Recent years have witnessed much concern about the expanding scale of China’s influence within Laos. Almost half of Laos’ total public debt is now held by China. The Chinese state-owned company China Southern Power Grid now holds a controlling stake in Laos’ national power grid, and in December this year, the highly contentious Lao-China high-speed railway is scheduled to begin operating.
This year also marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Laos and, with the recent appointment of Khemmani Pholsena to Minister of the Presidential Office, the anniversary year will also likely see a further strengthening of political ties between the two countries.
According to a 2017 media release from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “the Pholsena family is China’s good friend and old friend,” and several family members attended the same school – the Beijing Bayi School – as President Xi Jinping.