Now the Chinese dominate the economy, their mansions lining the streets of an enclave called New Town, symbols of the wealth accrued in the underground drug, timber and mineral trades in the northern Shan and Wa States of Myanmar.
In 1984, when a fire swept through downtown Mandalay, burning the mostly wooden structures to the ground, the Chinese acted.
“The Burmese people had no money, and the Chinese bought the land which only they could afford,” he said. “Naturally, there are tensions between the newcomers and the Burmese — the Burmese look at the Chinese with hatred because they are very haughty.”
The Chinese know that many Burmese are offended by their flashier lifestyle. They are fearful of reprisals, or of a repetition of anti-Chinese riots here in the 1960s.
"We limit the number of cars for a wedding. There used to be 40 or 50. Now they have only 16 cars.”