defeating Tang imperialism, the Tang Jiyao regime also began to promote its own imperialism after defeating the Chinese imperialism of Yuan Shikai, Duan Qirui and Wu Peifu. He began to attempt to use the military superiority of Diantnam to invade Bashulia and Cantonia and establish his own imperialist system, thus excessively consuming the political power of Diantnam and destroying the good political situation of the Cathaysian States that defended them from the Chinese Imperialism. If it was not Tang Jiyao’s excessive interference in the internal affairs of Cantonia, many landlords and bourgeoisie in Cantonia would have been more determined to resist Sun Yat-sen and Chang Kai-shek who introduced the Communists into the game. When Tang Jiyao’s regime ended, Gu Pinzhen and Long Yun began to reflect on the mistakes of imperialist policies and returned to the isolationist line. Nevertheless, meanwhile, the Commies had reconquered most of China along the path of the ancient Shang and Zhou imperialism and Xianbei imperialism. On the contrary, Diantnam had excessively consumed its resources due to the imperialism in the Tang Jiyao era, making them adopt the isolationist policy during the Communist colonization and expansion. They did not promptly assist Yelang and Bashulia. When the isolationist of Diantnam was ending, the strength of the Chiang Kai-shek regime was already too great that there was no way for Diantnam to confront directly.
We can say that the biggest diplomatic mistake of the modern Diantnam was that its imperialist policy and isolationist policy had both been adopted at the wrong time. In the later period of the Tang Jiyao regime, when the Chinese imperialists had been powerless, it should not continue to pursue imperialism but isolationism. In the Gu Pinzhen and the Long Yun period, they should have hit the Chinese imperialists who started to return under the control of the puppet regime of Communists, like Cai E’s attack on Yuan Shikai. They should have beaten Chiang Kai-shek to prevent the imperialist power from growing, or at least to protect Bashulia and Yelang from the imperialist aggression. Instead, they turned to isolationism because of the previous excessive consumption of power, which made Diantnam unable to confront Chiang Kai-shek openly while he sent the colonist army to Kunming.
With its imperialist nature of “divide and rule”, the Chiang Kai-Shek regime sent the Diantnam army to Vietnam on the one hand, destroying the forces of the original local Catholic leaders in Vietnam and supporting Yunnan KMT and commies. As a result, it paved the road for the Vietnam Communism. On the other hand, he sent his Central Army into Diantnam to eradicate the power of the local Diantnam leaders. Eventually, when Stalin was determined to abandon KMT and use his own troops to annex the entire East Asia while the Central Army of Chiang Kai-shek collapsed, the Diantnam army and leaders fell into chaos. Some of their forces had been sent to Vietnam with the Cantonese army, which made the Vietnamese Catholic local leaders who could have become the natural ally their enemies. As for the only historical role of the Vietnamese KMT they helped to establish was to serve as the white gloves of the Vietnamese commies. After overthrowing the French and Vietnamese Catholics, it was quickly toppled by the Vietnamese commies. The local leaders who stayed in Diantnam lost their most elite forces. When KMT quickly surrendered to the Communist army of Mao and Deng Xiaoping and opened the door for these people, Diantnam’s forces were scattered, being unable to form a unified resistance. As a result, the region with Kunming as the core was quickly sold to the commies by KMT.
While the main force of the Diantnam army was abroad, the domestic leaders of Diantnam were caught in the political struggle between feudalists and absolutists. The absolutists preferred Tang’s model, hoping to centralize the powers of the feudal lords in their own hands. They wished to concentrate all the resources to fight against the Chinese invaders, Communist China this time, face to face. As for the feudalists, represented by the ancient House of Meng, House of Duan, and the various local lords along the border between Diantnam and Myanmar, attempted to organize their own local armies in the way of the original feudal system to maintain their own strength. They did not want to concentrate the main force, so as not to be completely buried in one single failed campaign. The two sides could not reach an agreement and further dispersed the resistance of the country. Consequently, most of the land of Diantnam was occupied by Communist China.
Communist Army Entering Kunming
The elites of the Diantnam absolutists and feudalists, including the House of Duan, retreated to the Myanmar territories along the Diantnam-Myanmar border after their initial military resistance failed. Since they used to have extensive marriages with chieftains and feudal lords in northern Myanmar during the feudal era, they were able to withdraw their wealth and strength to the other side of the border to preserve themselves. At the same time, before Communist China gained their full-fledged strength, they would rather give the feudal land controlled by these people to Myanmar in the border negotiations to avoid the direct conflict with Myanmar. In this way, the border between Myanmar and Diantnam in the 1950s reached a temporary balance.
However, currents raged beneath the balance. On the one hand, the Diantnam absolutists attempted to launch a counter-attack with the help of the Chiang Kai-shek regime and the CIA whereas many of the Diantnam feudalists sent their own children to join this Diantnam army. This Diantnam army coordinated with the U.S. Army in the Korean War and engaged in a long-term battle with the Communists led by Chen Geng in the western part of Diantnam. Thanks to their warfares, countries like Myanmar and Thailand in the 1950s got buffer time. The armaments of Myanmar and Thailand were originally still in the police level in the 1950s, having only the 19th-century equipment. Although the United States established the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and was ready to give them new equipment, it takes time to change. They were just like today’s Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union while it was still disarmed. The United States wants to help Ukraine as it did in Poland, but the process of aid and rearmament will take at least 5 to 10 years. It would be very hard for the Ukrainians to resist if a sudden Russian invasion was launched between these five and ten year. Chiang Kai-shek’s regime collapsed so quickly for similar reasons. And the resistance of the Yunnan army had given Myanmar and Thailand at least a decade to replace their equipment.
The Yunnanese Home Army in Myanmar
In the mid-1960s, when both the Ngo Dinh Diem’s regime and the Thai regime had replaced their equipment and developed a certain resistance capability, the Yunnanese Home Army was no longer important, thus the USA and Formosa’s support for the Yunnanese Home Army came to an end. At this time, many of the absolutist Yunnanese accepted the pension from Formosa and moved to Formosa. Locals and feudalists in Yunnan believe their home is on the Yunnan-Myanmar border and do not necessarily need help from others. It was not worthwhile for them to leave their homeland, to withdraw from the feudal system there, and to give up their cause of restoration. Therefore, they would rather stick around the border than lose aids. These people have held out until now.
After Mao Zedong’s attempt to betray Khrushchev to establish his own independent international system failed, he had to join the US-led international system. The Chinese Communist Party then abandoned the path of Soviet internationalism and inherited the Chinese nationalism of Chiang Kai-shek, becoming the successor to the Ottomanism in East Asia. We could tell this from its diplomacy. It attempted to devour overseas groups formerly under Kuomintang control in Costa Rica, Malaysia, Hawaii, South Africa and the United States. The similar campaigns took place along the Yunnan-Myanmar border as well. Some chieftains belonging to the ROC system were breached by the CCP, and succumbed like the Taiwan Kuomintang (KMT), becoming the instruments of Chinese imperialist expansion. However, the chieftains of Diantnam who originally belonged to the feudal system, maintained their traditions throughout the struggle.
Some of the Remaining Army on Their Way to Taiwan
Because of the complex situation on the Diantnam-Myanmar border, both the former Kuomingtang and the current Communist China could only control a small part of Diantnam’s feudal system. The transportation network between the Muslim world of Inner Asia and the Muslim world of Southeast Asia has grown in the past 30 years as the Communist China has dealt with western countries, so the present Diantnam-Myanmar border is dotted with many lords like Du Wenxiu. The heirs of the feudal lords appointed by the Duan and Gao families in the middle age did not all go away. They are still there. Meanwhile, the Inner Asia lords and Muslim groups who repenetrated during the Mongol empire are still growing. Furthermore, the new business groups that emerged during the 30 years of China’s reform and opening-up are thriving. These three generations of different Yunnan feudalism systems and the Chinese colonialist system of the Kuomintang and the Communist China system crisscross each other, playing a complex game in Southeast Asia. Beneath the game are the subterranean tracks throughout Southeast Asia for refugees and weapons, and the roads for wealthy Southeast Asians to deliver contraband such as drugs and Vietnamese rice to Hong Kong. The existence of these two roads illustrates the complexity of Diantnam today.
In the era of Deng Xiaoping, when the Communist Party did not dare to confront the Western countries, it was content to control the superficial system of the military, the police, and state-owned enterprises. However, they can only occupy a small part of the entire social system even within Diantnam. As for the local leaders who gained their fortune and fame under the name of Reform and Opening up, they rely mainly on the international transportation network of Southeast Asia and Inner Asia to obtain their wealth, so they must stay close with the three generations of feudal lords of the former Diantnam and the newly emerging network of Inner Asia and Southeast Asia. Of course, there are a large number of commie spies, but there are also the original feudal systems and patriotic forces among them.
As China breaks away from the west countries again, the chasm will also extend to the political situation inside Diantnam, meaning that the system China can control will inevitably compete with Yunnan’s feudal system for the underground network. The battle will be brutal, often at the expense of the lives of the entire family of a Diantnam patriotic or treasonous chieftain who had been attacked by their rival factions and exterminated. However, it is essential to protect the bourgeoisie in Inner and Southeast Asia and to protect Yunnan’s independence. Such mass killings were already a regular occurrence in the Jiang Zemin’s era. Now as China formally breaks with the west countries, it loses the wealth to buy off the lords of Southeast Asia and Inner Asia. Hence, the lords of Yunnan are bound to mount a more brutal duel with the colonial powers of Chinese terrorists for the resources with the support of the network in Inner Asia and Southeast Asia.
Although according to CCP’s scheme, they will be able to establish the Belt and Road system if succeed, building a huge colonial system that will make them an equal opponent to the United States. Should they fail, they could at least retreat and lock themselves up for 30 years like North Korea, closing its border to promote Leninist system again on its turf. However, it has not the strength to do that in many places. Diantnam is one of those places. Be it the offensive Belt and Road Initiative or the regressive promotion of the Lininist system, the existing resources of Communist military, police, and spy systems in Diantnam and Yelang are far from enough to defeat the network controlled by the local forces, let alone those powerful local leaders who are intricately rooted in and out of China. Therefore, in the foreseeable future, when the areas controlled by the Chinese colonists gradually diverge into the three different systems of the militarily controlled areas where they can successfully implement the Leninist system again, the Syria-like regions controlled by the local leaders, and the chaotic places rampaged by murderers like Zhang Xianzhong, Diantnam will be one of the earliest regions to become the second type. The local leaders in this region are the strongest, which makes it most unlikely to have a successful Leninist machine and outbursts of marauders like Zhang Xianzhong. The future Cathaysian-States patriots have every reason to place their hopes on the patriots of Diantnam like their predecessors in the Cai E era.