TAIPEI, Taiwan — Zhonghe District in northern Taiwan’s New Taipei City is home to a huge immigrant population including a Myanmar-born Chinese community that left its native country decades ago to settle in Taiwan. Huaxin Street, filled with all sizes of posters and signboards written in both Myanmar and Chinese, is the center of the community, where people speak their native language and eat traditional foods.
Restaurants offer various foods that play a major role in Myanmar’s food culture such as tea and naan. From the slaked lime that is essential for betel quid to albums of Myanmar singers to Ngapi—a pungent, dry, fermented fish or shrimp paste, to robes for Buddhist monks—all of it can be found for sale on this street.
Walking down the street, conversations are in Myanmar language but mixed with one or two Chinese words in every sentence and elderly people chat over a cup of tea while sitting in front of teashops—a common scene also found in Chinatown in Myanmar’s commercial city Yangon.
Taiwan’s Myanmar overseas Chinese Association said there were more than 40,000 Chinese people who migrated from Myanmar to Taiwan and settled around the area according to data from 2008. But the population continues to grow with the community’s Taiwan-born second generation.
Tin Htet Paing is freelance journalist and photographer based in Yangon, Myanmar. She previously worked at The Irrawaddy as a reporter for three years.