The China Backlash
Belt and Road Blowback in Laos?

A Chinese citizen has been killed in Laos as Beijing expands its Belt and Road infrastructure projects in the country, according to Reuters:

China’s embassy in Laos has issued a safety warning to its citizens there after a Chinese national was shot dead in the country’s Xaysomboun province.

Chinese workers have increasingly come under attack as companies expand abroad as part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road plan to build infrastructure with the rest of Asia and beyond, often in politically unstable places.

China and Laos last year agreed to step up security cooperation following a series of attacks on Chinese nationals, including shootings and bomb attacks.

The province in question is a restive mountainous region that has been beset by attacks from ethnic Hmong insurgents in recent years. Last January, a bombing there claimed two Chinese lives and temporarily halted a construction project; a few months later, Chinese workers were targeted, and one killed, in a shooting in nearby Luang Prang Province over opposition to a Chinese dam project.

The details of the latest incident are still emerging, but it adds to a growing pattern of Chinese workers coming under fire in countries tied to the Belt-and-Road initiative. Earlier this month, two Chinese citizens were killed by terrorists in Pakistan, a country where Beijing has particularly grand designs. And China’s projects have lately encountered spirited (and occasionally violent) local resistance in both Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Judging by the early signs, then, Xi’s signature foreign policy initiative may cost more—in blood and treasure—than he bargained for.

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