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Myanmar Crisis

Myanmar junta goes big on giant Buddha statue in midst of crisis

State media blitz over project suggests bid to win hearts and minds

Marble statues of Buddha sit in various stages of completion in marble-rich Mandalay. About 90% of Myanmar's population is Buddhist.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Even as Myanmar's economy languishes, construction is underway on a massive Buddha statue in the capital, Naypyitaw, in an apparent bid by the junta to win the hearts and minds of the nation's religious majority.

The sitting statue will stand roughly 19 meters tall when completed next year, making it the world's largest marble Buddha, a state newspaper reports. By comparison, the bronze Buddha at Japan's Todaiji temple in Nara is about 15 meters high.

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