On This Day

The Day Anti-Chinese Riots Erupted in Myanmar

By Wei Yan Aung 26 June 2020

Yangon — On this day in 1967, anti-Chinese riots hit Yangon (then the capital, Rangoon) in which over 30 Chinese nationals were killed, and the Chinese Embassy, Chinatown and Chinese schools were attacked.

Starting as clashes between Burmese and ethnically Chinese students, who were influenced by China’s Cultural Revolution and defied a government instruction not to wear Mao Zedong badges or carry copies of Mao’s “Little Red Book” to schools and universities, the incident grew into a major communal conflict.

The riots lasted for a few days and spread across the country. A junior Chinese diplomat was stabbed to death and over 30 Chinese nationals were killed. Many more were beaten and houses and shops suffered arson attacks.

The 1967 anti-Chinese riots in Yangon.

In response, around 200,000 protesters gathered outside the country’s embassy in Beijing, prompting the ambassador to set up a makeshift staircase with empty pine boxes so he could escape into the Congolese Embassy at the back in case the protest turned into a riot.

The killings led to the severing of diplomatic relations, which were not restored until the 1970s.

Some suggested that the riots were instigated by the military regime of General Ne Win to channel public anger away rice shortages in an agricultural country.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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