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China’s investment helps Laotians help themselves

By  Ding Gang (Global Times)

08:22, January 24, 2013

Two of my colleagues have just returned from Laos after finishing interviews there. They had taken a night bus from Xayaburi to Vientiane, the country's capital.

The Xayaburi Dam, co-built by Thailand and Laos, has caused huge controversy.

It is said that due to firm opposition from Vietnam and Cambodia, which are situated at the lower reaches of the Mekong River, concerning the dam's environmental impact, the project has been stopped.

On the map, the distance from Xayaburi to Vientiane is only 200 kilometers. If one makes a detour through Luang Prabang, it is about 500 kilometers. However, my colleagues spent almost 15 hours on the bus.

"The road condition is terrible. Half of the road is unpaved. The mountainous road is quite bumpy. And we could hardly see anything near us. Sometimes the bus went at only 20 or 30 kilometers per hour," they told me.

However, what concerned them more was the poverty they saw there.

"People are living in simple and crude thatched cottages by the side of the road. When vehicles pass by, you see dust everywhere. I can't imagine how they manage to live there every day."

Data from the United Nations Children's Fund shows that almost half of the children in Laos do not have sufficient nutrition, and that figure hasn't changed much in the past five years.

Laos is a country rich in water resources, but its domestic electricity consumption per capita is one of the lowest in the world, almost one-tenth of China's. Laos is developing very slowly, and people's lives are lagging behind.

This is the reality that people who live only a few hundred kilometers from China's borders have to face. No one has the right to prevent people in Laos from entering an era of rapid development like their Chinese neighbors have done.

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