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High above the traffic-choked streets of downtown Rangoon, the ornate façades of the city’s colonial buildings have been left to peel and crumble. Burma’s withdrawal from the world 50 years ago is displayed poetically in the decay of its former capital. It was once a key Asian port city and it vanished behind the curtain of military rule in 1962. These forlorn buildings are fading evidence of Britain’s grand colonial design for the East.

It takes a keen observer to recognise the extent of Britain’s investment in Rangoon. As well as the grandiose…

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