Yang Bin is PhD candidate at Yunnan University. My research focuses on Chinese agricultural investment abroad, particular on land grabbing issues in Mekong region, such as the governance of the invested land, the relationship between the investor and investee, social and environmental effects for local communities, etc. Previous to my PhD study, he spent almost 10 years on agriculture and development issues in international organizations and two years research work in University. He grew up as a minority in a mountain area in China, and has personal experience with agricultural activities.
Between land grabbing and sustainable development—Chinese Agricultural investment in North of Laos
Chinese oversea agricultural investment raises rapidly in the past decade. In Laos, since this landlocked country opened its land markets to foreign investment in the early 2000s, foreign capital has poured into the country, Chinese Agriculture investors constitute a large portion of this influx of capital and in the late 2000s China overtook Thailand and Vietnam to become the top investor in Laos. The investment results land use change in north of Laos significantly. In addition, China has renewed its global outreach agenda through the debated Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Laos ties this initiative by launching the China-Lao railway project. They study foresees more Chinese agricultural investment and land use change in north of Laos. Many criticism has label China as “Land grabber” that draw considerable attention globally for study. Media headlines proclaimed a Chinese takeover of northern Laos. Some researchers see land grabs as a major threat to the lives and livelihoods of the rural poor. Others see economic opportunity for the rural poor, although they are wary of corruption and negative consequences. However, there are lack of quantitative studies which reveal the land use change and livelihood of the local people where the Chinese investment concentrated. Meanwhile, most of the empirical studies carried out by western researchers got the in-depth information from the indigenous people, governmental officials and NGOs, but ignore the voices from the Chinese investors, and rarely pay attention on the historical reasons and cultural sectors, which the interaction between China and Laos have existed for hundreds of years. Consequently, the research aims through the in-depth field work in Oudomxay, a province in north Laos next to China-Lao boarder, mixing quantitative and qualitative methods, to present a holistic picture and impact of Chinese agricultural investment and land use change in north of Laos, and reveal the complex relationship between the Chinese investors and local stakeholders instead of one-sided analyses.
Affiliation: Yunnan University