The extent of the recent surge in Chinese migration to eastern Myanmar can most keenly be felt in Lashio, terminus of the railroad line from Mandalay. Only 66 miles (100 km) south- west of the Ruili–Muse border crossing point into Yunnan, the large market town now has a signif icant Chinese majority. During World War II, it played a crucial role in the engagement against the Japanese by form- ing a waystage on the famous Burma Road, by means of which the Allies were able to resupply Chiang KaiShek’s Kuomintang nationalist forces. Today, contra- band electronic goods, rather than the Chinese tea, walnuts, silk, and Yunnanese camphor of former times, pack the convoys of trucks lumbering to and from the frontier.
Little remains of the former Shan princely capital that stood here in the British era. The old, mainly wooden town burned to the ground in a massive fire in 1988. However, on a forested hill overlooking the southern flank of Lashio, stands a photo- genic modern Chinese temple, the Quin Yin Shang, complete with upswept eaves and cor- pulent Buddha.