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Myanmar: Grassroots fear stoked by Chinese-funded port and SEZ in Myanmar's Rakhine December 09,2019   |  Source: Mizzima

Aung Gyi is forced to fish covertly under the shroud of night in western Myanmar waters as China bids to transform the strategically key region into a shipping and industrial hub, squeezing out locals who fear being left behind in the gold rush. Myanmar has declared Rakhine state, associated by many worldwide with the military's 2017 bloody crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, open for business but locals fear they are being left out as new rules restrict traditional practises.

Paddies and teak forests will be flattened for a colossal Beijing-backed factory zone and deep-sea port, which will serve as its neighbouring giant's gateway to the Indian Ocean. But the state's promise for development comes with fishing restrictions -- the waterways have been freed up for Chinese ships - a situation that has devastated local lives and livelihoods.

"I might be beaten or arrested" if caught fishing illegally, Aung Gyi says as he lays shrimp out to dry by his dilapidated shack in a small fishing hamlet near the town of Kyaukphyu. "But I have no choice. Otherwise, my family would starve," the 28-year-old adds. Brutal military operations two years ago ravaged the state’s northern fringes and triggered an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, but central Rakhine was left

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Years in Support of Small Scale Fishworkers (1986 - 2018)