Digital relief map of Yunnan province, China

Yunnan is a province of southwest China, bordering on Burma to the west and French Indochina to the south. The province is mountainous, particulary in the northwest, and most of the population lived in the eastern plateau. The province is rich in mineral resources, but these were only beginning to be exploited when war broke out in the Pacific. A number of the major rivers of southeast Asia pass through the province, including the Red, Mekong, and Salween Rivers.

Yunnan was the eastern terminus of the Burma Road, China's only land route to the outside world after the German invasion of Russia shut down the Russian route. The Japanese invaded Burma early in the Pacific War in order to cut the Road, and Chinese troops advancing into Burma from Yunnan to protect the road were driven back. A second Chinese Yunnan force joined hands with Stilwell's American-trained Chinese troops from India in 1945 to reopen the Road.

The provincial governor, Lung Yun, last of the great warlords, held scant loyalty to Chiang and ran the province virtually as an independent nation. Under Lung, Kunming became a refuge for political dissidents of every stripe, and most of the universities in exile from Japanese-occupied areas of China gathered here as Southwest United University, a hotbed of radicalism. Shortly after the Japanese surrender, in October 1945, Chiang arranged a coup to overthrow Lung.


Mitter (2013)

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