July 16, 2015

China-Laos Military Relations Deepen As Chinese Increase Economic, Infrastructure Investments

By:  Michelle Florcruz, International Business Times, July 8 2015

China and Laos announced closer military ties Wednesday, a development that coincides with China's growing investment in infrastructure and economic influence.

The Laotian defense minister met with Xu Qiliang, the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, and other Chinese military officials Wednesday in Beijing to affirm increased cooperation between the two nations. The Laotian defense minister, Sengnuan Saiyalath, said, “Laos is willing to learn from China’s experiences in army building and further strengthen bilateral friendship and military relations,” according to China's state-run Global Times.

The warming military ties are the latest move linking Vientiane, the capital of Laos, and Beijing. China’s so-called belt-and-road infrastructure plan, which would link China and Laos by railway, is a key to Laos’ socio-economic development. “Lao transport infrastructure, including road, water, air and railway, are lagging behind other countries,” Lattanamany Khounnyvong, Lao vice minister of Public Works and Transport told Xinhua. “I totally support the [Chinese] initiative as good transport infrastructure and transport connectivity with other countries are key to national development,” he said, adding that the project will turn landlocked Laos into a “land-linked country.”

However, analysts warned that the budding relations may be too lopsided, with Laos using natural resources and mineral-rich land as collateral, working mostly in China’s favor.

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