[Paukphaw Friendship]Myanmar people in Yunnan
Three migrant workers wait at the Jiegao Bridge for the employers in mid-March. They want to work as carpenters in Ruili.[Photo/China.org.cn]
A Myanmese parent who can speak Chinese waits for his kid at school. He conducts business in Ruili for ten years, and Ruili has become his second hometown.[Photo/China.org.cn]
As a key economic development zone, Ruili City in Yunnan Province has close trade and economic relationship with Myanmar. In order to take a closer look at how Myanmar people live in Ruili, our photographers visited the city and recorded the stories of Myanmar people there, such as job seekers, car washers and others.
Ruili lies on the border between Myanmar and China, and many young people from Myanmar have worked in the city for a long time. Currently, around 50,000 Myanmar people are working in Ruili as businessmen or migrant workers, and they mainly engaged in jewelry business, rosewood industry, border trade, tourism, and other services. For example, 25-year-old Suosuo has been washing cars in Ruili for more than one year.
So long as they have residence permit, Myanmese businessmen and migrant workers can send their children to Chinese schools in Ruili. However, many Myanmar kids cannot catch up with the school schedule due to linguistic barriers. Therefore, Myanmar jewel businessman Peng Jue felt it necessary to open a Myanmese school in Ruili. In 2006, he put his idea into practice. "At first, I just wanted to provide convenience for our kids by using Myanmar language in teaching," said Peng. "Later I decided to change it into a bilingual school. By using Chinese and Myanmese, our kids can learn more about Chinese culture, better adapt into the local life. And in this way people-to-people communication between the two countries can be enhanced."
As the school expands, more and more local people in Ruili send their kids to the school for bilingual education. At present, Myanmese students have classes from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and subjects include Chinese, Myanmar, mathematics, English, music, art and computer science. The school offers education to primary and junior high school students, as well as to pre-school kids. After 5:00 pm, it is time for Chinese students to learn about Myanmar language.
Myanmar has rich resources in ruby and sapphire, and especially in Mandalay, the Mogok region is world famous for its diamond production. Local people have made good use of the diamonds in smaller sizes by making them into diamond pictures and other decorations. For Chinese market, however, these pictures and decorations all remain unknown.
Three years ago, Wang Ming, an overseas Chinese in Myanmar, invited some young craft people to Ruili, and they were expected to help create diamond pictures related to Chinese subject matter. A total of 28 Myanmese girls in their twenties had a 15-hour bus ride all the way from Mandalay to Ruili. They have worked in Ruili ever since, and they return to home once a year when the water sprinkling festival (or the Myanmar New Year) comes. They don't speak Chinese, and they work six days a week. At their leisure time, they watch South Korean TV series with Myanmar subtitles. They fix the working schedule according to Myanmar’s local time.
By Zhang Yu, translated by Wang Shixue