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The Secret Army: Chiang Kai-shek and the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle

ISBN: 978-0-470-83018-5
384 pages
October 2011
The Secret Army: Chiang Kai-shek and the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle (0470830182) cover image
The incredible story of how Chiang Kai-shek's defeated army came to dominate the Asian drug trade

After their defeat in China's civil war, remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's armies took refuge in Burma before being driven into Thailand and Laos. Based on recently declassified government documents, The Secret Army: Chiang Kai-shek and the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle reveals the shocking true story of what happened after the Chinese Nationalists lost the revolution. Supported by Taiwan, the CIA, and the Thai government, this former army reinvented itself as an anti-communist mercenary force, fighting into the 1980s, before eventually becoming the drug lords who made the Golden Triangle a household name.

Offering a previously unseen look inside the post-war workings of the Kuomintang army, historians Richard Gibson and Wen-hua Chen explore how this fallen military group dominated the drug trade in Southeast Asia for more than three decades.

  • Based on recently released, previously classified government documents
  • Draws on interviews with active participants, as well as a variety of Chinese, Thai, and Burmese written sources
  • Includes unique insights drawn from author Richard Gibson's personal experiences with anti-narcotics trafficking efforts in the Golden Triangle

A fascinating look at an untold piece of Chinese—and drug-running—history, The Secret Army offers a revealing look into the history of one of the most infamous drug cartels in Asia.

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Introduction: Two Young Chinese Soldiers vii

Glossary of Key Players xiii

List of Abbreviations xvii

Chapter 1: Retreat from Yunnan 1

Chapter 2: Sorting Things Out in Tachilek 15

Chapter 3: Lieutenant General Li Mi 29

Chapter 4: Li Mi and His American Friends 45

Chapter 5: Li Mi's Yunnan Anticommunist National Salvation Army 57

Chapter 6: Attacking Yunnan 69

Chapter 7: Washington Opts Out 87

Chapter 8: Li Mi's Army Settles into Burma 97

Chapter 9: Washington Cuts Its Losses 113

Chapter 10: Southern Strategy and Karen Allies 121

Chapter 11: The Road to the United Nations 131

Chapter 12: The United Nations vs. KMT Duplicity 139

Chapter 13: First Evacuation from Burma 153

Chapter 14: Liu Yuan-lin's Yunnan Anticommunist Volunteer Army 165

Chapter 15: A Resurgent KMT 181

Chapter 16: Operation Mekong: Sino-Burmese Forces Rout the KMT 191

Chapter 17: Air Battle Over Burma and American Weapons 205

Chapter 18: The Second KMT Evacuation 213

Chapter 19: Removing KMT Remnants from Laos 225

Chapter 20: Nationalist Chinese Armies in Thailand 235

Chapter 21: Thailand’s Troublesome Guests 251

Chapter 22: Intelligence Bureau of the Ministry of National Defense 265

Chapter 23: Resettlement in Thailand 281

Chapter 24: Soldiering on for Thailand 293

Chapter 25: Postscript 305

Bibliography 309

Index 329

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