The operation of the long-awaited China-Laos railway should be a significant boost not only to Laos’ economy by enhancing its tourism and trade with China, but also to the economy of the entire Lancang-Mekong region, which includes Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand, by securing an important transport junction in the region.
Laos, an isolated, mountainous nation of 7 million people wedged between China, Vietnam and Thailand, is opening a $5.9 billion railway its leaders hope will energize its economy, but it may pile on dangerously high debt
Under the agreement signed in 2019, Cambodia buys 2,400 mW of power from Laos, with the first phase starting in 2024, followed by the second phase, third phase, and foutrh phase in 2025, 2026, and 2027, respectively.
“When you look at the juxtaposition of this super modern railway and the countryside it is passing through – it’s very stark. One does wonder whether the Laos people will be the beneficiaries?”
The MRC Council yesterday welcomed the appointment of Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun of Lao nationality as the 3rd Riparian CEO of the MRC Secretariat for the 2022–2024 tenure. He is the first Lao national to be appointed to the position.
According to a statement by the UN, “the three countries will graduate from the LDC category after an exceptionally extended preparatory period of five years, with the standard period being three years, which will enable them to prepare for graduation while planning for a post-Covid-19 recovery and implementing policies and strategies to reverse the economic and social damage incurred by the Covid-19 shock.”
The US$65.6 million project is expected to take five years to complete and include landslide protection measures, river embankments, 6.8 kilometers of drainage channels, a 13.5-km road and a 10.6-hectare public park.
Workers have reported that while they used to drink the water from the streams and wash with it, they cannot do so anymore for fear of their health, as the contaminated water is pumped back to those sources.
“Mining operations now excavate gold, copper, zinc, potassium, limestone, and lead. Mineral and mining projects in Laos cover a land area of over seven million hectares throughout the country or over 30 percent of the total land area.”
During the meeting, leaders reviewed cooperation agreements signed by the two countries in past years, notably an agreement to jointly further China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and an agreement to develop the Laos-China economic corridor from 2019-2030. They also agreed to push for cooperation in areas relating to the sharing of technical expertise.