Kunming College of Eastern Language and Culture

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Thanks for the report.

I visited Ruili during my very first trip to China in 2006. I didn't speak any Chinese at the time, and Ruili was the first place on my itinerary where no English was spoke. Even then, the "this place used to be scandalous, not so much anymore" narrative was already in place.

I personally find nearby Mangshi and Yingjiang to both be more pleasant cities, but the Burmese presence is definitely greater in Ruili.

Any word on when that border crossing will be opened up to foreigners (without expensive prepaid tours)?

PS I think a lot of that jade and timber trade can still be considered "illicit"

Had a chance to see Ruili in 2000 and it was probably as close as "zomia" as any place could get. Jiegao was some kind of anarchy enclave, you had a trail if heroin addicts walking through a hole in the burmese border fence, to the jiegao park, shooting heroin. There was no law so this was convenient place for this. Abundant of child prostitutes, some of those kids cant have been more than 12, as an estimation. Around 2003 a massive clean up took place, organized all the way from Beijing. Some american researchers could say the plaincloth police were interviewing prostitutes there at the moment, to get a grip of what was going on. Two years later a change was evident. A few years later you couldnt recognize Jiegao anymore, there were no addicts there, the border was nice and controlled and the prostitution was somewhere else. If anyone wants to see this Wild West now, its all in the past. And some under surface.

Roughly, yes. He offers a very good argument for his thesis, but I don't think he'd insist that it represents the only historical socio-cultural process that has been in operation.
The idea: stay in place and grow rice and be taxed, or run for it. Different strokes.

Haven't read the book. Does he offer compelling evidence of the thesis? I guess a more traditional view is that groups end up in the highlands either because when they arrive lowlands already have established populations using all available land or they get pushed out of lowland areas due to resource competition?

Scott's central theses - that centralized states are about dominating populations, that taxing rice farmers is a good way to do it, and that a lot of people could probably see through the trick and therefore ran to the hills to plant potatoes or whatever - make sense to me, in Myanmar or elsewhere.

In the late 60's I was able to see a bit of Scott's Zomia. Travel by foot, humping tools of war and being sneaky gives one a great appreciation for the peoples of Zomia.

I bought Scott's book to try to understand how the mountain people came to be and why they would tolerate us but not the lowlanders that often wished to exterminate them.

Sadly, I only read part of the book and it didn't make back to the US with me.

In about 1965, in the central highlands of Vietnam, my weekly copies of Newsweek and Time weekly magazines caught up with me. I sat outside reading when a Mike Force leader, a Rhade man, stopped and asked if he could read the magazines. Thinking he would enjoy the pictures, I handed him a couple of issues.

I was surprised to see him actually reading English. Soon he explained the French missionaries sent him to university in France. The American missionaries sent him to Lehigh University where he got a Masters in Civil Engineering. I naively asked if he couldn't help his people more as a engineer, but, no, he assured me, the best way to help the Rhade was by killing Vietnamese, Communist or not. In this, his rep was very high.

I can buy into Scott'd thesis that the mountain folk just didn't to share space with lowlanders. We found support and help which in the end seemed to be motivated by "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Zomia, is an interesting choice of word here. Theres probably some truth in Scotts zomia concept while it has got a lot of criticism too. Chinese scholars have said its impossible to implement the zomia concept on China. Anyway, its probably best applied over Burma.