Fe­male war­lord who had CIA links and opium routes

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

MUSE, Myan­mar — She was born to roy­alty in Bri­tish colo­nial Burma, but re­jected that life to be­come a cross-dress­ing war­lord whose CIA-sup­plied army es­tab­lished opium trade routes across the Golden Tri­an­gle. By the time of her death last week at 90, she had led hun­dreds of men, en­dured prison and tor­ture, gen­er­ated gos­sip for her re­la­tion­ship with a film ac­tress and, fi­nally, helped forge a truce be­tween eth­nic rebels and the govern­ment.

Olive Yang grew up as one of 11 chil­dren in an eth­nic Chi­nese fam­ily of hered­i­tary rulers of what was then the semi­au­tonomous Shan state of Kokang. Ac­cord­ing to rel­a­tives, she wore boys’ clothes, re­fused to bind her feet and fre­quently fell in love with her broth­ers’ ro­man­tic in­ter­ests.

Con­cerned about their un­con­ven­tional daugh­ter, her par­ents ar­ranged for her to marry a younger cousin. Shortly af­ter she be­came preg­nant, archives show, she left her hus­band to pur­sue a life among opium-traf­fick­ing ban­dits.

Her son, Duan Jipu — named for the U.S. jeeps Yang had seen in the Chi­nese city of Kun­ming dur­ing World War II — was raised by other fam­ily mem­bers.

Yang’s pur­suit of a ca­reer as a

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