When China meets Myanmar – How riots turned into dialogue

words Alexa Weybridge

What happens when a corporation from China trying to set up a major operation in a foreign country is faced with locals who are unhappy with the whole idea and decide to oppose it?

Well this might be happening in many countries in an increasingly globalised world including the UK anytime soon and so this tale told in video form might show all sides the way forward.

It takes place in Myanmar that has been going through some major political upheavals in recent years with its transformation into a fledgling democracy. After 50 years of military rule the country has at last elected Htin Kyaw as its first civilian president. We are looking in on the story of Myanmar Wanbao, a Chinese mining company based in Myanmar’s mineral rich Sagaing province.

The film ‘A New Dawn’ charts how the mining company came under increasing scrutiny from the local community which escalated into full blow hostility and then demonstrations that turned violent. The construction of the operation was halted in 2012 and the site was surrounded and barricaded in by local protestors as police tried to break through the lines.

It looked as though Myanmar Wanbao’s days in the country were numbered. Surprisingly though something unexpected happened. The face and heart of the new democracy in Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi became embroiled in the dispute. She chaired an investigation commission that recommended that the mine should go ahead as long as it adhered to strict conditions.

The company began a dialogue with those very same locals and through their conversations or series of conversations a new understanding was reached. The two opposing sides, purely through talking to each other, managed to overcome all obstacles and create a new future. It’s a hopeful story and one that will need to be played out across the globe as we move forward in this new young century.


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