Laos. In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese head of state to visit Laos in eleven years. He met, among others, President Bounnhang Vorachit, who is also the leader of the Communist Party, and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. China is the largest foreign investor and the second largest trading partner. Investments are directed to hydropower plants, mines and the tech sector. In addition, Laos is part of China’s major transport and infrastructure investment, known as the New Silk Road. A 40 km long railway will be built from the Chinese border.
According to Countryaah.com, Laos is still struggling with illegal logging. In November, the Communist Party dismissed the governor of the southeastern province of Attapeu for alleged involvement in illegal timber trade.
In September, Laos and Cambodia assured that they would peacefully resolve a protracted border dispute. In August, the countries had brought soldiers to the disputed border section. Pope Francis appointed May’s first cardinal in Lao.
1975 The People’s Republic is formed
In 1975, the national assembly government was replaced by a new government in which Neo Lao Haksat had a majority. In December, the monarchy was dissolved and the Democratic People’s Republic of Laos was proclaimed with Sufanuvong as president and the Laos Revolutionary People’s Party (PPRL) as the ruling party. The massive emigration of the country’s business and administrative elite threw the country’s economy into a chaotic situation.
The government nationalized the banks and reorganized the public sector. Rice production increased from 700,000 tonnes in 1976 to 1.2 million tonnes in 1981, the first year in which the country became self-sufficient in food. To reduce dependency on Thailand, a road and an oil pipeline were built for the port city of Danang and the refineries in Vietnam, respectively.
In 1986, Phoumi Vongvichit took over the presidential post, and in November, Kaysone Phomvihane was elected PPRL secretary general, later to take over the post of prime minister. Following a map of fierce border war between Laos and Thailand in late 1987, the two countries signed a ceasefire agreement.
In 1988, diplomatic relations with China were resumed, and in late 1989, the first cooperation agreement was signed with the United States, which allocated $ 10 million to combat opium cultivation and drug trafficking.
1991 The collapse of the Soviet Union hits the country hard
In March 1989 elections were held to occupy the 79 seats of the Supreme People’s Assembly. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990-91, all forms of financial assistance ceased and bilateral trade fell by 50%.
The crisis was exacerbated by the floods and agricultural diseases that in 1991 affected over a quarter of the country’s cultivated land. The government was forced to import over 200,000 tonnes of rice to feed the population.
Under these circumstances, Laos had to strengthen its relations with Thailand. In 1991, the two countries signed an agreement on the repatriation of 60,000 Laotian refugees in the period up to 1994 and at the same time signed a cooperation and security agreement. The Thai investment took place mainly in the banking and trading sector.
In September 1991, 70-year-old Kaysone Phomvihane was named president. When he died a year later, Prime Minister Khamtay Sifandon temporarily assumed the post of president and leadership of the PPRL.
In December 1992, the country held parliamentary elections in which only the PPRL and a few independent and government-approved candidates participated. In effect, this meant the continuation of the one-party state. Demonstrations against the government were banned, and authorities arrested dozens of opposition people.