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Anti-China anger spills over to Myanmar mine

The villagers oppose mine expansion and claim the Chinese are disrespectful to local culture.

By
Ed Adamczyk

YANGON, Myanmar, May 19 (UPI) -- Hostility toward Chinese businesses spread from Vietnam to nearby Myanmar, where two Chinese employees of a copper mine were abducted by local villagers and later released.

Local residents say they are upset about the impact of mining in central Myanmar, and the destruction of a Buddhist temple in April in a mine expansion.

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"The Chinese don't know our culture. How would they feel if their respected buildings were destroyed?" said local activist Thwe Thwe Win.

The two Chinese workers were surveyors, and were abducted with a third person, a Myanmar citizen, when villagers of Kyauk Phyu Tai saw them conducting surveying operations.

"The villagers thought the surveying meant their lands would soon be taken from them," Han Win Aung said.

Before the three were released, riot police used tear gas and warning shots to quell a disturbance Sunday near the village. Tensions remain in the village, the site of a joint copper mining venture between a Chinese firm and the Myanmar military, and residents are critical of what they consider arrogance on the part of the Chinese.

Local residents have also complained about pollution, low pay in the mine, and heavy-handedness of land seizures for mine expansion. The resentment comes as riots took place in Vietnam last week over China's installation of an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

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