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Laos Dams the Greenies; Launches Great Water and Rail Projects

Nov. 15—The small, underdeveloped, underpopulated Southeast Asian country of Laos chose the most conspicuous moment possible to announce its decision to move into the modern developed world as quickly as possible. In conjunction with the Ninth Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM), in the Laotian capital of Vientiane in early November, Laos announced that it will proceed with the construction of three great projects: the controversial $3.5 billion Xayaburi hydropower dam on the Mekong River; the Chinese-funded $7 billion high-speed rail link from Vientiane, north into China; and the Malaysian-funded $5 billion East-West rail route that will link Thailand with Vietnam through the Lao panhandle.