Contemporary Laos: Development Path and Outlook of a Nation provides a critical look at obstacles to the development of the Laos state. It explores different facets of its political, economic, societal, and cultural history and focuses on the current period of unfinished transition. The author offers an analysis of the geopolitical position of Laos, its relations with the global powers and with its ASEAN partners, and its efforts to maintain equilibrium with Vietnam and China.
Once known as the kingdom of Lane Xang, Laos was a backwater during French colonial times and was often called the “forgotten country” during the two Indochina wars. It became the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on December 2, 1975. The country has slowly rebuilt itself after different wars (colonial and civil) over the past century, which considerably curbed its cultural and economic development. A member of ASEAN since 1997 and the World Trade Organizationsince February 2013, Laos plays an active role today as a partner in the regional economic community. A landlocked country, it sits at a crossroads along major transportation and communication routes or “corridors” throughout the greater Mekong watershed. It is also promoting itself as the “battery of ASEAN,” thanks to its numerous hydropower plants.
This book reflects on other themes: How will Laos reach its destiny? Is the coexistence of a state capitalist economy and a particularly rigid political system sustainable in the long term? What role could the Lao diaspora play in the modernization of the country? What are Laos’s priorities? Where is Laos heading?