A tall new Buddha statue points at the thriving town of Mong La

Mong La: Business as Usual in the China-Myanmar Borderlands

A tall new Buddha statue points at the thriving town of Mong La

Mong La is an autonomous stretch of territory at the Chinese border that is formally known inside Myanmar as Special Region 4. Noted for its gambling industry and infamous wildlife market, and rendered in Western media reports as Myanmar’s sin city, Mong La is also an example of Chinese-style development in Myanmar’s border regions. How is one to read the Buddha’s gesture in this context? As tarjana, a warning gesture? Or as the gesture of “pointing at the moon,” which represents liberation and enlightenment?

Credits: All photos courtesy of Martin Saxer; captions by Martin Saxer and Alessandro Rippa