ASIA: Chinese companies investing in Laos are quickly purchasing land for factories, hotels, and other development projects, as China's influence in the impoverished, landlocked country to the south grows.
Recently published by RFA, “A lot of Chinese are buying land for future investments,” said a real estate agent in Vientiane, Laos, who spoke anonymously.
“Land near the Vientiane railway station costs 2,500 Thai baht ($70) per square meter, and almost all of the land listed with my company has completed transaction to Chinese.”
For the time being, foreign investors looking to buy land in Laos must do so in the name of a Lao citizen with legal residency in the country, according to sources who requested anonymity to speak freely.
“A Chinese businessman came to Dan Xang Village in Vientiane's Xaythany District and legally married a Lao woman there,” said another capital real estate agent.
“Later, the Chinese bought 10 hectares of land in his wife's name and built a hotel resort, karaoke bar, and restaurant there, which are now mostly patronized by other Chinese,” he explained.
A landowner in Vientiane Province's Phon Hong District said he has already sold one hectare of a nine-hectare plot but is refusing Chinese offers of 300,000 baht ($8,337) per hectare to buy the rest.
“This price is too low for me to sell it, so I'm not going to sell it, and I'm waiting for other offers,” he explained.
In recent years, there has been an increase in reports of growing resentment in Laos over Chinese business presence in the country, Chinese casinos and special economic zones linked to human trafficking and crime, and Chinese bosses' often harsh treatment of Lao workers.
Laos' largest foreign investor and aid provider, as well as its second-largest trade partner after Thailand, is China.