Golden City Of Boten by  Huiying Ore

24 – 31 October 2018


China is famous for exporting its mass-produced goods around the world for global consumption. Less well known are its attempts to export its human population. Across the country’s southern border with Laos and Myanmar lie six settlements built by Chinese developers, which operate businesses owned and run by the Chinese. Boten, a town located in northern Laos, is one of them.

Under the special economic zone plan, in 2003 Laos signed a 30-year lease on 4,000 acres of forest to a Chinese development company. The Chinese investors started building a “Golden City” centered on a casino-hotel. Touted as a futuristic hub for trade and tourism, the Golden City ran on Beijing time and made transactions in Chinese yuan, populated by mainly Chinese migrants. There are more than 20000 land concession projects like this one in Laos, one of the poorest countries in the world. Abundant with natural resources, Laos welcome these offers of investment with the promise of foreign technologies, capital and infrastructure development.

Yet less than three years after it opened, the casino was forced to close due to speculation over criminal activity. Without gambling tourism, other businesses could not survive. Most of the Chinese left, only a handful remain and harbour hope that a change will come and the city will be revived. The Golden City, deserted as it is today, remains a monument to the Chinese version of urban modernity.

These images are part of the result of my ongoing fascination with the model of development in Southeast Asia. In the closely knitted community of Southeast Asia, less developed countries often look towards their more affluent neighbours for financial and developmental aid. By documenting phenomenon of this interconectivity, I am interested in creating loose and often ironic narratives around themes of power, identity and sovereign.


중국은 세계 소비시장을 위한 대량생산 상품 수출로 유명하다. 그에 비해 인구 수출은 알려져 있지 한다. 중국 남부 국경을 넘어가면 라오스와 미얀마에 중국인 개발자에 의해 만들어진 6개의 정착지가 있다.이는 중국인에 의해 소유되고 운영되는 비지니스이다. 북 라오스에 위치한 보텐은 그 중 하나이다.

경제 특구 지구 계획에 의해 2003년 라오스는 30년동안 숲속의 3000에이커의 땅을 중국 개발 회사에 임대 하는 것에 서명하였다. 중국인 투자자들은 카지노 호텔 중심에  ‘황금도시’ 건설을 시작하였다. 무역과 관광의 미래지향적인 허브로서의 장점을 내세우며 수 많은 중국인 이민자들을 중심으로 베이징 시간과 중국 위완화로 매매통화를 기준으로 황금도시는 운영되었다. 세상에서 가장 가난한 나라인 라오스에서는 20000개가 넘는 땅이 이렇게 양도되어 개발 프로젝트가 진행되고 있다. 풍부한 자연 자원과 함께 라오스는 이런 해외 기술, 자본 그리고 사회기반시설 개발 투자 제안을 환영하고 있다.

개장을 한지 3년이 되기도 전에 카지노는 범죄활동에 의해 문을 닫아야 했다. 도박 관광없이 다른 비지니스는 살아 남을 수 없었다. 중국인이 대부분 떠나가면서  남겨진 것이 별로 없었고 항구에 다시 변화가 찾아와 다시 도시가 살아나기를 희망하게 되었다. 황금도시는 오늘날 버림 받은 곳이 되었다. 중국식 현대화의 기념비만 남겨지게 되었다.

이 이미지들은 동남아시아의 개발 모델에 대한 관심으로 진행되고 있는 현재진행형 작업의 일부분이다. 동남아시아 커뮤니티는 서로 가깝게 직조되어 있고 저개발 국가들은 자주 상대적으로 부유한 주변 이웃국가들의 경제지원과 개발원조에 의존하게 된다. 이 상호연결성을 가진 현상을 기록하는 것에 의해 나는 권력, 정체성, 주권이라는 주제로 느슨하고 종종 비꼬는 이야기를 만들어 가는데 관심을 갖고 있다.


About The Artist: Ore Huiying

Ore Huiying is a documentary photographer from Singapore. Her practice revolves around storytelling, which she believes is basic to human beings. She grew up in rural Singapore, but was uprooted to an urban environment as her country underwent development. As a result, Ore is drawn to narratives of people and places affected by development, with a focus on Southeast Asia, a region she feels deeply for. In this closely knitted community, less developed countries often look towards their more affluent neighbours for financial and developmental aid. Her fascination with this phenomenon of interconnectivity has motivated her to produce stories that question the concept of power, identity and sovereign in the region.

Ore was recently selected in the World Press Photo 6×6 Global Talent Program, which identifies and promotes 6 visual storytellers from each of the world’s six continents. Since 2010, her photographic works have been exhibited in photo festivals, museums and galleries regionally and internationally. In 2013, she was nominated for ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu, a photography award in Singapore that honour photographers’ original vision and dedication to their craft. Most recently in 2018, she won the top honors of the Invisible Photographer Award for her series of an abandoned Chinese casino town in Laos. Apart from working on personal projects, Ore does commissioned work for international publications like Bloomberg, Le Monde newspaper, M magazine and Getty Images, as well as for NGOs and corporate clients.

Ore completed my Masters of Arts in Photojournalism & Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication in United Kingdom in 2010. After 3 years of working and living in London, she returned to Singapore, to focus her investigation of the progression of Southeast Asian societies.

For more infomation please visit her website:

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