Nick Freeman

Associate Fellow, Myanmar Studies Programme, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

Nick Freeman is Associate Fellow in the Myanmar Studies Programme at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and is an independent development consultant. He received his doctorate from the University of Bradford and his current research interests include the political economy of Myanmar.

A worker on-site the China-Laos railway project, 2 December 2019. (Xinhua)

Laos’ high-speed railway coming round the bend

China's latest BRI railway project through Laos, connecting northern Thailand to China's southwestern province of Yunnan, has the potential to facilitate China's shipment of goods to the markets of mainland Southeast Asia. However, international attention is focused on the more than US$1.5 billion combined debt exposure that Laos has racked up for the railway project, with the prospect of national resources such as "underground mineral resources" being used as collateral for loan financing. Time will tell if the economic benefits for Laos will outweigh the costs.