Developing coolness between Peking and Hanoi is increasing the danger of Red Chinese intervention in areas more responsive to her designs than Viet Nam. The immediate target appears to be millions belonging to dissident tribes to the west of Viet Nam.
Naga, Kachin, Karen, and Shan tribe leaders are now being trained in modern weapons and subversion against the governments of India, Burma, Thailand, and Laos. The site is an indoctrination center for minority nationals in Szemao, southwest China.
The greatest irony is that China is holding out the political carrot of autonomy to tribes that really want a federation of Christian states from Assam to Thailand.
A. Z. Phizo, a Baptist who is the self-exiled head of the Naga tribal underground in India, makes no secret of the fact that Nagas are fighting primarily for a “Christian state.” Every military conference and battle begins and ends with prayer. General Mowu, an evangelical Christian who commands the underground Naga army, was recently reported to be training with 2,000 of his troops in southwest China.
Five years ago the Nagas approached the other three regional tribes to agree on a federation of mutual interest, including “majority Christian beliefs” against “imperialism” by Hindu India and Buddhist Burma. This deep religious conviction that fuels tribal resistance is consistently underrated by India, Burma—and the West. The Chinese do not underrate it, and promise “freedom of religious belief.”
Many of the Nagas—they are 60 per cent Christian and have the highest literacy (80 per cent) of the Indian states—were dubious at first about association with godless Communists. But the embittered Naga leaders say no one in the West wants to help them.
“The Baptists came and told us ...1
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