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By Ye Ni 21 October 2019
A Chinese colonyHigh-rise buildings in the Laotian casino city can be seen from across the Mekong River in Chiang Saen, in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province. One might think superficially that the scenery in the Golden Triangle region, long notorious for cultivating poppies and heroin smuggling, had changed dramatically.
The founder of the casino, Chinese businessman Zhao Wei, cooperated with the Laotian government to implement the project. He said he would build a casino and a special economic zone (SEZ) to attract tourists and help develop the impoverished region. The Laotian government cooperated with him.
The Laotian government granted him a land lease for an area of 30 square miles for 75 years, according to a 2015 research paper by Pinkaew Laungaramsri of Chiang Mai University, but other researchers said the land was on a 99-year lease. Zhao promised that the area would be a trade hub by 2020 complete with a five-star hotel, an entertainment center, a casino, banks, a golf course, schools, a hospital, an airport, a jetty and other services.
Ten years after the project started, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on four people—Zhao, his wife, an Australian and a Thai—for serious illicit activities. The US government announced that Hong Kong-based Kings Romans International (HK) Co. Ltd had expanded its business into Southeast Asia and the administration traced drugs seized by Thai, Laotian and Chinese authorities since 2014 to the casino.
Before he started operating the casino in the Golden Triangle, Zhao operated a casino in Mongla Autonomous Region in eastern Myanmar. Authorities in Yunnan, China, forced the casino to shut down. As in Mongla, he initially engaged in the illegal wildlife trade in the Laotian casino city. However, he gave up smuggling of wildlife after the Laotian government forced him to do so because of American sanctions and the attention of the international media. I did not see smuggling of wildlife when I was there.
As soon as I set foot there I felt as if I were in a Chinese colony. Chinese standard time was used in the city. Chinese currency was used in the city. Vehicle license plate numbers were written in Chinese. Signboards were written in Chinese. Everything gave a hint of Chinese influence.
An irony was that Chinese capitalists expelled local residents from their land by giving compensation under a poverty-elimination development project approved by the communist Laotian government. According to Pinkaew’s paper, local residents had to struggle to get proper compensation for their houses, plantations, farms and crops between 2008 and 2012. The Chinese company offered them US$2,000 (3.06 million kyats) to $2,500 per household and between $26,000 and $34,000 to those who owned houses, plantations, farms and crops.
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/vi ... qHR-wqnJrE
I heard that the rooms are quite modern with a washing machine in each.phuketrichard wrote: ↑Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:42 pm sound familiar?
The US government announced that Hong Kong-based Kings Romans International (HK) Co. Ltd had expanded its business into Southeast Asia and the administration traced drugs seized by Thai, Laotian and Chinese authorities since 2014 to the casino.
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