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Bangkok's Chinatown seeks to preserve its soul

New transit links are a mixed blessing that could to alter the character of a historic district

BANGKOK -- As the seething commercial heart of Bangkok's mainstay Sino-Thai community, Chinatown has survived political upheavals and economic downturns over nearly two centuries. But the advent of the area's first metro station is being seen by residents as a mixed blessing that could further erode the historic character of one of the world's largest Chinatowns.

Set to officially open this weekend, Wat Mangkon (Dragon Temple) Station is part of an extension of Bangkok's subway system -- running from the central Hua Lamphong Railway Station under the Chao Phraya River to Thonburi -- that was originally supposed to open three years ago.

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