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Artikel

27 Aug 2020

Autor:
The Straits Times

Myanmar: China says controversial Shwe Kokko New City has nothing to do with Belt and Road Initiative

“China says controversial Myanmar city not a Belt and Road Initiative project”, 26 August 2020

Beijing has distanced itself from a controversial US$15 billion (S$20.5 billion) Myanmar border city allegedly being built around gambling by Chinese investors.

The Shwe Kokko New City in Myanmar's Kayin state "is a third-country investment and has nothing to do with the Belt and Road Initiative", the Chinese embassy in Myanmar said in a statement posted on Facebook…

The project is under investigation by the Myanmar government over the legality of its operations…

Shwe Kokko city, also called Yatai City, is a US$15 billion industrial and entertainment project near the Thai border being jointly developed by the Yatai International Holding Group and a company owned by former ethnic militia members integrated into the Myanmar army…

Myanmar media have highlighted how Chinese workers appeared to have poured into Kayin state, while reports by organisations… have raised concern that the project would serve transnational gambling networks and become a money-laundering hub.

USIP cited Yatai City as one of the worrying developments, as "complex transnational networks of Chinese investors, forced out of Cambodia for illegal gambling activity, are relocating to Karen state to build three megacities as a hub for casinos"…

Yatai's promotional material has identified casinos as a top source of the city's revenue even though the Myanmar government has yet to issue a licence to any casino in Kayin state.

Within the city, many transactions are conducted through Fincy, a phone application by a Singapore start-up which allows users to exchange currencies and pay merchants…

In an earlier interview with The Straits Times, he [Fincy’s co-founder Douglas Gan] said Yatai had approached his company first about using the Fincy app…

Meanwhile, technology developed by BCB Blockchain, another venture led by Mr Gan, is used to automatically calculate, collect and store data on water and power usage on a trial basis in the project.

In a statement to The Straits Times, BCB's chief technology officer Vanessa Koh said: "We hold zero tolerance to illegal activities and unethical practices."…

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