Laos hopes for economic boost from Chinese-built railway


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BANGKOK: A new US$6 billion Chinese-built railway line opens in Laos on Friday (Dec 3), bringing hopes of an economic boost to the reclusive nation, but experts are questioning the benefits of a project that has seen thousands of farmers evicted from their land. The 414km route took five years to construct under China's trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which funds infrastructure projects aimed at increasing Beijing's clout globally. Struggling strawberry farmer Anouphon Phomhacsar is hoping the new railway will get his business back on track. His farm usually produces up to two tonnes of the red heart-shaped fruits a...