3. The Colonial Legacy: Opium for the Natives*
* For a more detailed discussion on opium in China, see the Appendix by Leonard P. Adams 11
WHEN Santo Trafficante, Jr., boarded a commercial jet for the flight to Southeast Asia, he was probably unaware that Western adventurers had been coming to Asia., for hundred of years to make their fortunes in the narcotics trade. Earlier adventurers had flown the flag of the Portuguese Empire, the British East India Company, and the French Republic; Trafficante was a representative of the American Mafia. While he was traveling on a jet aircraft, they had come in tiny, wooden-hulled Portuguese caravels, British men-of-war, or steel-ribbed steamships. With their superior military technology, they used their warships to open up China and Southeast Asia for their opium merchants and slowly proceeded to conquer the Asian land mass, dividing it up into colonies. Sanctimonious empire builders subjected millions of natives to the curse of opium addiction, generating enormous revenues for colonial development, and providing profits for European stockholders. Thus, the Mafia was following in the wake of a long tradition of Western drug trafficking in Asia-but with one important difference. It was not interested in selling Asian opium to the Asians; it was trying to buy Asian heroin for the Americans.
The recent rise of large-scale heroin production in Southeast Asia is the culmination of four hundred years of Western intervention in Asia. In the 1500s European merchants introduced opium smoking; in the 1700s the British East India Company became Asia's first large scale opium smuggler, forcibly supplying an unwilling China; and in the 1800s every European colony had its official opium dens. At every stage of its development, Asia's narcotics traffic has been shaped and formed by the rise and fall of Western empires. (1) Before the first Portuguese ships arrived in the 1500s, opium smoking and drug smuggling were almost unknown in Asia. Most of the traditional Asian states were inward-looking empires with only a marginal interest in sea trade. Their economies were self-contained, and they only ventured abroad to trade for luxury goods, rare spices, or art treasures. (2) Asia's large cities-such as Peking, Phnom Penh, and Mandalay-were inland ceremonial capitals. For the most part, coastal areas were considered undesirable and therefore remained relatively underpopulated. (3) While Arab traders had introduced the opium poppy into India and some parts of southwestern China in the seventh century A.D., poppy cultivation remained limited and opium was used almost exclusively for medicinal purposes.
Europe's "Age of Discovery" marked the beginning of Asia's opium problem. Only six years after Columbus "discovered" America, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama rounded the tip of Africa and became the first European sea captain to reach India. Later Portuguese fleets pushed onward to China and the Spice Islands of Indonesia. These early merchants were not the omnipotent conquerors of later centuries, and Asian empires had no difficulty confining them to small commercial beachheads along the unoccupied coastlines. However, from the very beginning of the Western-Eastern encounter the traders were hampered by a factor that was destined to plague these entrepreneuring European merchants down through the centuries: Europe had almost nothing to trade that the Asians were interested in acquiring, except its gold and silver specie.-' Unwilling to barter away the basis of their national economies, the Portuguese sea captains embarked on what one American economist has called "slash and burn colonialism."(4)
Fortifying their coastal enclaves against possible reprisal attacks, the Portuguese proceeded to sortie out into the sea-lanes of the South China Sea, confiscating native cargoes and plundering rival ports. Once the competing Malay, Chinese, and Arab sea captains had been subjugated, the Portuguese took over inter-Asian maritime commerce and paid for the silks and spices with their plundered profits. Medicinal opium had been carried by Asian ships in the India-China-Spice Islands' triangular trade, and Portuguese merchants fell heir to this commerce. Still eager for an enticing exchange commodity to barter for Chinese silks, the Portuguese imported tobacco from their Brazilian colony in the late 1500s.
Although the Chinese frustrated Portuguese hopes by growing their own tobacco, the tobacco pipe itself, which had been introduced by the Spanish, turned out to be the key that unlocked the gates to the Celestial Kingdom's riches. Indian opium mixed with tobacco and smoked through a pipe was pleasing to the Chinese palate. This fad first became popular among the overseas Chinese of Southeast Asia, and Dutch merchants witnessed Chinese smoking an opium-tobacco mixture in Indonesia as early as 1617. By the early seventeenth century the Dutch, who had preempted the Portuguese position in Southeast Asia, were reportedly pushing opium on Taiwan and making inroads into the nearby Chinese coast.(5)
While the "Age of Discovery" introduced a few Chinese to opium smoking, it was Europe's Industrial Revolution that transformed China into a nation of addicts. The expansion of Europe's industrial might throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries developed a need for new markets and raw materials. European colonies in Asia broke out of their coastal enclaves and began spreading into the interior. With their new military-industrial might, small European armies were able to overwhelm Asian levies and carve Asia into vast colonial empires (6) To defray the enormous expenses involved in administering and "developing" their Asian colonies, the European powers turned to the opium trade. As the vanguard of the Industrial Revolution, England emerged as the world's most powerful colonial power and its largest opium merchant.
After annexing much of northern India in the late eighteenth century, English bureaucrats established a monopoly over Indian poppy cultivation in Bengal and began exporting thousands of chests of smoker's opium to China. The average annual British India opium exports grew to 270 tons in 1821 and leaped to over 2,400 tons by 1838. (7)
As opium addiction spread through the imperial bureaucracy and the army, Chinese officials became extremely concerned about the social and economic costs of opium smoking. The emperor had banned opium imports in 1800, but British merchant captains ignored the imperial edict. When the British refused to desist despite repeated requests, Chinese officials threw several thousand kilos of British opium into Canton harbor in a gesture of defiance rather similar to another nation's Boston Tea Party. Britain reacted to protect her interests: from 1839 until 1842 her warships blasted the Chinese coast, winning a decisive victory in what Chinese historians call "the Opium War." Although China was forced to open treaty ports to European merchants and thereby to opium imports, she steadfastly refused to legalize the opium trade.
During the latter half of the nineteenth century the tempo of the Industrial Revolution quickened, producing a new burst of empire building. Europe's imperial real estate brokers divided the world into colonies, Protectorates, and "spheres of influence." All the gray, "unknown" areas of the world map became tinted with the pinks, blues, and greens of European ownership. The kingdom of Burma became British Burma; Thailand became a British sphere of influence; and Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia became French Indochina.
As the age of "steam and steel" dawned, the clipper ship gave way to the steelhulled steamship and the Suez Canal was opened, ultimately changing the face of Southeast Asia. Eager to tap the agricultural and mineral wealth of this lush region, colonial engineers pushed gleaming steel railroads through the dense tropical rain forests into virgin hinterlands. At the beginning of the rail lines small fishing villages and tidal estuaries mushroomed into Asia's great urban cities-Rangoon, Singapore, Djakarta, Bangkok, Saigon, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. At the end of the line, European entrepreneurs dug mines or laid out vast plantations that produced valuable export crops for the motherland's growing industries-including sugar, cotton, coffee, rubber, jute, hemp, and copra.(8)
The breakneck pace of this economic growth required vast legions of toiling laborers. While Europeans were willing to don pith helmets and bark orders, they had not come to Southeast Asia to sweat in the mines, harvest crops, or load cargo. Although sufficient numbers of Southeast Asian "natives" could be lured onto nearby plantations and dragooned into working on roads or railways, they clung to their ricegrowing villages, spurning the urban entrepots where they were needed as craftsmen, merchants, and "coolies." To fill this labor gap, the European colonialists populated their port cities with Armenians, Jews, Indians, and Chinese. By virtue of their sheer numbers, however, the Chinese were by far the most important.(9)
For, in the early nineteenth century, the population of coastal provinces of southern China (particularly in Kwangtung and Fukien provinces) had reached a saturation point: famine was in the air, and thousands of desperate peasants began migrating.(10) Paced by the tempo of colonial economic expansion, the Chinese migration started off as a trickle in the late eighteenth century, increased steadily through the middle decades of the nineteenth, and reached flood proportions by the early twentieth. While some of the emigrants went to California, where they helped to build the western section of the transcontinental railway in the 1860s, or around Cape Horn to the Caribbean, where they worked the island plantations, most of them went to Southeast Asia, where work was available in abundance. By 1910 there were 120,000 Chinese in Saigon and the Mekong Delta, 200,000 in Bangkok, and over 60,000 in the Rangoon area.(11) The opium habits so diligently fostered and fed by the British warships came along with them. While the habit had first become popular among the upper classes in the eighteenth century, it was not until the latter half of the nineteenth century that it spread to the urban working classes and rural villages. As living conditions continued to worsen, more and more Chinese turned to something that would dull the increasing misery of their lives. By 1870, in the aftermath of yet another opium war (1856-1858), which forced the Chinese imperial government to legalize the importation of opium, British merchants were supplying the habits of an estimated 15 million Chinese opium addicts.(12)
As Chinese immigrants began settling in Southeast Asia, the profitminded colonial governments decided to set up licensed opium dens to service the Chinese addicts. By the late nineteenth century the government opium den was as common as the pith helmet, and every nation and colony in Southeast Asiafrom North Borneo to Burma-had a state-regulated opium monopoly.(13) The indigenous population gradually picked up the habit, too, thus fostering a substantial-and growingconsumer market for opium among the Thais, Burmese, Vietnamese, and Malayans. While the health and vitality of the local population literally went up in smoke, the colonial governments thrived: opium sales provided as much as 40 percent of colonial revenues and financed the building of many Gothic edifices, railways, and canals that remain as the hallmark of the colonial era. (14)
Moreover, the growth of mass opium addiction throughout the nineteenth century prompted a rapid expansion of China's own opium production. As China's addict population began to grow in the early nineteenth century, the opium poppy spread out from its original home in mountainous Yunnan and Szechwan to most of the other provinces in southern and central China. Despite the proliferation of the poppy seed, opium was still an illegal crop, and sporadic enforcement of the ban served to limit cultivation even among remote hill tribes. Once opium imports were legalized in 1858, however, many officials no longer bothered to discourage local cultivation. Writing in the October 15, 1858, edition of the New York Daily Tribune, Karl Marx commented that "the Chinese Government will try a method recommended by political and financial considerations-viz: legalize the cultivation of poppy in China..." (15) Chinese provincial officials started encouraging local production and by the 1880s China's biggest opium-producing province, Szechwan, was harvesting an estimated ten thousand tons of raw opium annually. (16) In fact, the harvest in the opium-rich southern provinces was so bountiful that China's second largest opium-producing province, Yunnan, had begun exporting opium to Southeast Asia. In 1901 the governor-general of French Indochina reported that half of the opium retailed by the colony's opium monopoly was from neighboring Yunnan, and a French business periodical noted with interest that Yunnan was harvesting three thousand tons of raw opium annually. (17) In addition, cheap Yunnanese opium became the staple of Southeast Asia's growing illicit traffic. Unable to pay the outrageous prices demanded by the profit-hungry government monopolies, addicts in Burma, Thailand, and Indochina turned to the black market for supplies of smuggled Yunnanese opium. Every year vast mule caravans protected by hundreds of armed guards left Yunnan, crossed the ill-defined border into northeastern Burma, Thailand, and French Tonkin (northern Vietnam) carrying tons of illicit opium.(18)
Southeast Asia's own opium production began in the nineteenth century. At about the same time that opium production intensified in southern China, Yunnanese merchants and migrating Chinese hill tribes introduced the opium poppy into the adjoining mountains of Burma and Indochina. Prodded by the insatiable demands of addicts in China's coastal cities, Yunnanese traders moved into Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle region-comprising the rugged Shan hills of Burma, the serpentine ridges of northern Thailand, and the Meo highlands of Laos trading with the opium-growing tribesmen and propagating cash-crop opium farming. (For the Golden Triangle region see Map 5 on page 154.) Many of these tribesmen-particularly the Meo and Yao-had fled from southern China because of a brutal Chinese pacification campaign rather similar to the one launched by the U.S. Seventh Cavalry against the Great Plains Indians fifty years later. Throughout the nineteenth century, wave after wave of Meo and Yao tribesmen migrated into the mountains of Indochina, bringing with them the knowledge of poppy cultivation. Other such Southeast Asian hill tribes as the Lahu, Wa, Kachin, and Lisu straddled the border between northeastern Burma and western Yunnan Province. These Burmese tribes were economically oriented toward southern China and dealt with the same Yunnanese traders as their kinsmen in western Yunnan. When one British explorer traveled through hill tribe areas of northeastern Burma in the 1890s, he saw "miles of slopes covered with the poppy" and noted that the "fields climb up steep ravines and follow the sheltered sides of ridges. (19) Similarly, French colonial administrators traveling through Laos and Tonkin in the late nineteenth century observed that Meo and Yao tribesmen cultivated the opium poppy.(20)
Despite these promising early developments, Southeast Asia's hill tribes failed to keep pace with their kinsmen in southern China, and the Golden Triangle region did not develop large-scale opium production until the 1940s, a full fifty years after China.
The explanation for this half-century delay in the growth of the Golden Triangle's opium production is simple: British Burma, French Indochina, and the Kingdom of Thailand (Siam) did everything in their power to discourage their hill tribes from growing opium. While British India and imperial China generated revenues by producing and exporting opium, Southeast Asian governments gained their revenues from the sale of refined opium to addicts, not from the production and export of raw opium. Through their own official monopolies or licensed franchised dealers, Southeast Asian governments imported raw opium from abroad (usually India, China, or Iran), refined it into smoking opium, and then made an enormous profit by selling it to consumers at inflated prices. Official monopolies and franchises were continually raising prices to maximize their profits, and frequently forced addicts onto the black market, where smuggled Yunnanese opium was available at a more reasonable cost. Smuggling became the bane of official dealers, forcing their government sponsors to mount costly border patrols to keep cheaper opium out and to lower prices to win back customers. It was their concern over the smuggling problem that led colonial governments to reduce and restrict hill tribe opium production. Knowledgeable colonial officials felt that local hill tribe poppy cultivation would magnify the smuggling because: (1) customs officers patrolling the hills would find it impossible to distinguish between legitimate hill tribe opium and smuggled Yunnanese opium; and (2) the hill tribes would divert opium to the black market, adding to the flow of illicit supplies and further reducing government revenues. (21)
These concerns influenced colonial opium policy in the Golden Triangle from the very beginning of European rule in the northern borderlands of Burma and Indochina. After the British pacified northeastern Burma in the late 1880s, they made sporadic attempts at reducing tribal opium production along the Chinese border until 1923, when they launched a systematic campaign to reduce opium production in these areas. (22) Following their annexation of Tonkin (1884) and Laos (1893), French colonists experimented with large-scale commercial poppy plantations but consistently avoided promoting hill tribe production for almost fifty years. (23) Thus, while provincial officials in southern and western China were actively promoting poppy cultivation, colonial officials across the border in the Golden Triangle were either restraining or actively reducing hill tribe opium production. This difference accounts for the retarded development of Golden Triangle opium production.
The Royal Thai Opium Monopoly
Chinese immigrants arriving in Bangkok during the early nineteenth century found unparalleled employment opportunities as merchants, artisans, and craftsmen. They soon dominated Thailand's expanding commerce and became a majority in her major cities. In 1821 one Western observer calculated that there were 440,000 Chinese in Thailand; as early as 1880 other observers stated that more than half of Bangkok's population was Chinese.(24)
And with the Chinese came the opium problem. In 1811 King Rama 11 promulgated Thailand's first formal ban on the sale and consumption of opium. In 1839 another Thai king reiterated the prohibition and ordered the death penalty for major traffickers. But despite the good intentions of royal courts, legislative efforts were doomed to failure. Although Chinese distributors could be arrested and punished, the British merchant captains who smuggled the illicit narcotic were virtually immune to prosecution. Whenever a British captain was arrested, ominous rumblings issued from the British Embassy, and the captain was soon freed to smuggle in another cargo. Finally, in 1852 King Mongkut (played by Yul Brynner in The King and 1) bowed to British pressures and established a royal opium franchise that was leased to a wealthy Chinese merchant. (25)
In 1855 King Mongkut yielded to further British pressure and signed a commercial treaty with the British Empire in which he lowered import duties to 3 percent and abolished the royal trading monopolies, the fiscal basis of the royal administration. To replace these lost revenues, the King expanded the four Chinese-managed vice franchises-opium, lottery, gambling, and alcohol-which provided between 40 and 50 percent of all government revenues in the latter half of the nineteenth century. (26) In 1907 the government eliminated the Chinese middleman and assumed direct responsibility for the management of the opium trade. Royal administration did not impede progress, however; an alltime high of 147 tons of opium was imported from India in 1913; (27) the number of dens and retail shops jumped from twelve hundred in 1880 to three thousand in 1917;28 the number of opium addicts reached two hundred thousand by 1929(29) and the opium profits continued to provide between 15 and 20 percent of all government tax revenues. (30) Responding to mounting international opposition to legalized opium trafficking, the Thai government reduced the volume of the opium monopoly's business in the 1920s. By 1930 almost 2,000 shops and dens were closed, but the remaining 837 were still handling 89,000 customers a day.(31) The monopoly continued to reduce its services, so that by 1938 it only imported thirty-two tons of opium and generated 8 percent of government revenues.(32)
Unfortunately, these rather halfhearted measures had a minimal impact on the addict population, and did little more than give the smugglers more business and make their work more profitable. Because the royal monopoly had always sold only expensive Indian and Middle Eastern opium, cheaper opium had been smuggled overland from southern China since the mid nineteenth century. There was so much smuggling that the royal monopoly's prices throughout the country were determined by the availability of smuggled opium. The further an addict got from the northern frontier, the more he had to pay for his opium. (33)
Despite the ready market for illicit opium, there was surprisingly little poppy cultivation in Thailand until the late 1940s. Although large numbers of Meo and Yao. started moving into Indochina from southern China during the mid 1800s, it was not until shortly after World War II that substantial numbers of these highland opium farmers started crossing into Thailand from Laos. (34) Other opium-growing tribes-such as Akha, Lisu, and Lahu-took a more direct route, moving slowly southward through northern Burma before crossing into Thailand. Again, substantial numbers did not arrive until after World War 11, although small advance contingents began arriving in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Since the tribal population was small and their production so sporadic, their minuscule harvests rarely got much farther than the local trading towns at the base of the mountain ranges. For example, in Ban Wat, a small trading town south of Chiangmai, hill traders still recall that the opium business was so small in the prewar period that all of their opium was sold directly to Thai and Chinese addicts in the immediate area. Although they were close to Chiangmai, which was a major shipping point for forwarding illicit Chinese opium to Bangkok, the local production rarely ever got beyond neighboring towns and villages. (35) Nor was it possible for the lowland Thai peasants to cultivate the opium poppy. The Yunnan variety of the opium poppy that is grown in southern China And Southeast Asia only prospers in a cool temperate climate. And in these tropical latitudes, it must be grown in mountains above three thousand feet in elevation, where the air is cool enough for the sensitive poppy. Since the Thai peasants cling resolutely to the steamy lowland valleys where they cultivate paddy rice, opium production in Thailand, as in the rest of Southeast Asia, has become the work of mountain tribesmen.
Although Thailand was cut off from its major opium suppliers, Iran and Turkey, during World War II, it had no difficulty securing an adequate supply of raw opium for the royal monopoly. Through its military alliance with the Japanese Empire, Thailand occupied the Shan States in northeastern Burma and gained access to its opium-growing regions along the Chinese border. Moreover, the war in no way reduced Yunnan's exports to Southeast Asia. Both the Japanese army and the Nationalist Chinese government actively encouraged the opium traffic during the war. Even though they were at war with each other, the Nationalist Chinese government (which controlled the opium-growing provinces of southern China) sold enormous quantities of raw opium to the Japanese army (which occupied Burma and the coastal regions. (36) In addition, smuggler's caravans continued to filter across the border from Yunnan, providing substantial quantities of inexpensiveopium for Thai addicts. Thus, Thailand emerged from World War II with her enormous addict population intact and her dependence on imported opium undiminished. (37)
Burma: Sahibs in the Shan States
The British opium monopoly in Burma was one of the smallest and least profitable in all of Southeast Asia. Perhaps because Burma was administered as an appendage to their wealthy Indian Empire, British colonial officials in Burma were rarely plagued by acute fiscal deficits and never pursued the opium business with the same gusto as their counterparts in the rest of Southeast Asia.
Soon after their arrival in Lower Burma in 1852, the British had begun importing large quantities of opium from India and marketing it through a governmentcontrolled opium monopoly. However, in 1878 the British parliament passed the Opium Act and began to take steps to reduce opium consumption. Now opium could only be sold to registered Chinese opium smokers and Indian opium eaters, and it was absolutely illegal for any Burmese to smoke opium. However, a large number of Burmese had become introduced to the habit in the quartercentury of unrestricted sale before prohibition. (38) While the regulations succeeded in reducing opium profits to less than I percent of total colonial revenues in 1939 (39) -the lowest in Southeast Asia-they had limited success in controlling addiction. In 1930 a special League of Nations Commission of Inquiry reported that there were fifty-five thousand registered addicts buying from the government shops and an additional forty-five thousand using illicit opium smuggled from China or the Shan States. (40)
In 1886 the British acquired an altogether different sort of opium problem when they completed their piecemeal conquest of the Kingdom of Burma by annexing the northern half of the country. Among their new possessions were the Shan States located in Burma's extreme northeast-the only area of Southeast Asia with any significant hill tribe opium production. Flanking the western border of China's Yunnan Province, the Shan States are a rough mountainous region somewhat larger than England itself. While it did not take the British long to subdue the lowland areas of Upper Burma, many of the mountain tribes inhabiting the Shan States' vast, rugged terrain were never brought under their control. Until the very end of their suzerainty, opium from these hill tribe areas would continue to be smuggled into Lower Burma, mocking British efforts at reducing the addict population and cutting into the profits from their opium monopoly. Although the British made a number of efforts at abolishing opium cultivation in the Shan States, geography, ethnography, and politics ultimately defeated them.
The mountain ridges and wide rivers that crisscross the Shan States have their beginnings far to the north, in the mountains of Tibet. The jagged, east-west crescent of the Himalayan mountain range is twisted sharply to the south at the point where Tibet and China meet by the southward plunge of Asia's great rivers-the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, and Irrawaddy's tributaries. As the Irrawaddy's tributaries flow through the extreme northern tip of Burma-the Kachin State-they cut long north-south alluvial plains and relatively narrow upland valleys between the seven thousand- to ten thousand-foot mountain ridges. Soon after the Irrawaddy turns west near the Kachin State's southern border and spills out onto the broad plains of central Burma, the sharp mountains of the Kachin State give way to the wide plateaus of the western Shan States and the large upland valleys of the eastern Shan States.
It is this striking interplay of sharp mountain ranges and upland valleys-not any formal political boundary-that has determined the ethnic geography of the Shan and Kachin states. The Shans are lowland rice cultivators who keep to the flat, wide valleys where their buffalodrawn plows can till the soil and ample water is available for irrigation. Throughout the Kachin and Shan States the Shans are the only inhabitants of the valleys; if there are no Shans, then the valley is usually deserted. (41) Most practice some form of the Buddhist religion, and all speak a dialect of the Thai language (the same as that spoken by their neighbors across the border in northern Thailand). Their irrigated paddy fields have always produced a substantial surplus, providing for the formation of relatively large towns and strong governments. Generally, the larger valleys have become tiny autonomous principalities ruled over by feudal autocrats known as sawbwas and a clan of supporting nobility.
Ringing the upland valleys are mountain ridges inhabited by a wide variety of hill tribes. The hills of the Kachin State itself are populated mainly by Kachins. As we move south the Kachins thin out and the hills are populated with Wa, Pao, Lahu, and Palaung. All these mountain dwellers till the soil by cutting down the trees and burning the forest to clear land for dry rice, tea, and opium. Needless to say, this kind of agriculture is hard on the soil, and erosion and soil depletion force the hill tribes to seek new villages periodically. As a result, the political organization of the hill tribes is much less tightly structured than that of the Shans. Many of the tribes practice a form of village democracy while others, particularly some of the Kachins, have an aristocracy and a rigid class structure. (42) Whatever their own political structure might be, few of these tribes are large or concentrated enough to be truly autonomous, and most owe some allegiance to the feudal sawbwas, who control local commerce and have more powerful armies.
Thus, as British colonial officials traveled through the Shan States in the late 1880s and the early I 890s seeking native allies, they quickly discovered that the region's population of 1,200,000 Shans and tribesmen was ruled by thirtyfour independent autocrats called sawbwas. Their fiefdoms ranged from Kengtung (a little larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined) all the way down to several tiny fiefs with an area of less than twenty square miles. The British position was very insecure: the Shan territories east of the Salween River were tied economically to China, and many of the other sawbwas were considering changing their political allegiance to the king of Thailand. The British secured the sawbwas' wavering loyalties by "showing the flag" throughout the Shan States. In November 1887 two columns of about 250 men each set off to "conquer" the Shan States (43) Bluffing their way from state to state, the British convinced the sawbwas that the British Empire was far stronger than their meager forces might indicate, and thus deserving of their allegiance.
But the British were hardly eager to spend vast sums of money administering these enormous territories; and so, in exchange for the right to build railways and control foreign policy, they recognized the sawbwas' traditional powers and prerogatives." However, in granting the sawbwas control over their internal affairs, the British had doomed their future efforts at eradicating opium cultivation in northeastern Burma. The sawbwas received a considerable portion of the tribal opium harvest as tribute, and opium exports to Thailand and Lower Burma represented an important part of their personal income. However, after years of determined refusal, the sawbwas finally acceded to British demands for opium controls and in 1923 the Shan States Opium Act was passed into law. Growers were registered, attempts were made to buy up all the opium, (45) and the total harvest was gradually reduced from thirty-seven tons in 1926 to eight tons in 1936. But while the British were the police, army, and government in the rest of Burma, in the Shan States they were merely advisers, and there were limits to their power. Opium production was never fully eradicated, and the British soon abandoned their unpopular campaign. (46)
After World War 11, weakened by a devastating and costly war on the European continent, the British acceded to the rising demand and gave Burma its independence. But they had left a troublesome legacy. Although the new government was able to ban opium consumption completely with the Opium Den Suppression Act of 1950, (47) it found no solution to the problem of poppy cultivation in the trans-Salween Shan States. (48) The British had saddled the Burmese with autonomous sawbwas who would tolerate no interference in their internal affairs and steadfastly resisted any attempts at opium suppression. Although there was only limited opium production when the British left in 1947, the seeds had been planted from which greater things would grow.
French Indochina: The Friendly Neighborhood Opium Den
Vietnam was one of the first stops for Chinese immigrating from overpopulated Kwangtung and Fukien provinces in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. While the Vietnamese emperors welcomed the Chinese because of their valuable contributions to the nation's commercial development, they soon found the Chinese opium habit a serious economic liability. Almost all of Vietnam's foreign trade in the first half of the nineteenth century was with the ports of southern China. Vietnam's Chinese merchants managed it efficiently, exporting Vietnamese commodities such as rice, lacquer ware, and ivory to Canton to pay for the import of Chinese luxury and manufactured goods. However, in the 1830s British opium began flooding into southern China in unprecedented quantities, seriously damaging the entire fabric of SinoVietnamese trade. The addicts of southern China and Vietnam paid for their opium in silver, and the resulting drain of specie from both countries caused inflation and skyrocketing silver prices.(49)
The Vietnamese court was adamantly opposed to opium smoking on moral, as well as economic, grounds. Opium was outlawed almost as soon as it appeared, and in 1820 the emperor ordered that even sons and younger brothers of addicts were required to turn the offenders over to the authorities.(50)
The imperial court continued its efforts, which were largely unsuccessful, to restrict opium smuggling from China, until military defeat at the hands of the French forced it to establish an imperial opium franchise. In 1858 a French invasion fleet arrived off the coast of Vietnam, and after an abortive attack on the port of Danang, not far from the royal capital of Hue sailed south to Saigon, where they established a garrison and occupied much of the nearby Mekong Delta. Unable to oust the French from their Saigon beachhead, the Vietnamese emperor finally agreed to cede the three provinces surrounding Saigon to the French and to pay an enormous long-term indemnity worth 4 million silver francs. But the opium trade with southern China had disrupted the Vietnamese economy so badly that the court found it impossible to meet this onerous obligation without finding a new source of revenue. Yielding to the inevitable, the emperor established an opium franchise in the northern half of the country and ]eased it to Chinese merchants at a rate that would enable him to pay off the indemnity in twelve years. (51)
More significant in the long run was the French establishment of an opium franchise to put their new colony on a paying basis only six months after they annexed Saigon in 1862. Opium was imported from India, taxed at 10 percent of* value, and sold by licensed Chinese merchants to all comers. (52) Opium became an extremely lucrative source of income, and this successful experiment was repeated as the French acquired other areas in Indochina. Shortly after the French established a protectorate over Cambodia (1863) and central Vietnam (1883), and annexed Tonkin (northern Vietnam, 1884) and Laos (1893), they founded autonomous opium monopolies to finance the heavy initial expenses of colonial rule. While the opium franchise had succeeded in putting southern Vietnam on a paying basis within several years, the rapid expansion of French holdings in the 1880s and 1890s created a huge fiscal deficit for Indochina as a whole. Moreover, a hodgepodge administration of five separate colonies was a model of inefficiency, and hordes of French functionaries were wasting what little profits these colonies generated. While a series of administrative reforms repaired much of the damage in the early 1890s, continuing fiscal deficits still threatened the future of French Indochina. (53)
The man of the hour was a former Parisian budget analyst named Paul Doumer, and one of his solutions was opium. Soon after he stepped off the boat from France in 1897, Governor-General Doumer began a series of major fiscal reforms: a job freeze was imposed on the colonial bureaucracy, unnecessary expenses were cut, and the five autonomous colonial budgets were consolidated under a centralized treasury.(54) But most importantly, Doumer reorganized the opium business in 1899, expanding sales and sharply reducing expenses. After consolidating the five autonomous opium agencies into the single Opium Monopoly, Doumer constructed a modern, efficient opium refinery in Saigon to process raw Indian resin into prepared smoker's opium. The new factory devised a special mixture of prepared opium that burned quickly, thus encouraging the smoker to consume more opium than be might ordinarily. (55) Under his direction, the Opium Monopoly made its first purchases of cheap opium from China's Yunnan Province so that government dens and retail shops could expand their clientele to include the poorer workers who, could not afford the high-priced Indian brands. (56) More dens and shops were opened to meet expanded consumer demand (in 1918 there were 1,512 dens and 3,098 retail shops). Business boomed.
As Governor-General Doumer himself has proudly reported, these reforms increased opium revenues by 50 percent during his four years in office, accounting for over one-third of all colonial revenues.(57) For the first time in over ten years there was a surplus in the treasury. Moreover, Doumer's reforms gave French investors new confidence in the Indochina venture, and he was able to raise a 200 million franc loan, which financed a major public works program, part of Indochina's railway network, and many of the colony's hospitals and schools. (58)
Nor did the French colonists have any illusions about how they were financing Indochina's development. When the government announced plans to build a railway up the Red River valley into China's Yunnan Province, a spokesman for the business community explained one of its primary goals: "It is particularly interesting, at the moment one is about to vote funds for the construction of a railway to Yunnan, to search for ways to augment the commerce between the province and our territory.... The regulation of commerce in opium and salt in Yunnan might be adjusted in such a way as to facilitate commerce and increase the tonnage carried on our railway." (59)
While a vigorous international crusade against the "evils of opium" during the 1920s and 1930s forced other colonial administrations in Southeast Asia to reduce the scope of their opium monopolies, French officials remained immune to such moralizing. When the Great Depression of 1929 pinched tax revenues, they managed to raise opium monopoly profits (which had been declining) to balance the books. Opium revenues climbed steadily, and by 1938 accounted for 15 percent of all colonial tax revenues-the highest in Southeast Asia. (60)
In the long run, however, the Opium Monopoly weakened the French position in Indochina. Vietnamese nationalists pointed out the Opium Monopoly as the ultimate example of French exploitation. (61) Some of Ho Chi Minh's most bitter propaganda attacks were reserved for those French officials who managed the monopoly. In 1945 Vietnamese nationalists reprinted this French author's description of a smoking den and used it as revolutionary propaganda:
Let's enter several opium dens frequented by the coolies, the longshoremen for the port.
The door opens on a long corridor; to the left of the entrance, is a window where one buys the drug. For 50 centimes one gets a small five gram box, but for several hundred, one gets enough to stay high for several days.
Just past the entrance, a horrible odor of corruption strikes your throat. The corridor turns, turns again, and opens on several small dark rooms, which become veritable labyrinths lighted by lamps which give off a troubled yellow light. The walls, caked with dirt, are indented with long niches. In each niche a man is spread out like a stone. Nobody moves when we pass. Not even a glance. They are glued to a small pipe whose watery gurgle alone breaks the silence. The others are terribly immobile, with slow gestures, legs strung out, arms in the air, as if they had been struck dead . . . The faces are characterized by overly white teeth; the pupils with a black glaze, enlarged, fixed on god knows what; the eyelids do not move; and on the pasty cheeks, this vague, mysterious smile of the dead. It was an awful sight to see walking among these cadavers.(62)
This kind of propaganda struck a responsive chord among the Vietnamese people, for the social costs of opium addiction were heavy indeed. Large numbers of plantation workers, miners, and urban laborers spent their entire salaries in the opium dens. The strenuous work, combined with the debilitating effect of the drug and lack of food, produced some extremely emaciated laborers, who could only be described as walking skeletons. Workers often died of starvation, or more likely their families did. While only 2 percent of the population were addicts, the toll among the Vietnamese elite was considerably greater. With an addiction rate of almost 20 percent, the native elite, most of whom were responsible for local administration and tax collection, were made much less competent and much more liable to corruption by their expensive opium habits. (63) In fact, the village official who was heavily addicted to opium became something of a symbol for official corruption in Vietnamese literature of the 1930s. The Vietnamese novelist Nguyen Cong Hoan has given us an unforgettable portrait of such a man:
Still the truth is that Representative Lai is descended from the tribe of people which form the world's sixth race. For if he were white, he would have been a European; if yellow, he would have been an Asian; if red, an American; if brown, an Australian; and if black, an African. But he was a kind of green, which is indisputably the complexion of the race of drug addicts.
By the time the Customs officer came in, Representative Lai was already decently dressed. He pretended to be in a hurry. Nevertheless, his eyelids were still half closed, and the smell of opium was still intense, so that everyone could guess that he had just been through a "dream session." Perhaps the reason he had felt he needed to pump himself full of at least ten pipes of opium was that he imagined it might somehow reduce his bulk, enabling him to move about more nimbly.
He cackled, and strode effusively over to the Customs officer as if he were about to grab an old friend to kiss. He bowed low and, with both of his hands, grasped the Frenchman's hand and stuttered,
"Greetings to your honor, why has your honor not come here in such a long time?"(64)
The Opium Crisis of 1939-1945
At the beginning of World War 11 Indochina's 2,500 opium dens and retail shops were still maintaining more than 100,000 addicts and providing 15 percent of all tax revenues. The French imported almost sixty tons of opium annually from Iran and Turkey to supply this vast enterprise. However, as World War 11 erupted across the face of the globe, trade routes were blocked by the battle lines and Indochina was cut off from the poppy fields in the Middle East. Following the German conquest of France in the spring of 1940 and the Japanese occupation of Indochina several months later, the British Navy imposed an embargo on shipping to Indochina. Although the Japanese military occupation was pleasant enough for most French officials who were allowed to go on administering Indochina, it created enormous problems for those who had to manage the Opium Monopoly. Unless an alternate source of opium could be found, the colony would be faced with a major fiscal crisis.
While smuggled Yunnanese opium might solve the addicts' problem, the Opium Monopoly needed a more controllable source of supply. The only possible solution was to induce the Meo of Laos and northwest 'Tonkin to expand their opium production, and in 1940 the Opium Monopoly proceeded to do just that.
However, as French officials embarked on this massive poppy production campaign, some of the more experienced of them must have had their doubts about the chances of success. Past efforts at either expanding Meo opium production or reducing the amount of opium they diverted to smugglers had sparked at least two major revolts and countless bloody incidents. Only three years after the French arrived in Laos, ill-advised demands for increased opium deliveries from Meo farmers in the Plain of Jars region had prompted these independent tribesmen to attack the local French garrison. (65) Later French mismanagement of their opium dealings with the Meo had been a contributing factor in the massive Meo uprising that swept across Laos and Tonkin from 1919 until 1922. (66) Their attempts at dealing with the smuggling problem were even more disastrous. In 1914 a French crackdown on Yunnanese opium smugglers provoked one of the most violent anti-French uprisings in Laotian history. After French colonial officials started harassing their caravans trading in the Plain of Jars region, Yunnanese opium traders led thousands of hill tribesmen into revolt and occupied an entire Laotian province for almost a year, until two French regiments finally drove them back into China. (67) Despite this long history of armed insurgency in response to French attempts at dealing with smugglers and Meo opium farmers, the Opium Monopoly had no choice but to expand the Meo production and repress smuggling so that the increased harvests would not become contraband. The fiscal consequences of doing nothing were too serious, and the French had to accept the risk of provoking a bloody uprising in the hills.
As the Opium Monopoly set out to transform the tribal opium economy in 1939-1940, instructions similar to these were telegrammed to colonial officials throughout the highlands advising them on how to expand poppy cultivation:
"Your role may be summed up as follows:
-survev the cultivations and know as exactly as possible the surface cultivated;
-repress clandestine traffic."(68)
However, the French devised new tactics to increase the chances of their success and minimize the risk of violence. No longer were customs officers sent out with heavily armed horsemen to patrol the highland ridges and market towns for smugglers; instead, they were given pack horses loaded with cloth, silver, and trade goods and ordered to eliminate the smugglers by outbidding them. Rather than sending out French officers to persuade the tribesmen to increase their opium crops and creating possible occasions for ugly incidents, the Opium Monopoly instead selected prestigious tribal leaders as their opium brokers. These leaders relayed the new demand for opium to the tribesmen, imposed whatever particular tax or law was most likely to induce compliance, and delivered the opium to French officials after paying the farmer a negotiated price.
Purely from the viewpoint of increasing opium production, this policy was a substantial success. Indochina's opium production jumped from 7.5 tons in 1940 to 60.6 tons in 1944-an 800 percent increase in four years. This was enough to maintain an adequate supply for Indochina's 100,000-plus addicts and produce a steady rise in government opium revenues-from 15 million piasters in 1939 to 24 million in 1943. (69)
In exchange for their cooperation, the French supported the political aspirations of tribal leaders. The most important opium-growing regions in Indochina were Xieng Khouang Province in northeastern Laos and the Tai country of northeastern Tonkin. Both regions had a high concentration of opium-growing Meo tribesmen and lay astride major communication routes. By choosing Touby Lyfoung as their opium broker in Xieng Khouang Province, and Deo Van Long for the Tai country, the French made political commitments that were to have unforeseen consequences for the future of their colonial rule.
The Meo of Laos: Politics of the Poppy
For over twenty years Touby Lyfoung and his family had been locked in a bitter, tense struggle for political control of the Meo of Meng Khouang Province with another powerful Meo family, the Lo clan. It was a contest of chesslike subtlety in which key political moves were planned years in advance, and carefully calculated to slowly reinforce one side's position without pushing the other side too far. Suddenly the French intervened on the side of Touby Lyfoung's family, overturning the chessboard, and changing the game into a life-and-death struggle.
Even today, when tribesmen are asked to explain why so many Meo have died fighting for both the royal government and the Communist Pathet Lao over the last ten years, they will relate the fifty-year history of this clan struggle. And if the listener is particularly patient, they will begin at the beginning and tell the whole story.
While they have no historical archives and few written records, the Meo attach enormous importance to their collective past, and have an uncanny ability to recall precise dates and details of events that took place fifty to a hundred years ago. They view history as a causally related chain of events, thus perceiving their current problems not only in terms of the immediate past, but in terms of decisions made two or three generations ago. However, their profound sense of history is crippled by parochial vision; foreign actors have only a dimly perceived role in their pageant, even though all of the monumental decisions that have affected the Meo-from their systematic slaughter in the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries at the hands of the Chinese to the massive bombing by the U.S. air force today-have been made unilaterally in the foreign capitals of great empires and superpowers. And even on this artificially restricted historical stage there are only a few leading actors; in the minds of the Meo, events are determined, not by social conditions or mass aspirations, but, as in a 'Greek tragedy, by the personal strength and weakness of great leaders.
The Meo in Laos today can still recall that there were "great Meo kingdoms" in the highland plateaus of southern China several hundred years ago. In fact, Chinese imperial archives show that large numbers of Meo lived in southwestern China (Szechwan, Yunnan, Hunan, and Kweichow provinces) for over two thousand years. Even today there are more than 2.5 million Meo living in the mountains of these four provinces. Until the seventeenth century, these rugged provinces were of little importance to the imperial court in Peking, and the emperors were generally content as long as the Meo nobles sent regular tribute. In exchange, the emperor decorated the Meo leaders with noble titles and recognized the legitimacy of their autonomous kingdoms. (70) When the emperors of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), for example, were confronted with Meo dissidence, they rarely sent in exterminating armies. Instead they weakened the powerful Meo kingdoms by appointing more kings and nobles, thereby creating a host of squabbling tribal principalities. (71)
This policy of indirect rule produced a rather curious political hybrid. In the midst of an imperial China divided into systematic provinces and governed by a meritocracy respected for their erudition, there sprang up a random mosaic of Meo fiefs. These kingdoms were ruled by hereditary "little kings," known as kaitong, who commanded a quasireligious reverence from their subjects. Each kingdom was dominated by a different clan, the kaitong and the ruling aristocracy usually sharing the same family name. (72) But trouble descended on the Meo tribes after the Manchu dynasty was established in 1644. Among their many bureaucratic innovations, the Manchus decided to abolish the autonomy of the Meo kingdoms and integrate them into the regular bureaucracy. When this policy met with resistance, the Manchus began to exterminate these troublesome tribes and to repopulate their lands with the more pliable ethnic Chinese. (73) After a two hundred-year extermination campaign culminated in a series of bloody massacres in the mid nineteenth century, thousands of Meo tribesmen fled southward toward Indochina.(74)
Most of the retreating Meo moved in a southeasterly direction and burst upon northern Vietnam's Tonkin Delta like an invading army. But the Vietnamese army drove the Meo back into the mountains without too much difficulty since the invaders were weakened by the humid delta climate and frightened by the Vietnamese elephant battalions. (75) The defeated Meo scattered into the Vietnamese highlands, finally settling in semipermanent mountain villages.
Three Meo kaitong, however, avoided the headlong rush for the Tonkin Delta and turned to the west, leading their clans past Dien Bien Phu and into northeastern Laos. One of these clans was the Ly, from southern Szechwan Province. Their kaitong had been the leader of the Meo resistance in Szechwan, and when the Chinese massacres began in 1856 he ordered his four sons to lead the survivors south while he remained to hold back the Chinese armies. His third son, Ly Nhiavu, was invested with the title of kaitong, and he led the survivors on a year-long march that ended in Nong Het District in Laos, near the Lao-Vietnamese border (76) (see Map 6 on page 251). The hills surrounding Nong Het were uninhabited and the rich soil was ideal for their slash-and-burn agriculture. The location had already attracted two other refugee clansthe Mua and Lo. Since the Lo kaitong was the first to arrive, he became the nominal leader of the region. As the word spread back to China and Vietnam that the Laotian hills were fertile and unoccupied, thousands of Meo began to migrate southward. Since no other kaitong arrived to rival the original triumvirate, Nong Het remained the most important Meo political center in Laos.
Soon after the French arrived in 1893, their colonial officers began purchasing opium for the Laotian Opium Monopoly, and ordered the Meo to increase their production. Outraged that the French had failed to consult with him before making the demand, the Lo kaitong ordered an attack on the provincial headquarters in Xieng Khouang City. But Meo flintlocks were no match for modern French rifles, and their uprising was quickly squelched. Humiliated by his defeat, the Lo kaitong conceded his position in the triumvirate to the Mua kaitong. The French, however, were considerably chastened by their first attempt at dealing directly with the Meo, and thereafter dealt with them only through their own leaders or through Lao administrators.
Until the opium crisis of 1940 forced them to intervene in Meo politics once more, the French exercised a more subtle influence over tribal affairs. But they still had ultimate political authority, and those Meo leaders ambitious and clever enough to ingratiate themselves with the French could not fail to gain a powerful advantage. Ly Foung and his son Touby Lyfoung were such men.
Although Ly Foung was a member of the Ly clan, he was no relation to kaitong Ly Nhiavu or his aristocratic family. Ly Foung's father had arrived in Nong Het as a porter for a Chinese merchant in 1865, eight years after kaitong Ly Nhiavu. Although Ly Foung's father asked Ly Nhiavu and his three brothers to accept him as a fellow clansman, they refused. He was from Yunnan, not Szechwan, and his willingness to work as a porter-a virtual slave-for a hated Chinese made him unacceptable in the eyes of the Ly aristocrats. (77)
Rejected by the aristocracy, Ly Foung's father founded his own small village in the Nong Het area and married a local tribeswoman, who bore him a large family. Unfortunately, some of his children were born with serious congenital defects, and he had to center all of his ambitions on his third son, Ly Foung, who grew up to become a remarkable linguist, speaking Chinese and Lao fluently and having an adequate command of Vietnamese and French. Ly Foung, realizing that kinship and marriage ties were the basis of power among the Meo, set out to marry into kaitong Lo Bliayao's family. Reportedly a rather strong, hard man, Bliayao's undeniable talents as a leader had enabled him to establish himself as the premier kaitong of Nong Het.
The traditional Meo wedding is unusual. When a young man has decided he wants to marry a particuluar woman, he forcibly abducts her with the help of his friends and bundles her off to a makeshift forest cabin until the marriage is consummated. The custom is declining in popularity today, and even in its heyday the kidnapping was usually not performed unless the parents gave their tacit consent. In 1918 Ly Foung decided to marry Lo Bliayao's favorite daughter, May, but instead of consulting with the father himself, Ly Foung reportedly paid the bride's uncle to arrange the abduction. Whatever Bliayao may have thought before the marriage (there are reports that he disliked Ly Foung), he made no protest, and hired Ly Foung as his personal assistant and secretary (78) ' Although May gave birth to Touby (the current Meo political leader) in August 1919 and to a healthy daughter as well, the marriage was not a happy one. During a particularly bitter quarrel in their fourth year of marriage, Ly Foung beat May severely. She became despondent and committed suicide by eating a fatal dosage of opium. In his rage and grief, Lo Bliayao fired Ly Foung as his secretary and severed all ties with the Ly clan.(79)
To avoid what looked like an inevitable confrontation between the Lo and Ly clans, the French accepted the Meo suggestion of separating the feuding clans by dividing Nong Het District into two administrative districts. Lo Bliayao's eldest son was appointed chief of Keng Khoai District, and several years later Ly Foung's elder son was appointed chief of Phac Boun District.(80)
The division of Nong Het District was accepted without protest, and the quarreling ceased. In December 1935, however, kaitong Lo Bliayao died, severing the last link with the "Great Meo Kingdoms" of southern China and creating serious political problems for the Lo clan. Lo Bliayao's eldest son and successor, Song Tou, was in no way his equal. Devoting his time to gambling and hunting, Song Tou avoided his political responsibilities, and soon dealt a serious blow to his family's prestige by mismanaging local tax collection and losing his position as chief of Keng Khoai District. (81) When Ly Foung agreed almost immediately to make up the taxes Song Tou lost, the French colonial government appointed him district chief.
It was a great victory for the Ly Foung family. A mere seventy years after his father had been rejected by the Ly aristocrats, Ly Foung had made himself leader of the Ly clan and the most powerful Meo in Nong Het. With Nong Het's two districts governed by himself and his son, Ly Foung had excluded the Lo from all the high political offices open to the Meo and secured a monopoly on political power.
The Lo clan's decline deeply disturbed Song Tou's younger brother, Faydang. who had inherited his father's strong character. Shortly after Ly Foung assumed office, Lo Faydang set off on a 120-mile journey to the Lao royal capital, Luang Prabang, where he petitioned the popular Prince Phetsarath, widely renowned as one of the few Lao aristocrats with any sympathy for the hill tribes. The prince interceded on his behalf, and got everyone involved-the French, Ly Foung, and Laotian aristocrats-to agree that Faydang would become district chief of Keng Khoai when ,death or illness removed Ly Foung from office. (82) (The prince's support was not forgotten. In 1946, when the prince fled into exile as a leader of the insurgent Lao Nationalist movement, he left Faydang behind as his representative among the Meo and one of his most active guerrilla commanders. Today Faydang is vice-chairman of the Pathet Lao revolutionary movement, while his nephew, Touby, has become a political leader of the pro-government Meo.)
But when Ly Foung died in September 1939, the French broke their promise to Faydang and gave the post to Ly Foung's son, Touby. They had regarded Faydang's petition to the royal court two years before as an act of insubordination and were unwilling to entrust Faydang with any authority in the region. Chastened by their earlier experiences with the tribes, the French were only interested in dealing with tribal leaders of proven loyalty who would act as brokers to purchase the opium harvest and reduce the amount diverted to smugglers.
While Faydang was a possible troublemaker, Touby's loyalty and competence were proven. His father had understood how much the French valued a good colonial education, and Touby was the first Meo ever to attend high school, graduating from the Vinh Lycee in the spring of 1939 with a good academic record. When Ly Foung died that September, both Touby and Faydang clearly intended to present themselves before the assembly of Keng Khoai village headmen for election to the now vacant office of district chief. Without any explanation, the French commissioner announced that Faydang was disbarred from the election. Touby ran virtually unopposed and won an overwhelming victory. (83)
With the outbreak of World War II, the French launched a massive effort to boost tribal opium production and Touby's political future was guaranteed. Several months after his election Touby began an eight-year tenure as the only Meo member of the Opium Purchasing Board, providing valuable technical information on how best to expand Meo production. (84) In Nong Het region itself, former residents recall that Touby raised the annual head tax from three silver piasters to an exorbitant eight piasters, but gave the tribesmen the alternative of paying three kilograms of raw opium instead.(85) Most Meo were too poor to save eight silver piasters a year, and took the alternative of paying in opium. Since an average Meo farmer probably harvested less than one kilogram of raw opium a year before Touby's election, the tax increases precipitated an opium boom in Nong Het. With its fertile hills, excellent communications (Laos's major road to the sea passed through the district), and concentrated Meo population, Nong Het became one of Indochina's most productive opium-growing areas.
Moreover, these measures were applied to Meo districts all across northern Laos, changing the hill tribe economy from subsistence agriculture, to cashcrop opium farming. Touby himself feels that Laos's opium harvest more than doubled during this period, rising to as much as thirty or forty tons a year. As one French colonial official put it, "Opium used to be one of the nobles of the land; today it is king. (86)
Although Faydang pleaded continually throughout the Second World War with French authorities to install him as district officer as they had promised, the opium imperative tied the French firmly to Touby. Faced with a situation where two clans in a village or district were incompatible, the Meo usually separated them by splitting the village or district, as they had done earlier in Nong Het. But the French were firmly behind Touby, who could guarantee them an increasing supply of opium, and rejected Faydang's requests. As a result of their opium policy, Touby became a loyal autocrat, while Faydang became increasingly embittered toward colonial rule. The French betrayal of Faydang was probably a significant factor in his evolution as 'one of Laos's more important revolutionary leaders. Moreover, the French policy created intolerable tensions between the Lo and Ly clans-tensions that exploded at the first opportunity.
After the Japanese surrender in August 1945 the Laotian and Vietnamese (Viet Minh) nationalist movements took advantage of the weakened French posture to occupy the major cities and towns. Throughout Indochina the French began to gather intelligence, seize strategic points, and generally maximize their minimal resources to prepare for reoccupation. Realizing the strategic importance of the Plain of Jars, the Free French had parachuted commandos and arms into secret bases set up for them by Touby Lyfoung and his followers in 1944 and 1945.(87) Then, on September 3, French officers and Touby's Meo commandos reoccupied Xieng Khouang City, near the Plain of Jars, without firing a shot. Touby was sent back to Nong Het to secure the region and guard the mountain pass leading into Vietnam against a possible Viet Minh assault. Doubting Faydang's loyalty to the French, Touby sent a messenger to his village demanding that he declare his loyalty. (88) Although Faydang had not yet made contact with the Viet Minh or the Lao nationalist movement, he refused. Now that Touby had some modern arms and surplus ammunition, he decided to settle the matter once and for all. He sent sixty men to encircle the village and massacre the Lo clansmen. But Faydang had been expecting the move and had ordered the villagers to sleep in the fields. When the attack began, Faydang and some two hundred of his followers fled across the border to Muong Sen and made contact, for the first time, with the Viet Minh. (89) Guiding a Viet Minh column into Laos several months later, Faydang urged his fellow Lo clansmen to rise in revolt, and several hundred of them followed him back into North Vietnam.
When Faydang began to organize the guerrilla movement later known as the Meo Resistance League, the oppressive French opium tax administered by Touby was evidently a major factor in his ability to recruit followers. During World War 11, many Meo had been driven into debt by the onerous tax, and some of the poorer farmers had been forced to sell their children in order- to deliver a sufficient amount of opium. (90) According to Faydang's own account, the Meo began joining his movement "with great enthusiasm" after he abolished the opium tax and introduced some other major reforms in 1946. (91)
Today, more than thirty years after the French began boosting Meo opium production, almost thirty thousand of Touby's followers are fighting as mercenaries for the CIA. And on the other side of the battle lines, thousands of Faydang's Meo errillas have joined the Pathet Laorevolutionary movement. This simple clan conflict, which was pushed to the breaking point by the French opium imperative, has become a permanent fissure and has helped to fuel twenty-five years of Laotian civil war.
Opium in the Tai Country: Denouement at Dien Bien Phu
With the exception of Laos, the largest opium-producing region in Indochina was the adjacent area of northwestern Tonkin (now part of North Vietnam) known as the Tai country. The ethnic geography is quite similar to that of the Shan States of Burma; the upland valleys are inhabited by wet-rice farmers at altitudes unsuitable for poppy cultivation. But on the cool mountain ridges live Meo tribesmen whose highland slash-and-burn agriculture is ideal for poppy cultivation. Since the Meo of northwestern Tonkin had no large population centers or powerful political leaders like Lo Bliayao and Ly Foung, French efforts to organize local militia or regular civil administration in the 1930s had consistently failed. (92) In contrast, the French found it easy to work with the valley populations, the White Tai and Black Tai.
Consequently, as French administrators mapped their strategy for expanding opium production in northwestern Tonkin in 1940, they decided not to work directly with the Meo as they were doing in Laos. Instead, they allied themselves with powerful Tai feudal leaders who controlled the lowland market centers and most of the region's commerce. To make the Tai leaders more effective opium brokers, the French suspended their forty-year policy of culturally Vietnamizing the Tai by administering the country with Vietnamese bureaucrats.
Although the French had confirmed the authority of Deo Van Tri, White Tai ruler of Lai Chau, when they first pacified the Tai country in the 1890s, they had gradually reduced the authority of his successors until they were little more than minor district chiefs. (93) Potentially powerful leaders like Deo Van Tri's second son, Deo Van Long, had been sent to school in Hanoi and posted to minor positions in the Tonkin Delta. However, in 1940 the French reversed this policy in order to use the Tai leaders as opium brokers. Deo Van Long returned to Lai Chau as a territorial administrator. (94) In exchange for French political support, Deo Van Long and the other Tai leaders negotiated with their Meo mountain neighbors for the purchase of opium and sent the increased harvest to the Opium Monopoly in Saigon for refining and sale. After 1940 these feudal chiefs forced Meo farmers to expand their opium harvest; (95) by the war's end there were 4.5 to 5.0 tons of Meo opium available for shipment to Saigon.(96)
This use of Tai leaders as opium brokers may have been one of the most significant administrative decisions the French made during their entire colonial rule. For, in 1954, the French decided to risk the outcome of the First Indochina War on a single decisive battle in a remote mountain valley of northwestern Tonkin named Dien Bien Pbu. The French commanders, boning to protect their ongoing operations in the Tai country and block a Viet Minh offensive into Laos, felt it would be impossible for the Viet Minh to bring in and set up artillery on the ridges overlooking the new fortress. They planned a trap for the Viet Minh, who would be destroyed in the open valley by French aircraft and artillery fire. But on the commanding mountain ridges lived the Meo who had been cheated and underpaid for their opium for almost fifteen years by Tai feudal leaders, who were closely identified with the French.
Thousands of these Meo served as porters for the Viet Minh and eagerly scouted the ridges they knew so well for ideal gun emplacements. The well-placed Viet Minh artillery batteries crumbled the French fortificafions at Dien Bien Phu and France's colonial empire along with them. France's century of official involvement in the Asian opium trade had come to an end.
Into the Postwar Era
The Southeast Asian opium economy emerged from World War 11 essentially unchanged. The amount of opium harvested in what would later become the world's largest opium-producing area, Burma and northern Thailand, had increased very little, if at all. True, Indochina's total production had grown to sixty tons-a 600 percent increase-but Laos's total, only thirty tons, was still a long way from its estimated 1968 production of one hundred to one hundred fifty tons. On balance, the Golden Triangle region of Burma, Thailand, and Laos was still producing less than eighty tons annually-insignificant when compared with today's production of one thousand tons.
While Southeast Asia had not produced enough opium to make itself selfsufficient, the moderate increases in local production, combined with smuggled Yunnanese opium, were sufficient to maintain the seriously addicted and the affluent. Although Southeast Asian consumers faced rising prices-monopoly prices in Indochina for a kilogram increased 500 percent from 1939 to 1943-they experienced nothing comparable to the collective "cold turkey" of American addicts during World War 11. (97) Thus, the core of Southeast Asia's opium consumers emerged from the war intact.
Immediately after the war foreign opium supplies reappeared; Iranian opium was imported legally by the Thai and French opium monopolies, while overland smuggling from China's Yunnan Province flourished. Not only was prewar consumer demand restored, but the addict population grew steadily. Prior to World War 11 in Thailand, for example, there were an estimated 110,000 addicts; there are now 250,000.(98) While there were such promising exceptions in the region as Singapore and Malaysia, whose addict population dropped from an estimated 186,000 before the war to 40,000 today,(99) the number of addicts in Southeast Asia as a whole has increased substantially since the prewar period.
Yet within ten years after the end of World War 11, Southeast Asia was totally cut off from all the foreign opium on which its addicts had depended. By 1955 three governmental decisions created a serious crisis in international opium trade and denied Southeast Asia all its foreign opium. In 1953 the major opiumproducing countries in Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia signed the U.N. Protocol and agreed not to sell opium on the international market for legalized smoking or eating. Although this international accord ended large shipments of Iranian opium to the Thai and French opium monopolies, international smugglers simply took over the Iranian government's role.
A far more serious blow to the Southeast Asian opium economy had come in 1949, when the Chinese People's Liberation Army won the civil war and drove the last remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Army out of Yunnan Province. Yunnan had always been too far from large urban centers along the coast to supply any significant percentage of China's addicts, and almost all of its vast poppy harvest had been smuggled southward into Southeast Asia. When the People's Liberation Army began patrolling the border in the early 1950s to prevent an expected counterattack by CIA-supported Nationalist Chinese troops, most opium caravans were halted. By the mid 1950s People's Republic agriculturalists and party workers had introduced substitute crops, and any possible opium seepage into Southeast Asia ceased. (100)
In a 1970 report entitled The World Opium Situation, the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs described the magnitude of China's decision:
The world market for opium has experienced dynamic change-including two major upheavals-from the beginning of the post war period down to the present. In order of importance the landmark events were (I) the shut down of China's vast illicit market with the change of governments there in 1949 and (2) the abolition of cultivation in Iran after 1955 coupled with the rapid suppression of China's illicit production at about the same time. (101)
With the end of China's illicit contribution to Southeast Asia's opium supplies, Iran became the region's major supplier in the early 1950s. In 1953, for example, Iranian opium accounted for 47 percent of all opium seized by Singapore police and customs and a higher percentage in Southeast Asian nations.(102) Most of Iran's illegally diverted opium smuggled eastward to Southeast Asia, but a substantial portion was sent to Lebanon, the Arab states, and Europe. However, in 1950 began to reduce production sharply; exports declined from 246 tons in 1950 to 41 tons in 1954.(103) The final blow came in 1955, when the Iranian government announced the complete abolition of opium growing. After Iran's abolition in 1955 Turkey filled the void in the west, but Southeast Asia was now at a crossroads. (104)
These dramatic events, which had changed the pattern of the international narcotics traffic, were the result of governmental action; and it would take equally bold initiatives on the part of Southeast Asia's governments if mass opium addiction were to survive. Decisions of this magnitude were not within the realm of the petty smugglers and traffickers who had supplied the region's poor addicts with Yunnanese and Shan States opium. Almost without exception it has been governmental bodies -not criminals-whose decisions have made the major changes in the international narcotics trade. It was the French colonial government that expanded Indochina's production during World War 11, the Chinese government that had scaled the border and phased out Yunnan's opium production, and the Iranian government that had decreed that Iran would no longer be Asia's major supplier of illicit opium.
And in the 1950s the Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, and American governments made critical decisions that resulted in the expansion of Southeast Asia's opium production to feed the habits of the region's growing addict population and transform the Golden Triangle into the largest single opium-producing area in the world.
3 The Colonial Legacy: Opium for the Natives
1. Stephan A. Resnick, A Socio-Economic Interpretation of the Decline of Rural Industry Under Export Expansion: A Comparison Among Burma, Philippines and Thailand, 1870-1938 (New Haven, Conn.: Economic Growth Center, Yale University, 1969), pp. 8-13.
2. Rhoads Murphey, "Traditionalism and Colonialism: Changing Urban Roles in Asia," Journal of Asian Studies 29, no. 1 (November 1969), 68-69.
3. J. C. van Leur, Indonesian Trade and Society (Bandung: Sumur Bandung, 1960), pp. 96-97.
4. Stephan A. Resnick, Lectures, Yale University, New Haven, Conn., 1969-1970.
5. Jonathan Spence, Opium Smoking in Ch'ing China (Honolulu: Conference on Local Control and Protest During the Ching Period, 1971), pp. 5-8.
6. John Bastin and Harry J. Benda, A History of Modern Southeast Asia (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-HaIl, 1968), pp. 33-35.
7. John K. Fairbank, Edwin 0. Reischauer, and Albert M. Craig, East Asia: The Modern Transformation (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,1965),p.131.
8. Murphey, "Traditionalism and Colonialism: Changing Urban Roles in Asia," pp. 74-75, 80; Peter F. Bell, The Historical Determinants of Underdevelopment in Thailand (New Haven, Conn.: Economic Growth Center, Yale University, 1970), pp. 5-6.
9. Murphey, "Traditionalism and Coloni4lism: Changing Urban Roles in Asia," p. 72.
10. G. William Skinner, Chinese Society in Thailand: An Analytical History (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1957), pp. 29-30.
11. Victor Purcell, The Chinese in Southeast Asia (London: Oxford University Press, 1951), pp. 58, 215; Skinner, Chinese Society in Thailand: An Analytical History, p. 87.
12. Spence, Opium Smoking in Ch'ing China, p. 16.
13. The Philippines became an exception soon after the Spanish were replaced by the American colonial government in 1898. The Spanish opium franchise had been established in 1843 and had earned their colonial government about $600,000 in silver per year. It was abolished by the American colonial government shortly after the U.S. army occupied the island (Arnold H. Taylor, American Diplomacy and the Narcotics Traffic, 1900-1939 [Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 19691, pp. 31-32, 43). For a discussion of the opium franchise operations in the Philippines, see Edgar Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1965), pp. 114-119.
14. For statistics on the percentage of revenues derived from opium sales see League of Nations, Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, Annual Reports on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs. Revenue from opium in the British Malayan Straits settlements was even higher. In 1880 it accounted for 56.7 percent of all government revenues, in 1890 it dropped slightly to 52.2 percent, and in 1904 it climbed back up to 59 percent (Cheng U Wen, "Opium in the Straits Settlements, 1867-1910," Journal of Southeast Asian History 2, no. I [March 1961], 52, 75).
15. Shlomo Avineri, Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, 1969), p. 361.
16. Spence, Opium Smoking in Ch'ing China, p. 16. Opium was so important to Szechwan's economy that a local opium suppression campaign in 1901-1911 alienated much of the province's population from the imperial government and created support for the 1911 revolution. (S. A. M. Adshead, "The Opium Trade in Szechwan 1881 to 1911," Journal of Southeast Asian History 7, no. 2 [September 19661, 9 99).
17. L'Asie franCaise (Hanoi), July 1901, pp. 163-165.
18. Bernard-Marcel Peyrouton, Les Monopoles en Indochine (Paris: Emile Larose, 1913), p. 146; G. Ayme, Monographie de Ve Territoire militaire (Hanoi: Imprimerie d'Extr6me Orient, 1930), pp. 117-122; League of Nations, Commission of Inquiry into the Control of Opium Smoking in the Far East, Report to the Council (vol. 1) 1930, p. 86.
19. J. G. Scott, Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States (Rangoon: Government Printing, 1900), p. 359.
20. Eugene Picanon, Le Laos franCais (Paris: Augustin Chaliamel, 1901 pp. 284285.
21. League of Nations, Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, January 17February 2, 1929, p. 209.
22. Ibid., p. 205; League of Nations, Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, Summary of Annual Reports in the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs for the Years 1929 and 1930, March 22, 1932, p. 317.
23. Paul Dourner, Situation de l7ndochine (1897-1901) (Hanoi: F. H. Schneider, 1902), pp. 157, 162.
24. Purcell, The Chinese in Southeast Asia, pp. 105-106. The Thai government also did its best to restrict local opium production. A British official traveling in northern Thailand in the 1920s came across a party of Thai police leading a group of captured Meo opium smugglers into Chiangrai. He reported that opium cultivation was prohibited, but "the small scattered tribes living among the remote mountains still pursue their time-honored habits, and although it is, as a rule, dangerous and profitless work for the gendarmes to attack the tribes in their own fastness, still captures are occasionally made . . . when the poppy is brought down for sale" (Reginald le May, An Asian Arcady [Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd., 19261, p. 229).
25. Skinner, Chinese Society in Thailand: An Analytical History, pp. 118119.
26. Ibid., pp. 120-121.
27. League of Nations, Traffic in Opium (C. 171 [11 M. 88 [11 June 1, 1922, Appendix 2.
28. League of Nations, First Opium Conference, November 3, 1924-February 11, 1925, p. 134.
29. League of Nations, Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and
Other Dangerous Drugs, Application of Part 11 of the Opium Convention with Special Reference to the European Possessions and the Countries of the Far East, May 11, 1923, p. 12.
30. League of Nations, Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, Annual Reports on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs for the Year 1931, p. 96.
31. League of Nations, Commission of Enquiry into the Control of Opium Smoking in the Far East, Report to the Council (vol. 1), 1930, pp. 78-79.
32. League of Nations, Annual Reports 1939, p. 42.
33. League of Nations, Report to the Council (vol. 1), 1930, p. 82.
34. W. R. Geddes, "Opium and the Miao: A Study in Ecological Adjustment," Oceania 41, no. I (September 1970), 1-2; Peter Kandre, "Autonomy and Integration of Social Systems: The lu Mien ("Yao" or "Man") Mountain Population and Their Neighbors," in Peter Kunstadter, ed., Southeast Asian Tribes, Minorities, and Nations, vol. 11 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 585.
35. Paul T. Cohen, "Hill Trading in the Mountain Ranges of Northern Thailand" ( 1968), pp. 1-3. One anthropologist who traveled in northern Thailand during the 1930s reported that although the Akha were devoting full attention to the opium crop and were engaged in regular opium commerce, Men production was quite sporadic. (Hugo Adolf Bernatzik, Akha and Meo [New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files Press, 1970], pp. 522-523.)
36. U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, The AMERASIA Papers: A Clue to the Catastrophe of China, 91st Cong., Ist sess., January 1970, pp. 272-273.
37. For example, in 1947 the Thai government imported 9,264,000 baht worth of opium, compared to 10,135,000 baht worth of alcoholic beverages (Far Eastern Economic Review, November 23, 1950, p. 625).
38. The Burmese Opium Manual (Rangoon: Government Printing, 1911), pp. 21-45, 65.
39. League of Nations, Annual Reports 1939, p. 42.
40. League of Nations, Report to the Council (vol. 1), 1930, p. 51.
41. E. R. Leach, Political Systems of Highland Burma (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), pp. 36-37.
42. Ibid., pp. 56-59.
43. Sao Saimong Mangrai, The Shan States and the British Annexation (Cornell University, Southeast Asia Program, Data Paper no. 57, August 1965), p. 150.
44. Ibid., pp. 215, xxxiii-xxxvii.
45. "Report of the Administration of the Northern Shan States for the Year Ended the 30th June 1923," in Report on the Administration of the Shan and Karenni States (Rangoon: Government Printing, 1924), p. 125.
46. League of Nations, Annual Reports 1939, p. 42.
47. Report by the Government of the Union of Burma for the Calendar Year 1950 of the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs (Rangoon: Govenment Printing and Stationery, 1951), p. 1.
48. The New York Times, November 9, 1968, p. 8.
49. Alexander Barton Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 278-279.
50. Ibid., p. 269.
51. Le Thanh Khoi, Le Viet-Nam: Histoire et Civilisation (Paris: es Editions de Minuit, 1955), p. 369.
52. C. Geoffray, Riglementation des Regies indochinoises, Tome per (Opium, A lcools, Sel), (Haiphong: Imprimerie Commerciale du "Colon frangais," Edition 1938), pp. 30-32.
53. Exposition Coloniale Internationale 1931, Indochine Frangaise, Section d'Administration G6n6rale, Direction des Finances, Histoire bugetaire de I'Indochine (Hanoi: Imprimerie d'Extr~me-Orient, 1930), p. 7.
54. Ibid., p. 8.
55. Jacques Dumarest, Les Monopoles de I'Opium et du Sel en Indochine (Ph.D. Thesis, Universit6 de Lyon, 1938), p. 34.
56. Dourner, Situation de l'Indochine (1897-1901), p. 158.
57. Ibid., p. 163.
58. Virginia Thompson, French Indochina (New York: Octagon Books, 1968), pp. 76-77.
59. L'Asie Iran(-aise, July 1901, pp. 163-165. (Emphasis added.)
60. Naval Intelligence Division, Indochina, Handbook Series (Cambridge, England, December 1943), p. 361.
61. In an essay written in the 1920s Ho Chi Minh attacked the gover orgeneral of Indochina for ordering an expansion of the opium franchise (Ho Chi Minh, Selected Works [Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961], vol. 11, pp. 30-31). For an example of later nationalist antiopium propaganda see Harold R. Isaacs, No Peace for Asia (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1967), pp. 143-144.
62. A. Viollis, Indochine S.O.S., quoted in Association Culturelle Pour le Salut du Viet-Nam, T~moinages et Documents frangais relatifs Li la Colonisation franCaise au Viet-Nam (Hanoi, 1945).
63. Durnarest, Les Monopoles de I'Opium et du Sel en Indochine, pp. 96-98.
64. Nguyen Cong Hoan, The Dead End (originally published in 1938), quoted in Ngo Vinh Long, "The Colonized Peasants of Viet-Nam 1900-1945" (1970), pp. 135-136.
65. Eugéne Picanon, Le Laos francais (Paris: Augustin Challamel, 1901), pp. 284-285; interview with Yang Than Dao, Paris, France, March 17, 1971. (Yang Than Dao is doing graduate research on the Meo at the University of Paris); Charles Archaimbault, "Les Annales de I'ancien Royaume de S'ieng Khwang," Bulletin de I'tcole francaise d'ExtrémeOrient, 1967, pp. 595-596.
66. Henri Roux, "Les Meo or Miao Tseu," in France-Asie, nos. 92-93 (JanuaryFebruary, 1954), p. 404.
67. André Boutin, "Monographie de la Province des Houa-Phans," Bulletin des Amis du Laos, no. I (September 1937), p. 73; Ayme, Monographie du Ve Territoire militaire, pp. 117-122.
68. Circular no. 875-SAE, July 22, 1942, from Resident Superior of Tonkin, Desalle, to the residents of Laokay, Sonla, and Yenbay and to the commanders of the military regions of Cao Bang, Ha Giang and Lai Chau, quoted in Association culturelle pour le Salut du Viet-Nam, Temoinages et Documents francais rélatifs la Colonisation fran!~aise au Viet-Nam, p. 115.
69. Ibid., p. 116.
70. Herold J. Wiens, China's March to the Tropics (Hamden, Conn.: The Shoe String Press, 1954), pp. 202, 207.
71. Ibid.,p. 222.
72. Frank M. Lebar, Gerald C. Hickey, and John K. Musgrave, Ethnic Groups of Mainland Southeast Asia (New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files Press, 1964), p. 69.
73. Wiens, China's March to the Tropics, p. 90.
74. F. M. Savina, Histoire des Miao (Hong Kong: Imprimerie de la Societés des Missions-Etrangéres de Paris, 1930), pp. 163-164.
75. Lebar et al., Ethnic Groups of Mainland Southeast Asia, p. 73.
76. The information on these clans is based on interviews with current Meo clan leaders now living in Vientiane. Information on the Lynhiavu family was supplied by Nhia Heu Lynhiavu, Nhia Xao Lynhiavu, and Lyteck Lynhiavu. Touby Lyfoung himself provided most of the information on the Lyfoung branch of the clan. Since almost all of the prominent Lo clansmen are now living in the Pathet Lao liberated zones, it was impossible to interview them directly. However, Touby Lyfoung's mother was a Lo clanswoman, and he is a nephew of Lo Faydang, currently vicechairman of the Pathet Lao. Nhia Xao Lynhiavu's father, Va Ku, was a close political adviser to kaitong Lo Bliayao for a number of years, and absorbed a good deal of information, which he passed on to his son.
77. Interview with Nhia Heu Lynhiavu and Nhia Xao Lynhiavu, Vientiane, Laos, September 4, 197 1.
80. Interview with Touby Lyfoung, Vientiane, Laos, August 31, 1971.
81. Interview with Lyteck Lynhiavu, Vientiane, Laos, August 28, 1971; interview with Touby Lyfoung, Vientiane, Laos, September 1, 1971; interview with Nhia Heu Lynhiavu and Nhia Xao Lynhiavu, Vientiane, Laos, September 4, 1971.
82. Interview with Touby Lyfoung, Vientiane, Laos, September 1, 1971.
84. Interview with Touby Lyfoung, Vientiane, Laos, September 4, 197 1.
85. Interview with Nhia Heu Lynhiavu and Nhia Xao Lynhiavu, Vientiane, Laos, September 4, 1971.
86. Charles Rochet, Pays Lao (Paris: Jean Vigneau, 1949), p. 106. In 1953 a French spokesman estimated Laos' annual opium production at fifty tons (The New York Times, May 8, 1953, p. 4).
87. Michel Caply, Guirilla au Laos (Paris: Presses de la Cit6, 1966), pp. 58-82.
88. Interview with Touby Lyfoung, Vientiane, Laos, September 1, 1971.
89. Interview with Nhia Heu Lynhiavu and Nhia Xao Lynhiavu, Vientiane, Laos, September 4, 1971. A former Viet Minh officer who was in Muong Sen when Faydang arrived from his village is quite certain that Faydang had no prior contact with the Viet Minh (interview with Lo Kham Thy, Vientiane, Laos, September 2, 1971. Mr. Thy is currently
manager of Xieng Khouang Air Transport, which flies between Lon Tieng and Vientiane).
90. Joseph John Westermeyer, The Use of Alcohol and Opium Among Two Ethnic Groups in Laos (Master's thesis, University of Minnesota, 1968), p. 98.
91. Wilfred Burchett, Mekong Upstream (Hanoi: Red River Publishing House, 1957), p. 267.
92. Jean Jerusalemy, "Monographic sur le Pays Tai," mimeographed (n.d.), p. 20.
93. Interview with Jean Jerusalemy, Paris, France, April 2, 1971. (Jean Jerusalemy was an adviser to the Tai Federation from 1950 to 1954.)
94. lerusalemy, "Monographic sur le Pays Tai," p. 50.
95. Interview with Jean Jerusalemy, Paris, France, April 2, 1971.
96. Jerusalemy, "Monographie sur le Pays Tai," p. 29. One American scholar places the figure for marketable Tai country opium at eight to nine tons annually, or about 20 percent of all the opium in North Vietnam (John R. McAlister, "Mountain Minorities and the Viet Minh: A Key to the Indochina War," in Kunstadter, ed., Southeast Asian Tribes, Minorities, and Nations, vol. II., p. 822).
97. Association culturelle pour le Salut du Viet-Nam, Testimoinages et Documents francais relatifs á la Colonisation francoise au Viet-Nam, p. 115.
98. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, "The World Opium Situation" (Washington, D.C., 1970), p. 13.
100. Ibid., p. 27.
101. Ibid., p. 22.
102. United Nations, Economic and Social Council, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Illicit Traffic (E/CN.7/L. 115), May 4, 1955, p. 4.
103. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, "The World Opium Situation," p. 23.
104. Ibid., pp. 27-28.