Burmese Attitude toward Chinese: Portrayal of the Chinese in Contemporary Cultural and Media Works

Min Zin
January 2012
Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs;2012, Vol. 31 Issue 1, p115
Academic Journal
This paper argues that since at least the mid 1980s, there has been an observable negative attitude among the people of Burma against the Chinese. Such sentiment is not just transient public opinion, but an attitude. The author measures it by studying contemporary cultural and media works as found in legally published expressions, so as to exclude any material rejected by the regime's censors. The causes of such sentiment are various: massive Chinese migration and purchases of real estate (especially in Upper Burma), Chinese money that is inflating the cost of everything, and cultural "intrusion." The sentiment extends to the military, as well: the article examines a dozen memoirs of former military generals and finds that Burma's generals do not trust the Chinese, a legacy of China's interference in Burma's civil war until the 1980s. The public outcry over the Myitsone dam issue, however, was the most significant expression of such sentiment since 1969, when anti-Chinese riots broke out in Burma. The relaxation of media restrictions under the new government has allowed this expression to gather steam and spread throughout the country, especially in private weekly journals that are becoming more outspoken and daring in pushing the boundaries of the state's restrictions.


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