The New Yangon; It’s All About Chinese Money

The New Yangon; It's All About Chinese Money

Across the river from Myanmar’s colonial-era old capital of Yangon, low-slung shanties dot rice fields that extend into a bucolic rural distance.

The New Yangon; It's All About Chinese Money
A Myanmar woman walks in the green flood-prone fields where the New Yangon City project is set to be built.

But that could soon change if local property developers and their deep-pocketed Chinese backers build the Yangon New City Project, an ultra-modern design with glass tower high rises some here are already referring to as “Chinatown.”

The first phase of the mega-project will reportedly cover 8,000 hectares of land west of the Yangon river and will be led by the New Yangon Development Company Limited (NYDC).

In May last year, NYDC signed a US$1.5 billion framework agreement with China’s state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), which will build infrastructure including bridges, roads, a power station and water treatment plants for the new city.

In return, CCCC has been granted by the Yangon regional government rights to 28 square kilometres in the new city for unspecified purposes.

The deal is widely seen by observers in Yangon as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Other BRI projects in Myanmar include a high-speed railroad designed to connect the Chinese border with the western Myanmar port of Kyaukphyu and hydropower projects in Kachin and Shan states.

At the launch ceremony in March, Yangon Region Chief  Minister U Phyo Min Thein said, “It is expected that the new city will create 2 million jobs,” while claiming that NYDC is fully owned by the government. .

The New Yangon; It's All About Chinese Money

The Myanmar news site Irrawaddy quoted Myo Win Thu, a local nongovernmental worker, opining that “if something goes wrong, we won’t have much bargaining power with China” and that the new city could become a “Chinese enclave” if the project’s debts cannot be repaid.

New Yangon Development Company (NYDC) announced on 21st  August  that it has chosen Thailand’s PTT Group, comprising PTT, PTTEP and GPSC, for power supply and distribution, and India’s Indraprastha Gas Limited and Gail Consortium (IGL Consortium) for natural gas supply and distribution.