Sat, Jan 05, 2013 - Page 9 News List

China’s growing influence in Asia impinges on Laos

A Chinese-financed railway line forms part of China’s grand ambitions to cement its influence in Southeast Asia, especially Laos

By Jane Perlez and Bree Feng  /  NY Times News Service, OUDOM XAI, Laos

Despite the sudden opposition to the Chinese railroad, a manager of a Chinese state-owned company in Vientiane, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said he had every expectation that it would go ahead. Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), he said, “made the decision two to three years ago.”

A foreign diplomat agreed, saying that Vientiane and Beijing would find a way to paper over their financing dispute.

“The Chinese will have their way,” he said.

Here in Oudom Xai, where a Chinese language school founded by Chinese businessmen has 400 students and 28 teachers, some paid by the Chinese government, Wang expresses confidence that the project will start within the next few weeks. Since arriving in Laos three years ago, Wang said, he has also acquired a wood processing plant.

Chinese immigrants have leased about 50 percent of the agricultural land around the town, he said.

“You can rent land for however many years you have money for,” Wang said. “People here recognize money, not people.”

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