Kita, member of the minority in Northern Laos, shows me her tea plantation destined for China. She used to plant rice.
During my stay in I had the opportunity to often read the China Daily which, despite its name, is a weekly and not a daily publication. This paper paints China in all its articles as the great neighbor with a solid moral compass that unlike the West, fights for an equitable world. A picture in one of editions showing the Chinese President cozying up with African dictators illustrates what it sees as moral behavior. There was only one exception to this Chinese communist Shangri-la’s imaginary paradise. Buried in the back of the ‘daily’ paper an article about basketball: “Team China must make rapid progress”.
In the field here in Laos, especially in the North, the reality is markedly different. China is invading Laos with Chinese songs, karaoke bars, and films that nobody understands in Laos. It’s funny how China often accuses the US of imposing its soft power in the world. But it’s not a matter of music and entertainment. Beijing has convinced too many Laotian farmers to stop producing food like rice and start farming things the Chinese market needs: cassava, sugarcane, pineapple and whatnot. This led leads to slash-and-burn agriculture to clear forests for the plantation of Chinese produce. Six mega dams in Laos are producing electricity for, not its population who suffer daily from power outages, but for the Chinese market. All this, despite that China and Laos are communist brothers, each governed by Communist parties (no opposition is allowed).
It’s inconceivable how some local politicians acting like Chinese servants, the best example being supporting the fraudulent Guangdong Zhenrong. China is no friend. It is a imperialistic empire as (Southeast) Asia, Africa and our region is experiencing.
Alex David Rosaria (53) is a freelance consultant active in Asia & Pacific. He is a former Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and UN Implementation Officer in Africa and Central America. He’s from Curaçao and has MBA from the University of Iowa. (USA).