Constructing Ethnicity in Xishuangbanna

Along the banks of the Lancang (Mekong) River in Yunnan Province, ethnicity is being constructed brick by brick.

Jinghong City is the seat of the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southern Yunnan province. It’s a short distance to the border of Myanmar, and a three-hour bus ride to Laos. The city is building a 2,000-acre park costing 6.5 billion RMB (about $1 billion USD) to “reproduce the ancient prosperous times of Jinghong City… and to build a large tourist service center for Southeast Asia.”

It’s an ambitious endeavor, and part of a centuries-long project to tie this area and the people who live here more firmly to the Chinese state.