onsdag 21. oktober 2020

Controversial Chinese Development Project in Laos Moves Closer to Government Approval

A controversial Chinese development project in Laos is now moving ahead despite environmentalists’ warnings and long delays caused by villagers’ objections to surveys of their land by the Chinese firm, Lao sources say. The Vang Vieng New Development Zone, a $5.3 billion project claiming more than 7,000 hectares of land in one of the country’s most scenic areas, is now in its final planning stage, with its developers having completed feasibility and environmental impact studies, according to media sources.

The China-owned Lao-Vang Vieng New Zone Development Group “is now proposing the project to the government,” an official of the Planning and Investment Department of Vientiane province’s Vang Vieng district told RFA’s Lao Service in a recent interview.

Environmentalists and area residents have long voiced concern that the project could potentially ruin the natural beauty of the popular tourist destination with its mountains, lagoons, and rivers, and destroy the livelihoods and homes of villagers nearby. Others fear that the project will further strengthen China’s influence and economic reach into the developing Southeast Asian nation, which has become a target for massive foreign investment from its powerful northern neighbor under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s massive Belt and Road Initiative of infrastructure to support trade with China.