Analysts says this is due to the more adroit way in which Laos has handled relations with China and its other neighbours, most notably Vietnam. Since overtaking Japan as Cambodia’s biggest aid donor in 2010, China’s influence in the country has grown steadily through an influx of investment, workers and tourists. It now supplies about 40 per cent of Cambodia’s foreign direct investment Yet, Laos, which in recent years has also increasingly fallen under China’sorbit, has not faced the same amount of scrutiny as Cambodia. Nor has it been accused of “cozying” up to China.
The landlocked country has become more reliant on China in recent years, especially for financing the development of its infrastructure. Experts warn this could leave it beholden to Beijing, which has been accused of using its infrastructure financing elsewhere in the world as a form of “debt-trap” diplomacy.