The Scramble For A Piece of Burma

Photograph for TIME by Kemal Jufri / Imaji

Eye on the prize: The remote village of Mee Laung Yaw in Burma's Arakan state is now dominated by an oil-exploration tower

Last year, the Chinese came. The villagers living in western Burma's remote Arakan state couldn't quite fathom what the Chinese told them, that below their rice fields might lie a vast reserve of oil. For three months the Chinese drilled the earth near the muddy Kaladan River in search of black gold. Then, just as suddenly, they left. In December, the Indians arrived. Through Burmese intermediaries, they took the village's paddies as their own, depriving locals of their main source of income. Compensation was promised, villagers tell me, but none has been paid so far. So the impoverished residents...

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