chapter  10
The China-Laos Boundary: Lan Xang Meets the Middle Kingdom
ByIan Townsend-Gault
Pages 12

Of all the boundaries examined in this book, the undisputed border between China and Laos (formerly the Kingdom of Lan Xang) might at first appear to be one of the least important, at only 264 miles (425 km).1 Perhaps because it is land-locked, many writers treat Laos as less interesting and vital than its neighbors.2 The country and its people have always attracted much less attention than Vietnam and even Cambodia. The French liked to distinguish between the different parts of what they called L’Union d’Indochine by claiming that the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians watch it grow, and the Lao listen to it grow. Certainly the Lao gave their colonial masters much less trouble than the Vietnamese.3 Southeast Asia’s only land-locked (or “land-linked”) state, Laos is strategically well placed to constitute one or more east-west land bridges-potentially linking northern Myanmar and Thailand to ports on the South China Sea-and allowing for the development of north-south trade routes from China’s Yunnan Province. Former Deputy Prime Minister Khampoui Keoboulapha has even stated: “We want to become the link between Vietnam, China, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia.”4