The Chinese-financed effort to build a national railway through Laos is well under way. The line from Kunming, China to Vientiane, Laos is a core part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the aim to connect Chinese markets to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar. While the benefits to China are obvious, it seems uncertain to what extent Laos can benefit from this megaproject, from the infrastructure itself, but also other projects, e.g. Special Economic Zones.
What are the implications on the ground of these megaprojects? How has Laos as a host country negotiated and implemented the BRI with Chinese counterparts? Why are they agreeing to potentially bad deals? And what does this tell us about local institutions and Lao-Chinese relations? Are there any major risks, or social and environmental concerns? Are other host countries in similar situations?
Join us for the Webcast Current Affairs with Jessica DiCarlo, who has studied the Lao-China railway to showcase how infrastructures relate to on-the-ground political and social relations in host countries. She has lived and worked in Laos and China, visiting the BRI sites and conducting interviews with Chinese and Lao officials, businesses, locals and other actors involved.