News / Asia

While Burma’s Chinese Businesses Thrive, Competition Worries Locals

Boy sells fruit on sidewalk in Rangoon, Burma, December 5, 2011
Boy sells fruit on sidewalk in Rangoon, Burma, December 5, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Daniel Schearf

Burma’s political reforms have dominated headlines in the past year, but there is also high anticipation about a series of economic reforms.

The measures could mean more opportunities for locals businesses and foreign ones, particularly Burma’s longtime trading partner, China.  The Chinese competition worries some businessmen in Burma.



A man pounds a gold-trimmed ceremonial drum in a red wood frame at Rangoon’s Chinese-built Qing Fu Gong Temple.  This year, the Buddhist temple marks its 150th anniversary and is by no means short of worshippers.

A steady stream of ethnic Chinese enter the temple, light incense and pray for good health and success.

A woman shakes a cylinder of Chinese fortune sticks in front of a red and gold altar.

The temple has long been a symbolic anchor of Rangoon’s Chinese community, which has engaged in centuries of commerce between the two nations.

The temple provides Mandarin lessons, a free clinic and a pension for some community members, like U Htay Myint, 80.  Wearing large round glasses and a baseball cap, he says there are Chinese associations in cities and towns across Burma. He says there are many Chinese businessmen in Rangoon who are running companies and factories.

Customers crowd a long glass display counter at the Golden Palace jewelry store. Rangoon’s Chinatown is in the heart of the city where Chinese traders have long-dominated the gold industry.  And like many places around the world, Chinese-made electronics, housewares, clothes and toys fill local shops.

Burma’s government is beginning to reform its poorly managed economy by slowly reducing regulations and inefficient monopolies, expanding business opportunities. This month, Rangoon hosted a China Guangdong Commodities Fair with products ranging from solar panels to inflatable dolls.

Yu Fang Fang, sales supervisor for Longtron Electronics based in Guangzhou in southern China, says her company, which sells mobile phones and computers, is eager to reach Burma’s 60 million consumers. She says Burma has big potential and, although their products are sold in Africa, Europe, and South America, in Southeast Asia there are relatively few.  She says they want to take this opportunity to get to know the market and then enter into it.

Myat Kyaw Kyaw is one of Burma’s middlemen, using his connections to help importers and exporters navigate bureaucracy and get licenses. For him, the increased interest from foreign businesses can mean more opportunities. But there is still a worry that locals will not be able to compete with the new arrivals.

He says when there is an open economy inside Burma they will need a policy from the government to support local businessmen. They are weak in business experience and in competing with foreign investors, he adds. Although he works as a broker Myat Kyaw Kyaw says what he really wants is to one day have a company of his own.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs