Nouvelle publication de Danielle Tan

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Danielle Tan, “Chinese Engagement in Laos : Past, Present, and Uncertain Future”, Trends in Southeast Asia, ISEAS Publishing, 2015 n° 7

INTRODUCTION

On 7 April 2010, the Lao government signed an agreement with China that sets out the financing and the construction of a high-speed railway line (420 km) linking the capital Vientiane to southwestern China. Underthe original plan, China was to fund 70 per cent of the US$7.2 billion project. The construction was initially set to commence on 25 April 2011to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Laos. However, the project was postponed after the corruption scandal that led to the removal of China’s Minister of Railways in February 2011. Afterwards, the Chinese construction companies pulled out of the venture fearing the rail link would not generate enough profit. Laos resolved to take full ownership of the project. Laos and China are still finalizing the details of the loan agreement with the China EximBank. In return for financing the project, “China will secure supply of around 5 million tons a year of mineral resources, mainly potash, by 2020, along with other raw materials such as timber and agricultural products that may be shipped to China,” stated the Lao Minister of Energy and Mining (Wall Street Journal 2012). To put an end to rumours concerning the cancellation of the railway project, Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong confirmed that the project was still on the agenda during his visit to China in April 2014 (Radio Free Asia August 2014).

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