Political Dynamics of Chiang Tung: The Mangrai Dynasty, 1750-1855
Chiang Tung (Kengtung) is a small city, located deep in the mountains of eastern Shan State in Burma. In the early nineteenth century, it was the site of an autonomous principality subject to Burmese, Chinese, and, for a brief period of time, Thai influence. The politics of this principality were based on a balance of external influences. Chiang Tung’s positioning at a key highland crossorads between southern China and Southeast Asia meant that it was a site of great interest to the surrounding lowland empires. Its isolation lowland centers of power, however, meant that direct military intervention was all but impossible. This led to a series of conflicts within Chiang Tung’s Mangrai dynasty, in which highland rulers sought patrons in the lowland courts, while lowland interests attempted to play competing highland princes off against one another. The result was a series of low level conflicts between 1750 and 1855 which involved the rulers of Chiang Tung in a larger process political expansion and territorial consolidation in mainland Asia.
Key Words- Thailand, Burma, China, history, politics, dynasties