Salt and Revenue in Frontier Formation: State Mobilized Ethnic Politics in the Yunnan­ Burma Borderland since the 1720s

马健雄 (Ma Jianxiong)
Modern Asian Studies, 2013 pp. 1-33
Online version
DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X12000868
Abstract: This research reviews the formation of the Yunnan-Burma frontier since the 1720s, when the Qing government reformed the administrative systems from chieftainships to official counties in the middle and southern Yunnan mountains areas. One of some crucial political changes was the policy of salt revenue which directly stimulated large scale ethnic resistance in the region of salt wells. However, the social political context of continuing ethnic conflicts was not only rooted in the reshaping of the salt-consuming districts, but also rooted in social changes in the Yunnan-Burma borderland because of increasing Han Chinese immigration and their penetration into mining, long distance trade and local agriculture. In order to successfully control mountain resources as the base of revenue, the Qing government continued to gradually integrate native Dai chieftains into official counties. Local resistance continued and reached a peak from the 1790s to the 1810s. Pushed by the Qing government, and with the collaboration of different social actors, the synthesized mobilization of frontier formation had made ethnic politics a main style of social political reconstruction, even if commercial exchange, long distance trade, and demographic reshaping also continued to be mixed with ethnic politics as another layer of the YunnanBurma frontier formation.