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Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to begin Laos Visit


Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to begin Laos Visit

Vietnam Laos Leaders
Photo: Thống Nhất/TTXVN

Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc will arrive in Vientiane today to discuss increased cooperation with his Laotian counterpart, President Thongloun Sisoulith.

As two of the world’s five remaining communist states, Laos and Vietnam enjoy a special relationship due to their shared ideological and geographical proximity. Vietnam remained one of Laos’ largest foreign investors until recently, spreading $4.9 billion across 400 projects between 1989 and 2012.

However, over the past decade China has superseded Vietnam’s position and is now Laos’ largest foreign investor. As of February 2021, China has poured $12 billion into 785 projects, from special economic zones to infrastructure projects. The most notable is a $6.7 billion railway project linking the two as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Expect Phuc to announce further investment in Laos as a renewal of Vietnam’s commitment. China’s growing share of Laotian debt diminishes Vietnamese influence, and Vietnam’s position as Laos’ preferred ally is highly coveted in the battle with China for regional hegemony. Unable to compete with Chinese coffers, Phuc will likely rely heavily on Vietnam and Laos’ close political relationship, as well as the two countries’ strong cultural and economic ties, in the hopes that old alliances outweigh new money.

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