China in Laos
33 images Created 21 Mar 2013
China has a huge presence in northern Laos. The highways are being expanded to accommodate Chinese trucks. Chinese workers are building hydroelectric facilities to send electricity to China. The Chinese are helping Laos plan a high speed rail line from the Chinese border to Thailand. But nowhere is the Chinese presence as strongly felt as in the city of Oudomxay and in the Boten Special Economic Zone (on the Lao/China border). Chinese are about 40% of the population of Oudomxay and the SEZ is a like a little bit of China in Laos. It's a little surreal walking around in either place. In Oudomxay, there's a large, state of the art, Chinese grocery and department store well stocked with all the latest food, fashions and fads from China. And no shoppers because the average Lao can't afford to shop in the Communist shrine to Capitalism. In the Boten SEZ, there's a large Chinese market that's devoid of shoppers. There are huge hotels and casinos. All closed (allegedly the casinos were criminal enterprises where customers who couldn't pay their gambling debts were kidnapped and tortured. The Chinese government stepped in and shut the casinos down). And Chinese trucks and buses crowding the narro Lao highways.