Hope and fear in Myanmar town seen as next Chinese outpost

Rakhine is the second-poorest state in Myanmar. Chinese investments flowing into the strategic township of Kyaukphyu, part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, has brought hope — and with it, uncertainty.
A farmer carrying hay in the setting sun. Fences popping up on surrounding plots remind them of China-driven changes to come and for some locals the Chinese money offers much needed development to Myanmar's second-poorest state. On Maday Island, a st
Downtown Kyaukphyu with its motorcycle rickshaws and tea shops is still a far cry from the massage parlours, casinos and towering resorts turning Cambodia's Sihanoukville city into a Chinese outpost.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
A farmer carrying hay in the setting sun. Fences popping up on surrounding plots remind them of China-driven changes to come and for some locals the Chinese money offers much needed development to Myanmar's second-poorest state. On Maday Island, a st
Small boats crowd the waters near Kyaukphyu's commuter harbour in Rakhine state, Myanmar, where the people got 24-hour power supply only last year, and families still need to send their young away to find work.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
A farmer carrying hay in the setting sun. Fences popping up on surrounding plots remind them of China-driven changes to come and for some locals the Chinese money offers much needed development to Myanmar's second-poorest state. On Maday Island, a st
A farmer carrying hay in the setting sun. Fences popping up on surrounding plots remind them of China-driven changes to come and for some locals the Chinese money offers much needed development to Myanmar's second-poorest state.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
A farmer carrying hay in the setting sun. Fences popping up on surrounding plots remind them of China-driven changes to come and for some locals the Chinese money offers much needed development to Myanmar's second-poorest state. On Maday Island, a st
On Maday Island, a strategic township by the Indian Ocean fast turning into a linchpin of China's initiative where oil tankers can unload petrol that is pumped across 771km of pipelines across Myanmar to Yunnan, Chinese characters affixed to a chain-link fence declare that "One Belt One Road has reached Maday Island". ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE

China-driven changes bring promises of jobs and progress to some but unease to others

KYAUKPHYU (Rakhine state, Myanmar) •Rocky trails running behind waterfront shacks end abruptly in neat avenues with lamp posts bearing auspicious Chinese knots and tassels.

Nearby, Chinese characters on a chain-link fence declare: "One Belt One Road reaches Maday Island."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 13, 2019, with the headline 'Hope and fear in Myanmar town seen as next Chinese outpost'. Print Edition | Subscribe