The Irrawaddy

Chinese City Offers to Fund Ornate Gate in Yangon Chinatown

YANGON — The capital city of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has offered to pay for a gate decorated with lion statues in Yangon’s Chinatown, but locals want something more practical, according to a Yangon official.

After the Nanning City government presented its plan to the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) to help spruce up the neighborhood, the committee consulted with community elders and sent their requests back to Nanning, said YCDC Secretary Daw Hline Maw Oo.

“They said they wanted to know what they could do for the Chinatown here. They came and met the mayor and community elders of Chinatown. After they went back, they sent a letter through the Myanmar consul that they would donate funds to build a gate with two lion statues,” she said.

“Our leaders thought that it would be better to get something useful for Chinatown rather than a gate. So we asked for the opinions of community elders in Chinatown and presented their requests to the Nanning government,” she added.

The elders asked that apartments on Maha Bandula Road, the face of Chinatown, be renovated, that overhead power and phone lines be tidied up, that corridors, sidewalks and Chinese temples be renovated, that heritage buildings with Chinese architecture be restored, that lamp posts be embellished, and that municipal dustbins be kept in order.

Daw Hline Maw Oo said Nanning authorities have not replied to the requests.

“I don’t know how exactly Chinatown will be upgraded, but it would be better if sanitation were improved and alleys were tidied up,” said U Aung, a shopkeeper on Lanmadaw Street.

The YCDC hopes that Chinatown can become a tourist attraction in the commercial capital as it is in many foreign countries.

“It is good that China will provide assistance. Recently I was mugged near Chinatown at about 8 p.m. I got back my purse and mobile phone because people in the area chased the mugger. I want security to be improved in Chinatown,” said Daw San Myint, who owns a gold shop in the neighborhood.

The Chinese New Year festival was celebrated on a grand scale for the first time in decades in 2017 under the aegis of the Yangon Region government.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.