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Belt and Road

Laos deepens reliance on China for key transport projects

Construction cost could amount to around $18bn amid 'debt trap' concerns

This Chinese-financed expressway connecting Vientiane with Vang Vieng in Laos opened at the end of 2020.

BANGKOK -- A number of Chinese-backed highway projects are underway in the small Southeast Asian country of Laos, generating both hope and fear among a nation desperately trying to raise itself from the ranks of the world's least developed countries.

The new infrastructure projects are believed to be part of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative -- a massive economic zone linking it to Europe by land and sea. But concern is growing that the loans incurred to finance the projects may drive Laos into a "debt trap" if it cannot repay its Chinese creditors.

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