Dangerous Anti-Chinese Discontent Growing in Mandalay
By KYI WAI Friday, July 8, 2011


MANDALAY — “It is not news anymore that all good locations in Mandalay belong to the Chinese. But it will be news if Burmese can take them back,” said Sein Hla, a 57-year-old bean trader in Mandalay.

The Chinese have been able to expand their territory in downtown Mandalay because the Burmese are weak economically, Sein Hla said. When the Chinese came to Mandalay with plenty of money at a time when the Burmese were suffering an economic crisis, local land and business owners could not resist selling off their assets.

After Burma’s 1988 nationwide uprising and subsequent military coup, most local businesses in Mandalay were in bad shape and in need of cash. Beginning around 1990, many Chinese from Yunnan Province, as well as other areas of China, began to open businesses in Mandalay, buying up plots of land at high prices. Later, they brought their relatives to work in the new businesses.

In this manner, the Chinese migrants have taken over the central points of the city one after another, pushing out the local Burmese in the process.  

“When I sold my land in 1994, I received over 17 million kyat [US $21,250]. Now, the price of that land is 8 billion kyat [$10,000,000]. I have never heard of such prices before,” said Lwin Maung, a 70-year-old Mandalay resident.  

Lwin Maung said he sold his land at the time because he needed money. He thought that he would buy it back after working hard for a while, but he certainly cannot afford the current price.

“I think the main factor contributing to the Chinese predominance in our city is our own incompetence. Burmese are poor in terms of money and education. We are under repression, so we are poor in ideas. We are also poor in knowledge, so we lack economic vision,” said Lwin Maung.

Dr Than Htut Aung, the chief executive officer of the country’s leading Eleven Media Group, told persons attending the group’s 11th anniversary celebration in June that without capital strength, there is no way for Burmese to resist Chinese encroachment.

“We can't stand next to a soon-to-be super power country without capital strength. There is no way our poor people can resist the threat of a very rich and powerful country,” said Than Htut Aung.

The current price of a plot of land in Mandalay, which used to cost around 10 million kyat, is reported to be at least a billion kyat.

“The sales of land have been quite good. Chinese are more interested in land plots with high prices. As for Burmese and other ethnic people, they sell out a plot of land in good location and buy two or three plots in the new town area. So the real estate business in Mandalay is always on the upturn,” said Pu Lay, a real estate agent.

In early July, a plot of land located at 53rd and 38th streets in Mandalay was bought by a 40-year-old Chinese businessman, who is married to a Burmese woman, for nearly 8 billion kyat [$10,000,000].

“It is not easy to buy land in Yunnan,” the Chinese businessman said. “It is crowded and there are not many good locations to live. But I can buy land in Rangoon and Mandalay. I have planned to live here, that's why I bought it.”
Maung Maung, a gem trader in Mandalay, told The Irrawaddy that Chinese from the border have entered every business sector in town.

“Chinese from the border do everything. They are involved in the gem trade, gold mining and the bean trade. They are even involved in the construction material market,” said Maung Maung.

He pointed out that Chinese businesses in the city have quickly improved because they are united, economic-minded and share markets between themselves. While the Chinese are focusing on business and prospering, Burmese are wasting their time in teashops and gambling on football and the lottery, he said.

“There are also Burmese businessmen, such as Aung San Win in gold trading, who are smart and really work hard. But most of them are not smart and do not work hard. They just waste their time without making any effort,” said Maung Maung.

Many Burmese businessmen in Mandalay come from wealthy family businesses and prefer their traditional ways of working, some observers said.

Other local observers said that the Burmese people's discontent over Chinese encroachment has broadened because many of the Chinese people entering Burma after 1988 have been able to bribe government officials to obtain identification cards, giving them the ability to buy plots of land and houses.

“The gunpowder of hatred is already there, so it can explode anytime when it is hit by a spark. In my opinion, I don't think we should hate or be against a particular race.

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MM Wrote:
The most important export goods is Chinese people for China. Once they stay in other countries, they reproduce themselves untill there is nothing left for them.

The personality of Brumese people is modest, shy and easygoing that is diametrically opposite to Chinese people. So it is Burma who is most suffered from Chinese greed not only because of its neighbor of the gate way to Indian sea but also the totally difference of the peoples mind.

tocharian Wrote:
When I lived in Burma (the first 22 years of my life), I never worried about the Chinese, but after living in the West for over 40 years and talking to "educated" Chinese I know now how Chinese people view Burma. The Chinese are racists.

Fred Wrote:
I disagree with many thoughts in the article. I proceeded to write a commentary conceptually describing how there are many aspects of a society that promote cohesiveness. Burma’s systematic lack of these qualities, largely because of government priorities, allows China to make inroads into Burma. Projecting existing trends forward, Burma would undergo the fate of Tibet within a few generations.

I discarded my original essay. The only people likely to use the ideas were the Chinese. The commentary by Anonymity is more likely to help the Burmese. It details how the greed of the military has allowed the Chinese to pick apart these weaknesses. And all the Chinese are doing is pursuing their own self interests, though too selfishly.

U San Shar Wrote:
To all the people complaining of Burmese racism: -

The Chinese and their government are helping a brutal, fascist military dictatorship stay in power.

They have been exploiting Burma for almost two decades, land, water, gas, raw materials etc.

Burmese people have seen how China has exploited and colonized Tibet, the Uyghur's and South East Asia.

Burmese people are not racist, they are just not allowed to voice their concerns of mass illegal immigration into their country.

Anonymity Wrote:
The problem in Burma has nothing to do with Economic Globalization. It is simply the case of a corrupt government selling the country for their own personal benefit. The Wikipedia states the definition of "Economic Globalization" as "increasing economic interdependence of national economies across the world through a rapid increase in cross-border movement of goods, service, technology and capital". Let's examine if that's the case in Burma! Are there really cross border movement of goods? Are Burmese consuming Chinese goods in exchange for the Burmese natural resources? Last I checked, the Burmese are still living in EXTREME poverty. The average Burmese household (Yes, I am excluding the immediate benefactors of Chinese bribery!) does not own many more "things" (not even a cheap Chinese toothpaste) than they used to back under the Socialist government. Their standards of living (as measured in non-material things such as access to proper health care) have not improved if not deteriorated either.

Anonymity Wrote:
Do you think the Chinese gov't would give ownership of their natural resources to foreigners? Please read the following article in Economist....|mgt|07-13-11|management_thinking

How about the US? Do you think that the US gov't would give the oil-drilling rights in Texas to a foreign company?

The allocation of control rights for natural resources has nothing to do with "free-market" economics! And neither does providing a safe haven for drug money and ill-gotten billions (please see the article below).

Anonymity Wrote:
For those of you who think that the Chinese in Burma succeed because they work hard and EARN the rights to mine and build... please don't be so naive. To argue that poverty among Burmese is due to their own laziness is to completely disregard the lack of proper economic infrastructure such as banking, licensing rights and business ownership laws. There is no perfect competition (layman's term "fairness") in the village economy of Burma nor is there any attempt on the side of the Burmese government to develop such infrastructure to ensure competition. Put another way, there is no "path" for an average burmese citizen to implement his business ideas and succeed.

Anonymity Wrote:
The problem with the Burmese business model, in my opinion, is two-fold: first, there is not enough infrastructure to ensure competition between the locals and the foreigners; second, it was never about the economic gains arising from competition. In other words, the current economic situation is not the result of two businessmen - one Chinese and one Burmese - going into competition in front of the corrupt govt to win the right to mine, to import cars or even just to be able to open a small shop (since all the rights are controlled by the gov't) and the Chinese coming out as the winner because they can do the mining better, smuggle cars more cost-efficiently or maintain a small shop better! If one wants to argue using principles of free market economics, why not let the Thais or any other countryman also bid for the right to Burma's natural resources. Who knows they might pay more?

Anonymity Wrote:
ALL economic concepts come with conditional statements (the ASSUMPTIONS)! please do not misuse economic concepts without really checking the ASSUMPTIONS!

To conclude, the case in Burma is ONE OF POLITICS AND NOT ECONOMICS!

Written by a burmese born Chinese!

mintha Wrote:

ShweUDaung Wrote:
USA built dams like Hoover and Grand Cooley to develop into Superpower in the 50's and 60's. China, Brazil, Egypt all need dams to develop their economies. Burma is no exception. Hydropower is clean and renewable energy. It lifts people up from poverty and enriches people for generations. Burma needs help from all countries, especially USA, China, EU, Japan, India... The last thing we Burmese need is the hate-mongers and bigots.

Shwe Wrote:
Remember Lawpita dam?

It was constructed with Japanese war reparations. Cost a huge lot. Any whimper about flooding, drought or displaced people? How about earthquake fault? None!

If dam building was bad for people, why did the leaders do Lawpita?

It generates power for years to now. Produces renewable energy and controls flood and droughts.

Ask Yangon residents about weekly blackouts, before. No power to pump water! Ask home cottage industrialists using power to earn a living. Ask students studying for exams. They know the blessings that dams can bring.

Sell only surplus power. No need to sell all.

BTW, heard Chindwin dam will generate enough power for whole country.

Do you know this? Myitsone dam will generate an ANNUAL USD 500 millions for Burma.

Nothing to sneeze at! Who said the power is given away free?

Just need to share the good fortune fairly with Kachin siblings.

shwetin Wrote:
Some think America will fight for the Burmese people, inside and outside Burma.

But where’s the money? US is nearly broke, swamped in debt up to her eyebrows. Pick up the paper, turn on the TV, go online for news from Washington, DC. There is bitter battle in Congress about a US$14.3trillion debt ceiling. Many US States are broke, so broke they are laying off librarians at public library; and school teachers too! Obama is withdrawing 30,000 troops from Afghanistan (coincidentally, exactly the 'surge' number to be completed just before 2012 elections). Iraq? Still daily bombing and suicide attacks. Was that success? Pacification?

Max Wrote:
This article is plain ignorant. While there are some Chinese from China come over to invest, most of the Chinese business men in Mandalay are local Chinese (born or raised in Myanmar). So we are all the same, aren't we? Many activists inside or abroad are Chinese as well. Racial profiling just doesn't make sense to me.

Ha Ha Wrote:
Have ever heard of the word Economic Globalization? Still want to lock yourself in the cave and beating up the war drum?

Ha Ha, that's why we are where we are in now. Some people never learn.

KKK Wrote:

ludu Wrote:
Countrymen, just wake up and work hard. Don't waste time in watching closely on everything. (Dauk tout kyi ma nay ne.)

Frank Wrote:
"While the Chinese are focusing on business and prospering, Burmese are wasting their time in teashops and gambling on football and the lottery,"

and political movements.

Democracy is not going to make you rich.

tocharian Wrote:
It's not racist to fight against the British colonial rule, where the people of Burma were exploited and treated as third-class by the Brits. What's happening now is worse. There are even more Chinese "colonialists" in Burma now than Brits during the colonial period. Chinese "businessmen" are settling down in places like Myitkyina and Mandalay bribing the "authorities" (junta people), buying off land and bullying the poor Burmese. Burmese have a right at least to complain about this foreign domination. I admit that there are unresolved conflicts between different ethnic groups within Burma but these are minor compared to the dragon's deadly grip on the Burmese economy.

Ng Eng Hou Wrote:
The Chinese who do well in Mandalay have to do some social work to help the local. The saying goes - What You Get From A Place, You Give Back Something In Return. The current situation in Mandalay and other parts of Myanmar is not sustainable. It will explode and many Chinese will get killed and the rest will have to escape back to China.

Remember Kokang Wrote:
Kyaw's comment is the perfect example of the kind of racism that permeates some sector of Burmese society. Such racism serves the military junta very well.

Zaw Maung Wrote:
Foreigner can not buy land in Myanmar but why they can buy ? 1. Corruption of Immigration Officer who issue the NRC/FRC . 2. Married to the local girl who want to be rich .
If we all can prevent this , they can do business but they can not own the land but sadly , it does not happen.

Aung Win Wrote:
One has to be very careful when making comment that can incite racial conflict. Riots of 1967 happened because General Ne Win wanted to deflect people's attention from rising commodities' prices and the issue of Chinese school students wearing Mao Tse Tong's buttons conveniently presented the escape for Ne Win. A lot of Burmese owned businesses were destroyed along with Chinese owned ones. It's not the fault of Chinese businessmen. It's the fault of failed policies and selfish acts of the leaders. What Burma needs is a good structure of taxation and solid middle-class creation. Country must embrace intellectuals and train people for the new global era. Contracts with China and other countries must be negotiated openly and fairly for the best interest of the country and its people. Wealth must be allowed to built on hard work and intellect not because you know one or more generals. There are a lot of Chinese who grew up in Burma still call Burma their home and want to return to Burma if conditions improve.

AJay Wrote:
Eventually, China is going to pay a big price for supporting the criminal regime crushing the life out of the people of Burma. An inevitable explosion of vengeance from the years of murder, cruelty, theft of resources, and every kind of corruption, inflicted on Burma, with the help of China is actually long over due.

mohammed hijazi Wrote:
Burma is Tibet in the making. SPDC has sold the country to China and made the Burmese the new coolies. The Chinese do nothing to benefit Burmese, taking all the resources and leaving pollution and poverty behind. Chinese even import labor for projects such as dams, and only use local labor when the job is especially dangerous, like hand mixing mercury with gold sands. The liars and idiots who run SPDC speak of "lackeys, western Neocolonialists, stooges", etc., when the real Neocolonialists are Chinese and SPDC is the stooges.

I am REALLY WORRY for our nation.


Military government, it is the time to take back the ETHNIC GROUPS' LOVE.

Irrawaddy, please post this kind of article, education, idea, etc. for PATRIOTIC SPIRIT.

Oo Maung Gyi Wrote:
Enough is enough, Chinese are too much aggressive due to their wildness behaviour, Burmese peoples are fed up of them. Since Junta's corruption starting from the time of New Win till now, Burmese peoples are suffering from the Chinese relationship with the Burmese government anti-Chinese discontentment is growing day by day. It will be not good if there ill have another Burmese-Chinese riot. The new generation of Tatmadaw should take care of it. Burmese peoples cannot depend on government, because Thein Sein government seems to be very weak due to inner power struggle especially with its Vice President and USDP party leaders.

tocharian Wrote:
Dangerous for whom?

Moe Aung Wrote:
Globalization or rather Sinefication Burmese style. It only happened because the military regime allowed it to happen. Because the two governments are as thick as thieves in more ways than one.

Whilst the Burmese expression, "earn like the Chinese, save like the Indian, don't spend like the Burmese" is a very old one, it's nothing like the competitiveness in today's world which is so overwhelmingly skewed in favor of advanced industrial economies the rest of us has the chance of a snowball in hell. And today's capitalist China is like the cat that has grown wings.

My sentiments are with Kyaw Yin Myint and Than Htut Aung, but sadly an anti-Chinese riot is the more likely scenario given the Burmese mindset. They'll just put up as much as they can, and suddenly Jekyll is going to turn into Hyde.

Tun Tun Win Wrote:
This is not an anti-Chinese or riot from the real Burmese to the Chinese. This is just a dispute/fight started by a group of brainless and reckless people who use violence first on a dishonest trader. (Who are both human). Both sides are wrong but the side who use violence first is to be responsible for this. Then because the side who use violence is Chinese, not Burmese, a couple of Burmese who wanted to arouse a riot start to sing Myanmar National anthem in the wish of turning this ordinary business dispute into an racist riot. So in my opinion, the Chinese should be punish for using violence and the group of Burmese who want to start a riot need to be warned as well. Everybody is equal, there is no benefit for any side for starting such racist activity in the country. So please, reporters, please be responsible on what you wrote and comment on the story. Thanks. Let's don't turn dispute like these into an racist act.

shwem moe Wrote:
"Dangerous Anti-Chinese Discontent Growing in Mandalay", if not today when? The Chinese have plucked the fruits from the low lying branches Mandalay and Yangon, can Naypyidaw be next and entire Myanmar another Tibet.
Here is an opportunity for the cronies like Tay Za, Tun Mying Naing, Zaykabar Khin Shwe and YuzanaHtay Myint to show their true colours and defend this economic rape of Myanmar by the Chinese or are they part and parcel of this discontent?

Tettoe Aung Wrote:
It is not just in Burma this kind of resentment is growing. In the name of business the Chinese have been pushing the envelope a bit too far. The charm office in Southeast Asia has not been working that well either. China's leadership will regret that their 'lop-sided relations towards the regime and the elites' in Burma or any other country will sooner or later have a 'backlash' and God forbid the bloodbath as in Indonesia. Why would the Chinese leaders be telling the military regime to provide 'protection' for the Chinese when they knew well that the military do not protect their own people. A chill down your spine if anyone think about it deeply.

siam Wrote:
I dare not to imagine how Burma be the slave of China now and worse in the future if we don't do something.

Nationalism, as our forefathers did, should be the most powerful weapons to overcome this tragedy.

dd Wrote:
only now you are thinking about wealthy. We need Myanmar millionaires to compete Chinese businessman. got it? Remember how Chinese eat, sleep and work in pass 1967, in Myanmar, in China. I have been to Shanghai at 1981, at that time they were poorer than us. Now you Burmese must work, sleep and eat like Chinese same at 1967.

Myint Myat Twe Wrote:
While the Chinese are focusing on business and prospering, Burmese are wasting their time in teashops and gambling on football and the lottery,

That's totally true, but all of those things are causing by regime, because the regime just doing for themselves, doing nothing for country and people.

Kyaw Wrote:
With the Government unacceptable to the west, there is no way to resist the Chinese, but to drawn to their wills and bow to be enslaved. We need the government really represent the mass public, in-fact we do have it, but, the Military mad dogs just do not allow, yes, just willing to be swallowed completely by the Chinese. The official language and the official writing of Burma will become Chinese within 50 years. The military has not many things left to be destroyed now, they have almost done completely. (No National Proud, No Money, Poverty ridden population, high HIV, Enslaved by the neighbors)

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