Life,  News

The Great Game in Indochina: How Railways Can Reshape Southeast Asia

Throughout June, the Minister of Transport of Vietnam traveled around China almost everywhere, holding talks with relevant Chinese ministries and enterprises.

Apparently, the Vietnamese have had enough of the procrastination and inefficiency of Japan’s construction of Vietnam’s high-speed rail, and are ready to consider cooperation with China.

At the same time, the China-Laos Railway has been in operation for more than a year, and the Thailand-Laos Railway has reached a consensus in early June.

In the next step, the China-Laos Railway will be directly extended to Bangkok, Thailand, and the second phase of the project will be extended to the south. Then the China-Thailand Railway may successfully connect to the Indian Ocean.

If the two railway lines can be successfully constructed, then China’s Trans-Asian Railway network will also take shape, which will bring about earth-shaking changes to the geopolitics of the Indochina Peninsula.

In fact, the Trans-Asian Railway has been planned as early as 20 years ago, but until now, it has only advanced a little bit of the China-Laos Railway, and the progress can be described as very slow.

Why is this so?

This starts with the complex relationship between Thailand, Vietnam and the old three countries.

01

Blood feuds in history

In the south of the land of China, there is a very large peninsula land, which is the Indochina Peninsula.

This land is connected with Chinese mountains and rivers, has been inextricably linked with China since ancient times, and is also deeply influenced by Central Plains culture.

In the fifth century BC, a country named Ailao was established in Yunnan, China and the present northern Myanmar and northern Laos.

After being destroyed by the Eastern Han Dynasty, the people of Ailao scattered and began to move southward, which opened the prelude to the great migration and integration of the Indo-China Peninsula.

Some Ailao people went east along the Lancang River and settled in the upper reaches of the Mekong River. They established a country, Nanzhang, and formed the Lao tribe in Laos today.

Some Ailao people moved westward to establish the Shan State in the upper reaches of the Ayeyarwady River, forming the Shan nationality in Myanmar today.

Some Ailao people crossed the Hengduan Mountains and came to the Assam region (the Assam of Assam milk tea), and they are the Assamese in India today.

Some Ailao people went south to the Chao Phraya River and established Siam, forming the Thai people in today’s Thailand.

The part of the Ailao people who stayed in place was the ancestors of the later Dai people.

Therefore, whether it is Shan, Tai, or Dai, they all come from the same ancestor.

However, just like the Russians and Ukrainians who are also Slavs turned against each other, when the Ailao people scattered, they also began to fight each other because of conflicting interests.

The most typical of these is the war between Laos and Thailand.

Anyone who has read “Han Zhu Ge Ge” knows that the Qing Dynasty once broke out with Burma, and Erkang was captured by Burma. It is about the Qing-Burmese War during the Qianlong period.

After the defeat of Burma, Siam, which was conquered by Burma, took advantage of the situation to rebel against Burma.

Zheng Xin, a talented man from Guangdong, organized an army to drive out the Burmese and established the famous Thonburi Dynasty in Thailand.

After eliminating external worries, the Thonburi Dynasty began to eliminate “internal troubles”, and Laos was the first to strike.

The country established by Laos is called Nanzhang, because the national power is relatively weak, basically anyone who sees it will make offerings.

The north side offered offerings to the Qing Dynasty, the south side offered offerings to Thailand, the west side offered offerings to Myanmar, and the east side offered offerings to Vietnam.

From 1707 to 1713, the Nanzhang Kingdom split and became three small countries: Luang Prabang in the north, Vientiane Kingdom in the center and Champasak Kingdom in the south.

This division was even weaker, and the Kingdom of Vientiane was annexed by the Kingdom of Siam.

But when Siam was ruled by Myanmar, the king of Vientiane Kingdom at that time surrendered to Myanmar, wanting to take advantage of the chaos to regain the land occupied by Siam and restore independence.

But things were unsatisfactory. As soon as the Vientiane Kingdom surrendered to Myanmar, Thailand’s Emperor Thaksin defeated Myanmar!

The Vientiane Kingdom’s move is tantamount to a rebellion against Siam.

In 1778, Emperor Thonburi led a large-scale conquest by the Siamese army. After breaking through the capital of the Vientiane Kingdom, Yongzhen, he drove straight in. The old king was killed, and the prince Chao Anu was arrested and taken to Thailand.

As the prince of a defeated country, Zhao Anu’s life is naturally difficult, and he worries every day whether he will face the disaster of killing himself.

But Zhaoanu was quite like Goujian, the king of Yue. He endured humiliation in Siam and was kept in captivity for 26 years. Not only was he not killed, but he also won the favor of the Siamese royal family.

Later, like King Goujian of Yue, Zhao Anu’s cleverness won the trust of the King of Siam, and he was sent back to Vientiane as a vassal to help Siam rule Laos.

However, Zhao Anu, who was full of hatred, thought of revenge all the time. After Goujian’s hard work and courage, he took advantage of the opportunity of Siam’s change of king to rebel and restored the independence of the Vientiane Kingdom.

But this is undoubtedly a kind of betrayal for Siam!

I put you in the Siamese palace to raise you, nurture you, feed you and clothe you since I was a child, and let you become a feudal king when you grow up. What else are you dissatisfied with? Why rebel?

But in Zhao Anu’s view, how can I forget that you have hatred for the subjugation of the country and the killing of your father?

In short, each has its own position. In the end, Siam sent troops to suppress it. Although Chao Anu also won a few battles, but the country was small and poor, and finally failed.

Angry Siam took cruel revenge on the subjugation of Vientiane, ordered the royal family members, officials and elites to be taken to Thailand, and made the Lao people feel the pain of Jingkang’s shame.

After Chaoanu was captured by Siam, he was locked in a dog cage and dragged to the street for “exhibition” every day, where he was insulted by Thai people.

After being tortured alive for seven days, he died miserably. After his death, his head was beheaded and hung in the downtown area of ​​Bangkok, warning the vassals that “whoever dares to betray will end up just like him.”

In this way, the King of Siam has not completely vented his hatred. He ordered the demolition of Vientiane City, destroyed the city walls, demolished houses, burned food, felled trees, moved all the residents of Vientiane City, and all valuables have been moved to Siam.

The hatred of subjugation, the humiliation of the king, and the hatred of seizing treasures, the two countries have had such historical grievances, and the attitude of the Laotians towards Thailand can be imagined.

So even though Laos and Thailand are one nation, with similar languages ​​and customs, the people still hate each other.

There is a proverb circulating in Laos: “If anyone believes in the words of the Thais, the fire will burn the thatched cottage.”

However, after the mantis catches the cicada and the oriole, after Thailand annexed Laos, the Vietnamese quit.

We all know that Vietnam was originally a part of China, and later became independent in the 10th century AD taking advantage of China’s civil strife.

When Vietnam became independent, there was only the Red River Delta, but the rulers of Vietnam have always followed an expansionist line.

Not long after independence, they went south and destroyed the Champa Kingdom, forming the current long and narrow country. As for Laos and Cambodia on the west side, Vietnam has always had ambitions.

So Siam and Vietnam, one east and one west, are basically equivalent to Qin and Qi in the early Warring States period, and they have been vying for control of Laos and Cambodia in the middle.

Originally, Vientiane Kingdom surrendered to Vietnam and Siam at the same time, but after Vientiane Kingdom was destroyed by Siam, Vietnam saw that its own vassal state was gone, so what should I do?

So Vietnam sent troops to Siam, trying to take back the Kingdom of Vientiane.

However, the military strength of Siam and Vietnam is similar. The two countries competed back and forth in Laos. As a result, Thailand accounted for most of Laos, and Vietnam accounted for a small part of Laos.

But before the two could decide the winner, a cannon rang out on the coast, and the colonists came!

02

Geopolitical battle

When we observe the land growth process of some countries in the world, we will find that they can be roughly divided into three categories.

The first is to expand and conquer by war, constantly conquering new lands.

The second is to rely on negotiation and influence to attract other countries to join.

The third is to win by lying down.

Originally, the country was not so big. After colonization by the colonists, after independence, the land that did not belong to us was brought to independence by the way, such as India.

And Vietnam, in fact, think so.

At the same time as the Second Opium War, France also began to invade Vietnam.

In 1862, Vietnam ceded the Cochin China region to France. In 1884, France occupied Cambodia, but France was not satisfied and set its sights on Laos.

But at that time, most of Laos was occupied by the Kingdom of Siam, so France asked Siam for all the territory of Laos.

Of course Siam does not give it.

Laos has been occupied by Siam for 110 years, and it has been regarded as a land “since ancient times”. How could it be given to France for nothing?

So in 1893, France launched the French-Siamese War. Although the Siamese army that had been modernized and reformed caused a lot of casualties to the French, the French relied on their naval superiority to fight in Bangkok.

Put the cannon directly next to the Grand Palace, forcing Siam to admit defeat, ceding the Laos area east of the Mekong River, making it part of the French Southeast Asian colony.

France then integrated Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to form the French Federation of Indochina.

It is equivalent to the French helping the Vietnamese to fulfill their long-cherished wish of expanding their territory that has not been fulfilled for hundreds of years.

Originally, France wanted to continue to fight westward and take down Siam, but the British to the west of Siam quit. After the British cut off Shan State from Siam, they were unwilling to watch the French expand their power.

In this way, Britain and France did not want to see each other occupying Siam, so Britain and France agreed that neither side would occupy Siam, keep Siam independent, and make Siam a buffer zone between Britain and France.

Just like Afghanistan between Central Asia and India became a buffer zone between Britain and Russia.

As a weak country, although Siam maintained its independence, it lost 50% of its territory under the exploitation of Britain and France, which also made the Thais hold grudges.

After World War II, the world entered a wave of colonial independence, and the French Indochina Federation was no exception.

Because Vietnam became independent relatively early, basically the subsequent independence movement of the Indochina Federation was carried out by Vietnam with its two younger brothers, Laos and Cambodia.

As early as the 1920s, when the Communist International established its party organization, because Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia belonged to an Indochina Federation, an “Indochina Communist Party” was established, which was later reorganized by Ho Chi Minh into the Communist Party of Vietnam.

What about the People’s Party in Laos?

It was originally a subsidiary organization of the Communist Party of Vietnam, called the Lao Local Committee, whose task was to guide the anti-Fa and anti-Japanese struggle activities in Laos.

Therefore, the Viet Cong and the Lao People’s Party, in fact, have a superior-subordinate relationship, which paved the way for Vietnam to control Laos later.

After Vietnam’s anti-French struggle, the French saw that they could not win, so in 1954, France and Vietnam signed the Geneva Agreement, and France withdrew from Vietnam.

There is an annex in the Geneva Agreement about Laos, one of which is:

Recognize Laos as a fully independent country.

Therefore, in a sense, the real independence of Laos was achieved through Vietnam’s struggle against France.

The Laotians have been bullied by the Thais, French and Japanese for hundreds of years. How could they dare to think of a day of independence?

Therefore, Vietnam has the grace of rebuilding Laos, and Laotians generally have gratitude to Vietnam.

But soon, the United States began to intervene in Vietnam, making Laos the front line of the Cold War.

At that time, Laos could be roughly divided into three factions:

The left wing is the Lao People’s Party, which was established in 1955 by 25 members of Lao nationality in the Communist Party of Vietnam.

With Kaishan Fengweihan as the general secretary, he later formed the Lao Patriotic Front and formed his own army “Laos Combat Forces”, known as “Path Lao”.

It is worth mentioning that Kaishan Feng Weihan’s father is Vietnamese. Kaishan’s growth, study, and revolution were all completed in Vietnam. Except that Kaishan’s nationality is not Vietnamese, there is no difference between Kaishan and Vietnamese.

The centrist is the government of the Kingdom of Laos headed by Prince Fuma.

The rightists are the right-wing forces Kadai Don Sassori and others.

The centrists couldn’t suppress the left and right factions at all, so Laos fought a civil war for 20 years.

It’s just that the news focus is often covered up by the massive Vietnam War that happened at the same time, so the Laotian Civil War is called the “Secret War” by the world.

In other words, the Laotian Civil War itself was a branch battlefield of the Vietnam War.

As a proxy war, both sides received a lot of assistance from the two camps of the Cold War.

The red camp led by the Soviet Union and China directly supported the Pathet Lao with a large amount of supplies through North Vietnam.

The Western camp led by the United States supported the Lao government forces through the CIA special operations team.

As the Vietnam battlefield became increasingly fierce, North Vietnam began to use Laos to create a “Ho Chi Minh Trail” to support the guerrillas in southern Vietnam.

In order to solve the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the United States directly sent planes to bomb Laos.

From 1965 to 1968, the U.S. Air Force bombed Laos continuously for more than three years. The most air strikes in one year were as high as 48,000 times. It can be said that on average, Laotians will encounter a bomb on their heads every eight minutes.

Throughout the Vietnam War, the U.S. military dropped about 2 million tons of bombs over Laos, equivalent to the sum of the U.S. bombs dropped during World War II.

Until now, one-third of the land in Laos belongs to the dangerous area where the bombs have not been checked.

When China was building the China-Laos Railway a few years ago, it took a lot of effort to dismantle these unexploded bombs.

In response to the bombing by the U.S. military, China directly formed a “resist U.S. aid to Laos” force and entered Laos to fight against the U.S. military.

In more than four years, China has successively dispatched more than 21,000 air defense troops, engaged in 95 air-to-air operations, shot down 35 American aircraft and damaged 24.

The United States saw that there was a helper in Laos, so it wanted to find a helper. At this time, Thailand, which was impatient and lonely, came forward.

For Thailand, Laos means homeland. Even though it is now independent, Thailand still wants to control Laos through economic, political and military means, as a buffer zone with Vietnam.

However, the government forces of the Kingdom of Laos were too weak in combat effectiveness, and they were defeated by the Pathet Lao.

The flames of revolution have also begun to ignite in the northeast of Thailand on the border between Thailand and Laos. The Thai Communist Party has begun to set up armed forces such as the “Thailand Independence Movement” and “Patriotic Front” to engage in armed struggle!

In order to ensure its own security, Thailand can only hug the thighs of the United States and provide military bases for the United States.

In fact, most of the American planes that bombed Vietnam and Laos took off from Thailand.

In 1965, Thailand and the United States signed a secret military contingency plan, the “Tak New Plan” .

The plan stipulates that when the activities of the Lao People’s Party are considered to be a potential threat to the security of the Mekong River Basin, Thailand will send troops to Laos to attack the Lao People’s Party in large numbers.

In the attack on the Pathet Lao in 1972, the Thai army became the main combat force.

The United States even hired the regular Thai army “Tiger Hunting Force” as a “volunteer army” to directly enter Laos and fight side by side with the Royal Lao government forces to attack Pathet Lao.

However, Laotians are no longer the yes Laotians they used to be.

With the blessing of national hatred and family hatred, the Pathet Lao didn’t feel much when seeing Americans, but when they saw Thais, they were really beaten to death!

As a result, Thailand’s intervention army was inexplicably beaten up, and Thailand was so frightened that it never dared to touch Laos again.

Everyone knows what happened next. In 1975, South Vietnam perished and North Vietnam won a complete victory. In the same year, the Pathet Lao also won the Revolutionary War and successfully established the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

But at this time, Laos did not expect that the Thais and Americans were driven away, and their own land began to be coveted by Vietnam again.

As mentioned earlier, Vietnam relied on colonists to open up its borders. Although it is independent now, Vietnam has always wanted to re-establish the Indochina Federation, bring Laos and Cambodia back into it, and combine them into one country.

Of course, this country must be dominated by Vietnamese.

The Vietnamese had premeditated this. When the Lao People’s Party and the Cambodian People’s Revolutionary Party were established, Vietnam asked them to write the pursuit of the establishment of a federation of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia into their manifesto.

In this regard, Cambodia is unwilling. Although it was born out of the Indochina Communist Party, its rulers have a strong sense of crisis and independence. They have always kept a certain distance from Vietnam, for fear of being controlled or annexed by Vietnam.

Laos is different. Most of Laos was brought down with the help of Vietnam. There are more Vietnamese advisers in the Lao People’s Army than Lao soldiers.

The first-generation leaders of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, especially the top military and political leaders, are almost all Vietnamese or Vietnamese descendants.

Even if an individual leader is not Vietnamese, the wife he marries must be a Vietnamese woman. Senior party, government and military cadres in Laos are all trained and studied in Vietnam.

Therefore, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party cannot resist Vietnam’s demands at all.

In 1977, Laos and Vietnam signed the 25-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Laos and Vietnam.

The treaty stipulates: “Both sides promise to work hard to defend and develop the special relationship between the two parties and the two countries of Laos and Vietnam”.

At the beginning, Vietnam wanted to continue to use the name Indochina Federation, but this name has too heavy a colonial color, which is likely to trigger bad memories of the Laotians, so Vietnam considered a “special relationship”.

What is a special relationship?

Politics, economy, culture, and military all listen to me, and be my younger brother. After a long time, a referendum will be held, and they will be merged.

After Laos was settled, Vietnam set its sights on Cambodia.

In late 1978, Vietnam took advantage of the civil unrest in Cambodia and the so-called Khmer Rouge’s brutal rule, and led its army to invade Cambodia.

Since the Vietnamese army was all veterans who had just finished the Vietnam War, and their combat effectiveness was strong, the Khmer Rouge regime was destroyed within a month.

If Vietnam’s plan succeeds, then an “Indochina Federation” with an area of ​​700,000 square kilometers will be formed soon, and Vietnam will be one step closer to its dream of becoming a big country.

But Vietnam’s ambitions have also raised alarms in China and Thailand.

Especially in Thailand, how can you allow others to sleep soundly beside the couch? What’s more, such a big Indochina Federation?

What’s more, Vietnam has already begun to invade Thailand!

Because some anti-Vietnamese guerrillas are often active on the Thai-Cambodian border, Vietnam often broke into Thai territory when fighting Cambodian guerrillas.

In 1979, the Vietnamese army invaded Thai territory 41 times and had 23 armed conflicts with the Thai army;

In 1980, the Cambodian and Vietnamese troops invaded Thai territory 36 times and exchanged fire with the Thai army 21 times, and the Thai army lost more than they won against the powerful Vietnamese army.

In this regard, Thailand cannot handle it on its own, so it can only ask for help from big countries.

However, the United States had just withdrawn from Vietnam for a few years and was in a period of comprehensive strategic contraction, so it was unwilling to intervene.

Thailand, desperate, thought of China.

In early 1979, the Thai Foreign Minister visited China.

During the visit to China, Thailand hopes that China and Thailand can strengthen military cooperation and jointly curb Vietnam’s ambition to dominate Southeast Asia.

One month later, on February 17, China’s self-defense counterattack against Vietnam broke out.

During the month of fighting, China successfully destroyed the military strength and war potential of the Vietnamese army on the northern border, forcing Vietnam to deploy troops from Cambodia to reinforce the northern border, which greatly eased the pressure on the Thai army.

At the same time, China also sent special personnel to teach the Thais how to deal with the Vietnamese army (after all, the tactics of the Vietnamese were taught by the Chinese military academy), which strengthened the confidence of the Thai army in fighting against Vietnam.

Tanks and artillery made in China are sold to Thailand in the form of half-selling and half-giving.

With the support of China, the Thai army grew rapidly, and the Vietnamese army could only retreat steadily, and finally had to withdraw from the Thai land.

In March 1984, seeing the calm in the north, the unwilling Vietnamese army invaded Thailand again.

One month later, on April 28, China launched the “Two Mountains Round Battle” again, and the Vietnamese army had to withdraw from Thailand again to defend the north, and the pressure on Thailand was relieved.

Not long after Laoshan was recovered, the Supreme Chief of the Thai Armed Forces and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Admiral Atie Qianlangyi, led a team to visit China.

He also specially went to the front line to condolences to the soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army, presented gifts to Zang Lei, commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 118th Regiment of the Laoshan Main Attack Regiment, and expressed his respect for the Chinese soldiers.

In the late 1990s, as the Soviet Union collapsed step by step and finally stopped sheltering Vietnam from wind and rain, Vietnam finally recognized the reality and began to withdraw its troops from Vietnam and Cambodia.

In 1991, the Seventh National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam explicitly abandoned the reference to “fulfilling international obligations” in Laos and Cambodia.

Laos has also begun to build “equal party-to-party relations”, allowing Laos to generally have autonomy in domestic and foreign affairs.

In 2002, after the expiration of the “Vietnam-Laos Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation”, Vietnam and Laos did not renew it, and Laos immediately canceled Vietnam’s right to garrison troops in Laos.

Vietnam withdrew its garrison, and changed to “in case of turmoil or external threats in Laos”, the Vietnamese army can enter the “incident area” to act together with the Lao army.

However, although Laos has ended its relationship with the Vietnamese puppet state and sovereign state, due to historical inertia, Laos’ politics, military affairs, and diplomacy are still greatly influenced by Vietnam.

This situation did not change until China began to intervene in Laos.

03

New situation brought by China

Why can Vietnam still control and influence Laos to a considerable extent after withdrawing its troops from Laos?

It is because Vietnam holds the lifeblood of Laos.

If we look at the topographic map of the Indochina Peninsula, we will find that there are three large north-south mountains on the peninsula (the remnants of the Hengduan Mountains in China) that divide the Indochina Peninsula.

The mountains to the west separate the northeastern state of India, the mountains of Burma isolate Myanmar to the west, Thailand and Cambodia to the east, and then the Changshan Mountains, extending to the sea, isolate Vietnam.

Laos is the country that rides on the long mountain range.

Because the territory is mostly mountainous, although the land area is two-thirds of Vietnam, the population is only one-tenth of Vietnam.

The most important thing is that Laos is surrounded by other countries, and there is no outlet to the sea.

Although the terrain is rugged, Laos is rich in mineral resources.

There are tin, lead, copper, iron and other outputs. The forest coverage rate is 80%. High-quality wood such as huanghuali is everywhere. There is also the world’s third largest potash mine (the main raw material of potash fertilizer, which is also the raw material that China relies on imports for 50%).

But these resources can only be sold for money if they are shipped out, and they are nothing if they are not shipped out and piled up at home.

The closest resource export channel for Laos is Vietnam.

Vietnam is firmly in control of Laos’ sea outlets. If there is a crack in the relationship between Laos and Vietnam, then Vietnam can completely deal a huge blow to the Laos economy by cutting off Laos’ sea trade routes.

This is the fundamental reason why Laos has been willing to be controlled by Vietnam for a long time.

However, as Vietnam withdrew from Laos, Laos increasingly discovered that relying on Vietnam would not work!

The reason is simple. Relying on reform and opening up (the Vietnamese version of reform and opening up), Vietnam has undertaken the low-end “labour-intensive processing industry”.

These industries in Vietnam have limited receiving capacity and very limited radiation capacity. The main upstream supply chains are all in China, and the soup will not be given to Laos to drink at all.

Even if Vietnam thinks about the special relationship between the two countries to help Laos, the industrial characteristics of the export processing industry along the coast will make it difficult for Laos to enjoy the development dividend (just as it is difficult for the east and west of China to undertake the transfer of industries along the southeast coast).

Therefore, Laos can only watch Vietnam’s 10% annual growth rate grow rapidly, but it has become the poorest country in the world.

In 2020, the GDP of Laos will only be US$19.136 billion, or more than RMB 100 billion, which may be a little worse than some of the top 100 counties in China.

The proportion of the poor population reaches 50%, and there is basically no industry. These years, it has become a labor pool in Vietnam.

Most of the population flowed to Vietnam to work illegally and even went to northern Myanmar to engage in the pornography, gambling and drug industry, which is very tragic.

Therefore, if you continue to follow Vietnam, the future of Laos will only be marginalized, and it will become a source of raw materials, labor and commodity dumping for Vietnam, completely losing hope for development.

When Laos was worried, China came.

The relationship between China and Laos was actually relatively cold during the Sino-Vietnamese War, but as Laos looked north, the importance of Laos in Chinese geopolitics began to rise rapidly.

China has always had a plan for the Trans-Asian Railway.

This plan was first proposed by Britain and France in 1900 for the Kunming-Singapore railway plan, but a hundred years have passed without much progress.

However, as China’s national strength gradually increased and China began to lead the advancement of the line, the Trans-Asian Railway received widespread attention.

There are three lines of Trans-Asian Railway in Indochina Peninsula:

The east line, namely the China-Vietnam Railway, runs from Kunming, China, through Hanoi, Vietnam, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to Bangkok, Thailand, and connects Malaysia and Singapore in the south.

The middle line , that is, the China-Thailand Railway, starts from Kunming, China, passes through Vientiane, Laos, Bangkok, Thailand, and finally connects Malaysia and Singapore.

The western line , namely the China-Myanmar Railway , runs from Kunming, China, through Yangon, Myanmar, Bangkok, Thailand, and may finally connect to the Indian Ocean.

Since the 1990s, China has done a lot of preliminary research work on the domestic section of the Trans-Asian Railway, and included the domestic section projects of the three plans in the “Medium and Long-Term Railway Network Planning”, which is planned to be completed within 30 years.

However, the countries along the route have their own ghosts, which has become a huge obstacle to this route.

The domestic situation in Myanmar is chaotic, the armed situation of the ethnic groups passing through is complicated, and India has been exerting pressure on Myanmar, resulting in slow progress on the western front.

The remaining 130 kilometers of the China-Myanmar Railway will reach the Indian Ocean, but construction has not yet started.

Vietnam has always been suspicious of China, and wants to rely on China for development, but does not want to be influenced by China.

Therefore, although Vietnam also planned a railway line that runs through the north and the south, the contract was not handed over to China, but to Japan.

As a result, everyone has seen that more than ten years have passed, and the Japanese have repaired ten kilometers.

On the contrary, the fastest progress is currently the most difficult middle line.

At present, the China-Laos Railway has been in operation for one year, and the Thailand-Laos Railway is also under construction.

Why is this so?

This is inseparable from the positive attitude of Laos.

On September 18, 2015, Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lingshawa spoke at a meeting, saying that Laos would change from a “land-locked country” to a “land-linked country”.

The concept of this “land-linked country” is very interesting. Laos is located in the center of the Indochina Peninsula. In the eyes of sea powerists, this central location means that it is far away from the sea and is doomed to have no future for development.

But in the eyes of land powerists, this is the central hub!

If a railway is built here, wouldn’t Laos become Zhengzhou in the Indochina Peninsula?

At that time, Laos will no longer be the country on the peninsula that is at the mercy of others, but a country that is on an equal footing with all countries.

The idea of ​​the “land-linked country” is very good, but it also depends on whether it can be implemented. It is definitely not possible to rely on Vietnam. Vietnam is still counting on locking up Laos.

At this time, only China has the technology, capital, and willingness to help Laos realize this dream.

Therefore, we have seen that in recent years, the relationship between Laos and China has rapidly become closer, and Laos has fully cooperated with China in almost all policies.

For example, Nuokang, the main criminal in the Mekong River case, why did China choose to arrest him in Laos instead of arresting him in Myanmar and Thailand?

It is because Laos has a relatively high degree of cooperation with China in handling cases, and extradition is more convenient.

For example, among ASEAN issues, Laos and Cambodia stand up against any issues that are unfriendly to China.

For example, China is a headache for telecom fraud, and Laos is also fully cooperating. Although there are some “parks” in Laos, Laos only allows “online gaming” and not telecom fraud.

If the Chinese police have evidence to prove that someone in the park is involved in defrauding the Chinese, the Lao police will arrest them without saying a word, and hand them over to China.

Laos’ cuteness has also benefited Laos a lot.

For example, for the China-Laos Railway, the Lao government only needs to provide 33% of the funds, while the Chinese government takes 7% to make up 40%, and the remaining 60% will be jointly borne by Chinese and Lao enterprises.

It is said to be shared, but in fact, most of the 60% is paid by Chinese companies in Laos.

After the railway is completed, the mineral resources of Laos will have a way out.

Yunnan has always been a major province of non-ferrous metals in China, and its non-ferrous metal processing industry has great advantages. Regardless of the output of minerals in Laos, Southwest China can digest them.

Laos has made money selling resources, and the demand for living standards will naturally increase, and China’s investment will pass by then.

With the railway, we can also build highways, develop scenic spots and real estate, and drive economic development such as tourism, agricultural product processing, and mineral development.

As long as it is profitable, with the energy of domestic capital, investing in a Laos with a population of 7 million and doubling the GDP of Laos is not the same as playing?

More importantly, after the China-Thailand Railway is completed in the future, it may directly connect to the Indian Ocean. Then Laos will be the hub for China’s southwestern provinces to connect the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.

This railway will also become a link to re-establish the relationship between Laos and Thailand.

Due to the reduction in transportation costs between Thailand and Laos, it will further facilitate the export of products between Thailand and Laos.

After a long time, the economic ties between the two countries have become closer, and the personnel exchanges have been closer. This can greatly ease the centuries-old grievances between Thais and Laos, and bring these two countries established by the same ethnic group back together.

Moreover, this railway helps to suppress the disobedient Vietnam.

With this railway line, backed by China, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia will have a much harder waist, and Vietnam will also feel like a thorn in its back.

Vietnam’s land is so long and narrow, and South Vietnam was destroyed by Laos. Will Vietnam worry now? Will Thailand use Laos to insert a knife in the middle of Vietnam, making Vietnam become North and South Vietnam again?

04

future

In Southeast Asia, because of historical reasons, there is too much historical hatred.

Although there is an ASEAN, it is still difficult for everyone to let go of their grievances and develop together.

However, with China’s strong intervention, it will bring profound changes to Southeast Asia.

Under the banner of the Belt and Road Initiative and a community with a shared future for mankind, China can change the situation in Southeast Asia by using the Trans-Asian Railway as a starting point.

Before the construction of the Trans-Asian Railway, trade between China and Southeast Asia was mainly carried by sea, but sea freight was easily affected by factors such as weather, shipping schedules, and even geopolitics.

Just imagine, if the United States blocks China’s shipping, then even if there is RCEP, how effective will it be?

It can only be cheap for Japan and South Korea.

Therefore, building a railway that runs through Southeast Asia is the confidence to deal with this strategic risk.

After the completion of the Trans-Asian Railway, products from China’s inland provinces will go west to the Indian Ocean and east to the Pacific Ocean. There will be an additional choice, leaving a guaranteed channel for China’s external channels.

More importantly, if the China-Myanmar and China-Thailand railways can connect to the Indian Ocean, then Chinese oil tankers can avoid being stuck by the United States in the Strait of Malacca.

Coupled with the Pakistan-China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, these three roads go hand in hand to break the crisis in Malacca, which is a huge guarantee for China’s strategic security.

Of course, Western countries have been sabotaging China’s strategic intentions.

For example, Japan is superficially enthusiastic about building railways in Southeast Asian countries, but it also transfers technology and provides funds. In fact, it is fishing for fish all the way.

Over the years, ASEAN countries have also understood.

The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail has been put into trial operation, which has made Southeast Asian countries understand the difference between China and Japan.

At present, Vietnam is also preparing to abandon Japan and let China take over.

In the imaginable future, driven by the China-Laos Railway and the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway, the progress of the Trans-Asian Railway will surely be further accelerated, and the process of China’s integration of Southeast Asia will also be further accelerated.

In this way, perhaps the old three countries of Thailand and Vietnam, which are full of historical grievances, can unite under the banner of a community of shared future for mankind to jointly develop the economy and become China’s stable rear in the Sino-US game. At the same time, it will also bring a new future to Southeast Asia.

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