torsdag 21. oktober 2021

As first Chinese high-speed train reaches Laos, villagers demand overdue compensation

The first bullet train to serve the Laos-China high-speed railway was delivered to the Lao capital Vientiane at the weekend, but six weeks before the line is set to open, villagers who lost land to the project say they are still waiting for promised compensation. The nine-car bullet train capable of carrying 720 passengers was towed to Vientiane and handed over to Viengsavath Siphandone, the Lao minister of public works and transport, by Jiang Zaidong, China's ambassador to Laos.

The U.S. $6 billion railway, whose construction began in December 2016, is part of a longer rail line that will link China to mainland Southeast Asia under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s massive Belt and Road Initiative of infrastructure projects linking nations to China. The project has been touted as a boon for Laos, an impoverished, landlocked nation of 7 million people, because it is expected to lower the cost of exports and consumer goods, while boosting development and tourism.

China is Laos’ largest foreign investor and aid provider, and its second-largest trade partner after Thailand.