Laos

Workers labor at the construction site of an elevated highway on the outskirts of Shanghai, 12 June 2020. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Even as the US obstructs its way, how can China build trust for the BRI?

Yu Hong says while the US is mobilising all of its national strength to try to convince the international community to stand against the BRI, there are ways that China’s Belt and Road Initiative can have a second wind. As China rises to the challenge of advancing its “grand strategy” amid a global economy ravaged by Covid-19 and an increasingly hostile international environment, the key to solving its woes is in building trust. 
The Mekong River at Sangkhom district in the northeastern Thai province of Nong Khai, with Laos seen on the right. The once mighty Mekong River has been reduced to a thin, grubby neck of water across Northern Thailand - record lows blamed on drought and a recently opened dam hundreds of kilometers upstream. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)

The Mekong River’s future and the role of China

The Mekong river is ecologically rich, and a source of life in more ways than one. However, its system is being threatened by the construction of dams by China. Independent scholar Milton Osborne examines the impact of human activity on the Mekong delta.
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.