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Laos vs. China

Introduction

LaosChina
BackgroundModern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century, when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the communist Pathet Lao took control of the government, ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997 and the WTO in 2013.
For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, MAO's successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight. Since the early 1990s, China has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.

Geography

LaosChina
LocationSoutheastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam
Geographic coordinates18 00 N, 105 00 E
35 00 N, 105 00 E
Map referencesSoutheast Asia
Asia
Areatotal: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
total: 9,596,960 sq km
land: 9,326,410 sq km
water: 270,550 sq km
Area - comparativeabout twice the size of Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Utah
slightly smaller than the US
Land boundariestotal: 5,274 km
border countries (5): Burma 238 km, Cambodia 555 km, China 475 km, Thailand 1,845 km, Vietnam 2,161 km
total: 22,457 km
border countries (14): Afghanistan 91 km, Bhutan 477 km, Burma 2,129 km, India 2,659 km, Kazakhstan 1,765 km, North Korea 1,352 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,063 km, Laos 475 km, Mongolia 4,630 km, Nepal 1,389 km, Pakistan 438 km, Russia (northeast) 4,133 km, Russia (northwest) 46 km, Tajikistan 477 km, Vietnam 1,297 km
regional border(s) (2): Hong Kong 33 km, Macau 3 km
Coastline0 km (landlocked)
14,500 km
Maritime claimsnone (landlocked)
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climatetropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north
Terrainmostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east
Elevation extremesmean elevation: 710 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Mekong River 70 m
highest point: Phu Bia 2,817 m
mean elevation: 1,840 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m (highest peak in Asia and highest point on earth above sea level)
Natural resourcestimber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, rare earth elements, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest), arable land
Land useagricultural land: 10.6%
arable land 6.2%; permanent crops 0.7%; permanent pasture 3.7%
forest: 67.9%
other: 21.5% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 54.7%
arable land 11.3%; permanent crops 1.6%; permanent pasture 41.8%
forest: 22.3%
other: 23% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land3,100 sq km (2012)
690,070 sq km (2012)
Natural hazardsfloods, droughts
frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts; land subsidence
volcanism: China contains some historically active volcanoes including Changbaishan (also known as Baitoushan, Baegdu, or P'aektu-san), Hainan Dao, and Kunlun although most have been relatively inactive in recent centuries
Environment - current issuesunexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water
air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal produces acid rain; China is the world's largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notelandlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
world's fourth largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US) and largest country situated entirely in Asia; Mount Everest on the border with Nepal is the world's tallest peak above sea level
Population distributionmost densely populated area is in and around the capital city of Vientiane; large communities are primarily found along the Mekong River along the southwestern border; overall density is considered one of the lowest in Southeast Asia
overwhelming majority of the population is found in the eastern half of the country; the west, with its vast mountainous and desert areas, remains sparsely populated; though ranked first in the world in total population, overall density is less than that of many other countries in Asia and Europe; high population density is found along the Yangtze and Yellow River valleys, the Xi Jiang River delta, the Sichuan Basin (around Chengdu), in and around Beijing, and the industrial area around Shenyang

Demographics

LaosChina
Population7,019,073 (July 2016 est.)
1,373,541,278 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 33.4% (male 1,184,344/female 1,159,731)
15-24 years: 21.29% (male 742,073/female 751,983)
25-54 years: 36.1% (male 1,250,108/female 1,283,834)
55-64 years: 5.36% (male 184,183/female 192,298)
65 years and over: 3.85% (male 122,485/female 148,034) (2016 est.)
0-14 years: 17.1% (male 126,732,020/female 108,172,771)
15-24 years: 13.27% (male 97,126,460/female 85,135,228)
25-54 years: 48.42% (male 339,183,101/female 325,836,319)
55-64 years: 10.87% (male 75,376,730/female 73,859,424)
65 years and over: 10.35% (male 67,914,015/female 74,205,210) (2016 est.)
Median agetotal: 22.7 years
male: 22.4 years
female: 23 years (2016 est.)
total: 37.1 years
male: 36.2 years
female: 38.1 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate1.53% (2016 est.)
0.43% (2016 est.)
Birth rate23.9 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
12.4 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate7.5 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
7.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate-1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
at birth: 1.15 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.14 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 51.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 56.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 45.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
total: 12.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 64.3 years
male: 62.2 years
female: 66.4 years (2016 est.)
total population: 75.5 years
male: 73.5 years
female: 77.9 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate2.76 children born/woman (2016 est.)
1.6 children born/woman (2016 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.26% (2014 est.)
0.1% (2012 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
adjective: Lao or Laotian
noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groupsLao 53.2%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 9.2%, Phouthay 3.4%, Tai 3.1%, Makong 2.5%, Katong 2.2%, Lue 2%, Akha 1.8%, other 11.6%
note: the Laos Government officially recognizes 49 ethnic groups, but the total number of ethnic groups is estimated to be well over 200 (2015 est.)
Han Chinese 91.6%, Zhuang 1.3%, other (includes Hui, Manchu, Uighur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongol, Dong, Buyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai and other nationalities) 7.1%
note: the Chinese Government officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups (2010 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS11,100 (2014 est.)
780,000 (2012 est.)
ReligionsBuddhist 64.7%, Christian 1.7%, none 31.4%, other/not stated 2.1% (2015 est.)
Buddhist 18.2%, Christian 5.1%, Muslim 1.8%, folk religion 21.9%, Hindu < 0.1%, Jewish < 0.1%, other 0.7% (includes Daoist (Taoist)), unaffiliated 52.2%
note: officially atheist (2010 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths500 (2014 est.)
NA
LanguagesLao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages
Standard Chinese or Mandarin (official; Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
note: Zhuang is official in Guangxi Zhuang, Yue is official in Guangdong, Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, Kyrgyz is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.9%
male: 87.1%
female: 72.8% (2015 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.4%
male: 98.2%
female: 94.5% (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria (2016)
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: Japanese encephalitis
soil contact disease: hantaviral hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) (2016)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2015)
total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2015)
Education expenditures3.3% of GDP (2014)
NA
Urbanizationurban population: 38.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 4.93% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
urban population: 55.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 3.05% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 85.6% of population
rural: 69.4% of population
total: 75.7% of population
unimproved:
urban: 14.4% of population
rural: 30.6% of population
total: 24.3% of population (2015 est.)
improved:
urban: 97.5% of population
rural: 93% of population
total: 95.5% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2.5% of population
rural: 7% of population
total: 4.5% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 94.5% of population
rural: 56% of population
total: 70.9% of population
unimproved:
urban: 5.5% of population
rural: 44% of population
total: 29.1% of population (2015 est.)
improved:
urban: 86.6% of population
rural: 63.7% of population
total: 76.5% of population
unimproved:
urban: 13.4% of population
rural: 36.3% of population
total: 23.5% of population (2015 est.)
Major cities - populationVIENTIANE (capital) 997,000 (2015)
Shanghai 23.741 million; BEIJING (capital) 20.384 million; Chongqing 13.332 million; Guangdong 12.458 million; Tianjin 11.21 million; Shenzhen 10.749 million (2015)
Maternal mortality rate197 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
27 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight26.5% (2012)
3.4% (2010)
Health expenditures1.9% of GDP (2014)
5.5% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density0.18 physicians/1,000 population (2012)
1.49 physicians/1,000 population (2011)
Hospital bed density1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
3.8 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate3% (2014)
7.3% (2014)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 62.8
youth dependency ratio: 56.6
elderly dependency ratio: 6.2
potential support ratio: 16.1 (2015 est.)
total dependency ratio: 36.6
youth dependency ratio: 23.5
elderly dependency ratio: 13
potential support ratio: 7.7 (2015 est.)

Government

LaosChina
Country name"conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
conventional short form: Laos
local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
local short form: Mueang Lao (unofficial)
etymology: name means ""Land of the Lao [people]""
"
"conventional long form: People's Republic of China
conventional short form: China
local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
local short form: Zhongguo
abbreviation: PRC
etymology: English name derives from the Qin (Chin) rulers of the 3rd century B.C., who comprised the first imperial dynasty of ancient China; the Chinese name Zhongguo translates as ""Central Nation""
"
Government typecommunist state
communist state
Capitalname: Vientiane (Viangchan)
geographic coordinates: 17 58 N, 102 36 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
"name: Beijing
geographic coordinates: 39 55 N, 116 23 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
note: despite its size, all of China falls within one time zone; many people in Xinjiang Province observe an unofficial ""Xinjiang time zone"" of UTC+6, two hours behind Beijing
"
Administrative divisions17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural) and 1 capital city* (nakhon luang, singular and plural); Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan (Vientiane)*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun, Xekong, Xiangkhouang
23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 4 municipalities (shi, singular and plural)
provinces: Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; (see note on Taiwan)
autonomous regions: Guangxi, Nei Mongol (Inner Mongolia), Ningxia, Xinjiang Uygur, Xizang (Tibet)
municipalities: Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Tianjin
note: China considers Taiwan its 23rd province; see separate entries for the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau
Independence19 July 1949 (from France)
1 October 1949 (People's Republic of China established); notable earlier dates: 221 B.C. (unification under the Qin Dynasty); 1 January 1912 (Qing Dynasty replaced by the Republic of China)
National holidayRepublic Day (National Day), 2 December (1975)
National Day (anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China), 1 October (1949)
Constitutionprevious 1947 (preindependence); latest promulgated 13-15 August 1991; amended 2003, 2015 (2016)
several previous; latest promulgated 4 December 1982; amended several times, last in 2004 (2016)
Legal systemcivil law system similar in form to the French system
civil law influenced by Soviet and continental European civil law systems; legislature retains power to interpret statutes; note - criminal procedure law revised in early 2012
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President BOUNNYANG Vorachit (since 20 April 2016); Vice President PHANKHAM Viphavan (since 20 April 2016)
head of government: Prime Minister THONGLOUN Sisoulit (since 20 April 2016); Deputy Prime Ministers BOUNTHONG Chitmani, SONXAI Siphandon, SOMDI Douangdi (since 20 April 2016)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 20 April 2016 (next to be held in 2021); prime minister nominated by the president, elected by the National Assembly for 5-year term
election results: BOUNNYANG Vorachit (LPRP) elected president; PHANKHAM Viphavan (LPRP) elected vice president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA; THONGLOUN Sisoulit (LPRP) elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - NA
chief of state: President XI Jinping (since 14 March 2013); Vice President LI Yuanchao (since 14 March 2013)
head of government: Premier LI Keqiang (since 16 March 2013); Executive Vice Premiers ZHANG Gaoli (since 16 March 2013), LIU Yandong (since 16 March 2013), MA Kai (since 16 March 2013), WANG Yang (since 16 March 2013)
cabinet: State Council appointed by National People's Congress
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by National People's Congress for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 5-17 March 2013 (next to be held in March 2018); premier nominated by president, confirmed by National People's Congress
election results: XI Jinping elected president; National People's Congress vote - 2,952 ; LI Yuanchao elected vice president with 2,940 votes
Legislative branchdescription: unicameral National Assembly or Sapha Heng Xat (132 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote from candidate lists provided by the Lao People's Revolutionary Party; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 20 April 2016 (next to be held in 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPRP 128, independent 4
description: unicameral National People's Congress or Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui (2,987 seats; members indirectly elected by municipal, regional, and provincial people's congresses, and the People's Liberation Army; members serve 5-year terms); note - in practice, only members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), its 8 allied parties, and CCP-approved independent candidates are elected
elections: last held in December 2012-February 2013 (next to be held in late 2017 to early 2018)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - 2,987
Judicial branchhighest court(s): People's Supreme Court (consists of the court president and organized into criminal, civil, administrative, commercial, family, and juvenile chambers, each with a vice president and several judges)
judge selection and term of office: president of People's Supreme Court appointed by National Assembly on recommendation of the president of the republic for a 5-year term; vice presidents of People's Supreme Court appointed by the president of the republic on recommendation of the National Assembly; appointment of chamber judges NA; tenure of court vice-presidents and chamber judges NA
subordinate courts: appellate courts; provincial, municipal, district, and military courts
highest court(s): Supreme People's Court (consists of over 340 judges including the chief justice, 13 grand justices organized into a civil committee and tribunals for civil, economic, administrative, complaint and appeal, and communication and transportation cases)
judge selection and term of office: chief justice appointed by the People's National Congress (NPC); term limited to 2 consecutive 5-year terms; other justices and judges nominated by the chief justice and appointed by the Standing Committee of the NPC; term of other justices and judges determined by the NPC
subordinate courts: Higher People's Courts; Intermediate People's Courts; District and County People's Courts; Autonomous Region People's Courts; Special People's Courts for military, maritime, transportation, and forestry issues
note: in late 2014, China unveiled planned judicial reforms
Political parties and leadersLao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [BOUNNYANG Vorachit]
note: other parties proscribed
Chinese Communist Party or CCP [XI Jinping]
note: China has eight nominally independent small parties ultimately controlled by the CCP
Political pressure groups and leadersNA
no substantial political opposition groups exist
International organization participationADB, ARF, ASEAN, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO (subscriber), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, Arctic Council (observer), ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), BIS, BRICS, CDB, CICA, EAS, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-24 (observer), G-5, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SCO, SICA (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador MAI Xaignavong (since 3 August 2015)
chancery: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-6416
FAX: [1] (202) 332-4923
consulate(s): New York
chief of mission: Ambassador CUI Tiankai (since 3 April 2013)
chancery: 3505 International Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 495-2266
FAX: [1] (202) 495-2138
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador Rena BITTER (since 2 November 2016)
embassy: Thadeua Road, Kilometer 9, Ban Somvang Tai, Hatsayfong District, Vientiane
mailing address: American Embassy Vientiane, Unit 46222, APO AP 96546-6222
telephone: [856] 21-48-7000
FAX: [856] 21-48-7190
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires David A. RANK (since 20 January 2017)
embassy: 55 An Jia Lou Lu, 100600 Beijing
mailing address: PSC 461, Box 50, FPO AP 96521-0002
telephone: [86] (10) 8531-3000
FAX: [86] (10) 8531-3300
consulate(s) general: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, Wuhan
Flag descriptionthree horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band; the red bands recall the blood shed for liberation; the blue band represents the Mekong River and prosperity; the white disk symbolizes the full moon against the Mekong River, but also signifies the unity of the people under the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, as well as the country's bright future
red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner; the color red represents revolution, while the stars symbolize the four social classes - the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie (capitalists) - united under the Communist Party of China
National anthem"name: ""Pheng Xat Lao"" (Hymn of the Lao People)
lyrics/music: SISANA Sisane/THONGDY Sounthonevichit
note: music adopted 1945, lyrics adopted 1975; the anthem's lyrics were changed following the 1975 Communist revolution that overthrew the monarchy
"
"name: ""Yiyongjun Jinxingqu"" (The March of the Volunteers)
lyrics/music: TIAN Han/NIE Er
note: adopted 1949; the anthem, though banned during the Cultural Revolution, is more commonly known as ""Zhongguo Guoge"" (Chinese National Song); it was originally the theme song to the 1935 Chinese movie, ""Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm""
"
International law organization participationhas not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
National symbol(s)elephant; national colors: red, white, blue
dragon; national colors: red, yellow
Citizenshipcitizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Laos
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: least one parent must be a citizen of China
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: while naturalization is theoretically possible, in practical terms it is extremely difficult; residency is required but not specified

Economy

LaosChina
Economy - overviewThe government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. Economic growth averaged more than 6% per year from 1988-2008, and Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia, averaging nearly 8% per year for most of the last decade, but has declined over the past year and is expected to be around 6.8% in 2017, according to the IMF.

Nevertheless, Laos remains a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. It has a basic, but improving, road system, and limited external and internal land-line telecommunications. Electricity is available to 83% of the population. Agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 25% of GDP and 73% of total employment. Recently, the country has faced a persistent current account deficit, falling foreign currency reserves, and growing public debt, as slow recovery of the global economy, especially that of China, has driven down the prices of its mineral exports.

Laos' economy is heavily dependent on capital-intensive natural resource exports. The economy has benefited from high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower dams along the Mekong River, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction, although some projects in these industries have drawn criticism for their environmental impacts.

Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US in 2004 and applied for Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits in 2013 after being admitted to the World Trade Organization earlier in the year. Laos held the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2016. Laos is in the process of implementing a value-added tax system. The government appears committed to raising the country's profile among foreign investors and has developed special economic zones replete with generous tax incentives, but a limited labor pool, a small domestic market, and corruption remain impediments to investment. Laos also has ongoing problems with the business environment, including onerous registration requirements, a gap between legislation and implementation, and unclear or conflicting regulations.
"Since the late 1970s, China has moved from a closed, centrally planned system to a more market-oriented one that plays a major global role. China has implemented reforms in a gradualist fashion, resulting in efficiency gains that have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978. Reforms began with the phase-out of collectivized agriculture, and expanded to include the gradual liberalization of prices, fiscal decentralization, increased autonomy for state enterprises, growth of the private sector, development of stock markets and a modern banking system, and opening to foreign trade and investment. China continues to pursue an industrial policy, state-support of key sectors, and a restrictive investment regime. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, China in 2016 stood as the largest economy in the world, surpassing the US in 2014 for the first time in modern history. China became the world's largest exporter in 2010, and the largest trading nation in 2013. Still, China's per capita income is below the world average.

After keeping its currency tightly linked to the US dollar for years, China in July 2005 moved to an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies. From mid-2005 to late 2008, the renminbi appreciated more than 20% against the US dollar, but the exchange rate remained virtually pegged to the dollar from the onset of the global financial crisis until June 2010, when Beijing allowed resumption of a gradual liberalization. In 2015, the People’s Bank of China announced it would continue to carefully push for full convertibility of the renminbi after the currency was accepted as part of the IMF’s special drawing rights basket. After engaging in one-way, large-scale intervention to resist appreciation of the RMB for a decade, China’s 2016 intervention in foreign exchange markets has sought to prevent a rapid RMB depreciation that would have negative consequences for the United States, China, and the global economy.

China’s economic growth has slowed since 2011. The Chinese Government faces numerous economic challenges including: (a) reducing its high domestic savings rate and correspondingly low domestic household consumption; (b) servicing its high corporate debt burdens to maintain financial stability (c) facilitating higher-wage job opportunities for the aspiring middle class, including rural migrants and college graduates, while maintaining competitiveness; (d) dampening speculative investment in the real estate sector; (e) reducing industrial overcapacity; and (f) raising productivity growth rates through the more efficient allocation of capital. Economic development has progressed further in coastal provinces than in the interior, and by 2016 more than 169.3 million migrant workers and their dependents had relocated to urban areas to find work. One consequence of China’s population control policy known as the “one-child policy”—which was relaxed in 2016 to permit all families to have two children-- is that China is now one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world. Deterioration in the environment - notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table, especially in the North - is another long-term problem. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and urbanization. The Chinese government is seeking to add energy production capacity from sources other than coal and oil, focusing on natural gas, nuclear, and clean energy development. In 2016, China ratified the Paris Agreement, a multilateral agreement to combat climate change, and committed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions between 2025 and 2030.

The government's 13th Five-Year Plan, unveiled in March 2016, emphasizes the need to increase innovation and boost domestic consumption to make the economy less dependent on government investment, exports, and heavy industry. However, China has made only marginal progress toward these rebalancing goals. Under President XI Jinping, Beijing has signaled its understanding that China's long-term economic health depends on giving the market a more decisive role in allocating resources, but has moved slowly on market-oriented reforms because of potential negative consequences for stability and short-term economic growth. He has also increased state-control over key sectors and Party control over State Owned Enterprises. Chinese leaders in 2010 pledged to double China’s GDP by 2020, and the 13th Five Year Plan includes annual economic growth targets of at least 6.5% through 2020 to achieve that goal. In recent years, China has renewed its support for state-owned enterprises in sectors considered important to ""economic security,"" explicitly looking to foster globally competitive industries. Chinese leaders also have undermined some market-oriented reforms by reaffirming the “dominant” role of the state in the economy, a stance that threatens to discourage private initiative and make the economy less efficient over time.
"
GDP (purchasing power parity)$40.96 billion (2016 est.)
$38.11 billion (2015 est.)
$35.43 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$21.14 trillion (2016 est.)
$19.82 trillion (2015 est.)
$18.34 trillion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - real growth rate7.5% (2016 est.)
7.6% (2015 est.)
7.5% (2014 est.)
6.7% (2016 est.)
6.9% (2015 est.)
7.3% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$5,700 (2016 est.)
$5,400 (2015 est.)
$5,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$14,600 (2016 est.)
$14,500 (2015 est.)
$13,400 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 21.3%
industry: 32.5%
services: 39.4% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 8.6%
industry: 39.8%
services: 51.6%
(2016 est.)
Population below poverty line22% (2013 est.)
3.3%
note: in 2011, China set a new poverty line at RMB 2300 (approximately US $400)
(2016 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2008)
lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 31.4%
note: data are for urban households only (2012)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.7% (2016 est.)
1.3% (2015 est.)
2% (2016 est.)
1.4% (2015 est.)
Labor force3.5 million (2016 est.)
907.5 million
note: by the end of 2012, China's population at working age (15-64 years) was 1.004 billion (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 73.1%
industry: 6.1%
services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
agriculture: 28.3%
industry: 29.3%
services: 42.4%
(2015 est.)
Unemployment rate1.3% (2012 est.)
1.4% (2014 est.)
4% (2016 est.)
4.1% (2015 est.)
note: data are for registered urban unemployment, which excludes private enterprises and migrants
Distribution of family income - Gini index36.7 (2008)
34.6 (2002)
46.5 (2016 est.)
46.2 (2015 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $2.882 billion
expenditures: $3.822 billion (2016 est.)
revenues: $2.3 trillion
expenditures: $2.708 trillion (2016 est.)
Industriesmining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism
world leader in gross value of industrial output; mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products (including footwear, toys, and electronics); food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, aircraft; telecommunications equipment, commercial space launch vehicles, satellites
Industrial production growth rate8% (2016 est.)
6% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productssweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc, tapioca), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
world leader in gross value of agricultural output; rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, tobacco, peanuts, tea, apples, cotton, pork, mutton, eggs; fish, shrimp
Exports$3.075 billion (2016 est.)
$2.928 billion (2015 est.)
$2.098 trillion (2016 est.)
$2.143 trillion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditieswood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
electrical and other machinery, including data processing equipment, apparel, furniture, textiles, integrated circuits
Exports - partnersThailand 30.4%, China 26.9%, Vietnam 17.5% (2015)
US 18%, Hong Kong 14.6%, Japan 6%, South Korea 4.5% (2015)
Imports$3.936 billion (2016 est.)
$4.058 billion (2015 est.)
$1.587 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.576 trillion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
electrical and other machinery, oil and mineral fuels; nuclear reactor, boiler, and machinery components; optical and medical equipment, metal ores, motor vehicles; soybeans
Imports - partnersThailand 60.9%, China 18.6%, Vietnam 7.3% (2015)
South Korea 10.9%, US 9%, Japan 8.9%, Germany 5.5%, Australia 4.1% (2015)
Debt - external$11.98 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.77 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.421 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.418 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange rateskips (LAK) per US dollar -
8,190.2 (2016 est.)
8,147.9 (2015 est.)
8,147.9 (2014 est.)
8,049 (2013 est.)
8,007.3 (2012 est.)
Renminbi yuan (RMB) per US dollar -
6.626 (2016 est.)
6.2275 (2015 est.)
6.2275 (2014 est.)
6.1958 (2013 est.)
6.3123 (2012 est.)
Fiscal year1 October - 30 September
calendar year
Public debt61.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
61.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
16.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
15.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: official data; data cover both central government debt and local government debt, which China's National Audit Office estimated at RMB 10.72 trillion (approximately US$1.66 trillion) in 2011; data exclude policy bank bonds, Ministry of Railway debt, China Asset Management Company debt, and non-performing loans
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$1.024 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.058 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$3.01 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$3.405 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance-$2.35 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.114 billion (2015 est.)
$196.4 billion (2016 est.)
$304.2 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$13.76 billion (2016 est.)
$10.73 trillion (2016 est.)
note: because China's exchange rate is determined by fiat rather than by market forces, the official exchange rate measure of GDP is not an accurate measure of China's output; GDP at the official exchange rate substantially understates the actual level of China's output vis-a-vis the rest of the world; in China's situation, GDP at purchasing power parity provides the best measure for comparing output across countries
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$15.14 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$12.44 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.458 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.221 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$1.012 billion (2012 est.)
$576.8 million (2011 est.)
$7.321 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$8.188 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$6.005 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
Central bank discount rate4.3% (31 December 2010)
4% (31 December 2009)
2.25% (31 December 2016 est.)
2.25% (31 December 2015 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate16.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.2% (31 December 2015 est.)
4.35% (31 December 2016 est.)
4.35% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$8.135 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.231 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$15.37 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$14.47 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$1.161 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.132 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.015 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$6.175 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$7.782 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.196 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$22.35 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$21.44 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Taxes and other revenues20.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-6.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
-3% of GDP (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 62.6%
government consumption: 14.1%
investment in fixed capital: 33.1%
investment in inventories: 1%
exports of goods and services: 47.2%
imports of goods and services: -58% (2016 est.)
household consumption: 37.1%
government consumption: 14%
investment in fixed capital: 43.7%
investment in inventories: 1.6%
exports of goods and services: 22%
imports of goods and services: 18.5% (2015 est.)
Gross national saving25% of GDP (2016 est.)
20% of GDP (2015 est.)
25.8% of GDP (2014 est.)
46% of GDP (2016 est.)
47.9% of GDP (2015 est.)
49.7% of GDP (2014 est.)

Energy

LaosChina
Electricity - production16 billion kWh (2014 est.)
6.142 trillion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption3.9 billion kWh (2014 est.)
5.92 trillion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports13 billion kWh (2014 est.)
18.91 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports1.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)
6.185 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
3.983 million bbl/day (2016 est.)
Oil - imports0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
7.599 million bbl/day (2016 est.)
Oil - exports0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
58,650 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Oil - proved reserves0 bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
25 billion bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)
6 billion cu m (31 December 2016 )
Natural gas - production0 cu m (2013 est.)
150 billion cu m (2016 est.)
Natural gas - consumption0 cu m (2013 est.)
224 billion cu m (2016 est.)
Natural gas - exports0 cu m (2013 est.)
3.918 billion cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - imports0 cu m (2013 est.)
75.1 billion cu m (2016 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity3.4 million kW (2014 est.)
1.646 billion kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels1.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
64% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants98.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
20.2% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
2% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
13.7% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
10.35 million bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption3,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)
11.12 million bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
593,400 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports3,480 bbl/day (2013 est.)
600,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy500,000 Mt (2013 est.)
9.135 billion Mt (2014 est.)
Electricity accesspopulation without electricity: 900,000
electrification - total population: 87%
electrification - urban areas: 97%
electrification - rural areas: 82% (2013)
population without electricity: 1,200,000
electrification - total population: 99.9%
electrification - urban areas: 100%
electrification - rural areas: 99.8% (2016)

Telecommunications

LaosChina
Telephones - main lines in usetotal subscriptions: 962,497
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (July 2015 est.)
total subscriptions: 230.996 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (July 2015 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellulartotal: 3.727 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 54 (July 2015 est.)
total: 1,305.738 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 95 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: service to public is generally improving; the government relies on a radiotelephone network to communicate with remote areas
domestic: mobile cellular network coverage including 3G is relatively widespread, although usage has slowed as the regulator imposed a strict policy on pricing and competition is effectively discouraged; network performance has suffered because of insufficient maintenance and upgrades
international: country code - 856; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) and a second to be developed by China (2017)
general assessment: domestic and international services are available for private use; unevenly distributed domestic system serves principal cities, industrial centers, and many towns; China continues to develop its telecommunications infrastructure; China in the summer of 2008 began a major restructuring of its telecommunications industry, resulting in the consolidation of its 6 telecom service operators to 3, China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom, each providing both fixed-line and mobile services
domestic: interprovincial fiber-optic trunk lines and cellular telephone systems have been installed; mobile-cellular subscribership is increasing rapidly; the number of Internet users now over 50% of the population; a domestic satellite system with several earth stations is in place
international: country code - 86; a number of submarine cables provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US; satellite earth stations - 7 (5 Intelsat - 4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean; 1 Intersputnik - Indian Ocean region; and 1 Inmarsat - Pacific and Indian Ocean regions) (2012)
Internet country code.la
.cn
Internet userstotal: 1.258 million
percent of population: 18.2% (July 2015 est.)
total: 687.845 million
percent of population: 50.3% (July 2015 est.)
Broadcast media6 TV stations operating out of Vientiane - 3 government-operated and the others commercial; 17 provincial stations operating with nearly all programming relayed via satellite from the government-operated stations in Vientiane; Chinese and Vietnamese programming relayed via satellite from Lao National TV; broadcasts available from stations in Thailand and Vietnam in border areas; multi-channel satellite and cable TV systems provide access to a wide range of foreign stations; state-controlled radio with state-operated Lao National Radio (LNR) broadcasting on 5 frequencies - 1 AM, 1 SW, and 3 FM; LNR's AM and FM programs are relayed via satellite constituting a large part of the programming schedules of the provincial radio stations; Thai radio broadcasts available in border areas and transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are also accessible (2012)
all broadcast media are owned by, or affiliated with, the Communist Party of China or a government agency; no privately owned TV or radio stations; state-run Chinese Central TV, provincial, and municipal stations offer more than 2,000 channels; the Central Propaganda Department lists subjects that are off limits to domestic broadcast media with the government maintaining authority to approve all programming; foreign-made TV programs must be approved prior to broadcast; increasingly, Chinese turn to online television to access Chinese and international films and television shows (2017)

Transportation

LaosChina
Roadwaystotal: 39,586 km
paved: 5,415 km
unpaved: 34,171 km (2009)
total: 4,577,300 km
paved: 4,046,300 km (includes 123,500 km of expressways)
unpaved: 531,000 km (2015)
Waterways4,600 km (primarily on the Mekong River and its tributaries; 2,900 additional km are intermittently navigable by craft drawing less than 0.5 m) (2012)
110,000 km (navigable waterways) (2011)
Pipelinesrefined products 540 km (2013)
gas 70,000 km; crude oil 22,900 km; refined petroleum products 25,500 km; water 710,206 km (2015)
Airports41 (2013)
507 (2013)
Airports - with paved runwaystotal: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)
total: 463
over 3,047 m: 71
2,438 to 3,047 m: 158
1,524 to 2,437 m: 123
914 to 1,523 m: 25
under 914 m: 86 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runwaystotal: 33
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 22 (2013)
total: 44
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 18 (2013)

Military

LaosChina
Military branchesLao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA, includes Riverine Force), Air Force (2011)
People's Liberation Army (PLA): Army, Navy (PLAN, includes marines and naval aviation), Air Force (Zhongguo Renmin Jiefangjun Kongjun, PLAAF, includes airborne forces), Rocket Force (strategic missile force), and Strategic Support Force (space and cyber forces); People's Armed Police (Renmin Wuzhuang Jingcha Budui, PAP); PLA Reserve Force (2016)
Military service age and obligation18 years of age for compulsory or voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18-months (2012)
18-24 years of age for selective compulsory military service, with a 2-year service obligation; no minimum age for voluntary service (all officers are volunteers); 18-19 years of age for women high school graduates who meet requirements for specific military jobs; a recent military decision allows women in combat roles; the first class of women warship commanders was in 2011 (2012)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP0.2% of GDP (2013)
0.22% of GDP (2012)
0.23% of GDP (2011)
1.3% of GDP (2017 est)
1.28% of GDP (2016)
1.95% of GDP (2015)
1.9% of GDP (2014)
1.85% of GDP (2013)

Transnational Issues

LaosChina
Disputes - internationalsoutheast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Thailand but disputes remain over islands in the Mekong River; Cambodia and Laos have a longstanding border demarcation dispute; concern among Mekong River Commission members that China's construction of eight dams on the Upper Mekong River and construction of more dams on its tributaries will affect water levels, sediment flows, and fisheries; Cambodia and Vietnam are concerned about Laos' extensive plans for upstream dam construction for the same reasons
continuing talks and confidence-building measures work toward reducing tensions over Kashmir that nonetheless remains militarized with portions under the de facto administration of China (Aksai Chin), India (Jammu and Kashmir), and Pakistan (Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas); India does not recognize Pakistan's ceding historic Kashmir lands to China in 1964; China and India continue their security and foreign policy dialogue started in 2005 related to the dispute over most of their rugged, militarized boundary, regional nuclear proliferation, and other matters; China claims most of India's Arunachal Pradesh to the base of the Himalayas; lacking any treaty describing the boundary, Bhutan and China continue negotiations to establish a common boundary alignment to resolve territorial disputes arising from substantial cartographic discrepancies, the largest of which lie in Bhutan's northwest and along the Chumbi salient; Burmese forces attempting to dig in to the largely autonomous Shan State to rout local militias tied to the drug trade, prompts local residents to periodically flee into neighboring Yunnan Province in China; Chinese maps show an international boundary symbol off the coasts of the littoral states of the South China Seas, where China has interrupted Vietnamese hydrocarbon exploration; China asserts sovereignty over Scarborough Reef along with the Philippines and Taiwan, and over the Spratly Islands together with Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Brunei; the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea eased tensions in the Spratlys but is not the legally binding code of conduct sought by some parties; Vietnam and China continue to expand construction of facilities in the Spratlys and in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord on marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands;
China occupies some of the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands are also claimed by China and Taiwan; certain islands in the Yalu and Tumen Rivers are in dispute with North Korea; North Korea and China seek to stem illegal migration to China by North Koreans, fleeing privations and oppression, by building a fence along portions of the border and imprisoning North Koreans deported by China; China and Russia have demarcated the once disputed islands at the Amur and Ussuri confluence and in the Argun River in accordance with their 2004 Agreement; China and Tajikistan have begun demarcating the revised boundary agreed to in the delimitation of 2002; the decade-long demarcation of the China-Vietnam land boundary was completed in 2009; citing environmental, cultural, and social concerns, China has reconsidered construction of 13 dams on the Salween River, but energy-starved Burma, with backing from Thailand, remains intent on building five hydro-electric dams downstream despite regional and international protests
Chinese and Hong Kong authorities met in March 2008 to resolve ownership and use of lands recovered in Shenzhen River channelization, including 96-hectare Lok Ma Chau Loop
Illicit drugsestimated opium poppy cultivation in 2008 was 1,900 hectares, about a 73% increase from 2007; estimated potential opium production in 2008 more than tripled to 17 metric tons; unsubstantiated reports of domestic methamphetamine production; growing domestic methamphetamine problem (2009)
major transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Asia; growing domestic consumption of synthetic drugs, and heroin from Southeast and Southwest Asia; source country for methamphetamine and heroin chemical precursors, despite new regulations on its large chemical industry; more people believed to be convicted and executed for drug offences than anywhere else in the world, according to NGOs (2008)
Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Laos is a source and, to a lesser extent, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Lao economic migrants may encounter conditions of forced labor or sexual exploitation in destination countries, most often Thailand; Lao women and girls are exploited in Thailand’s commercial sex trade, domestic service, factories, and agriculture; a small, possibly growing, number of Lao women and girls are sold as brides in China and South Korea and subsequently sex trafficked; Lao men and boys are victims of forced labor in the Thai fishing, construction, and agriculture industries; some Lao children, as well as Vietnamese and Chinese women and girls, are subjected to sex trafficking in Laos; other Vietnamese and Chinese, and possibly Burmese, adults and girls transit Laos for sexual and labor exploitation in neighboring countries, particularly Thailand
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Laos does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; authorities sustained moderate efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders; the government failed to make progress in proactively identifying victims exploited within the country or among those deported from abroad; the government continues to rely almost entirely on local and international organizations to provide and fund services to trafficking victims; although Lao men and boys are trafficked, most protective services are only available to women and girls, and long-term support is lacking; modest prevention efforts include the promotion of anti-trafficking awareness on state-controlled media (2015)
current situation: China is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; Chinese adults and children are forced into prostitution and various forms of forced labor, including begging and working in brick kilns, coal mines, and factories; women and children are recruited from rural areas and taken to urban centers for sexual exploitation, often lured by criminal syndicates or gangs with fraudulent job offers; state-sponsored forced labor, where detainees work for up to four years often with no remuneration, continues to be a serious concern; Chinese men, women, and children also may be subjected to conditions of sex trafficking and forced labor worldwide, particularly in overseas Chinese communities; women and children are trafficked to China from neighboring countries, as well as Africa and the Americas, for forced labor and prostitution
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - China does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; official data for 2014 states that 194 alleged traffickers were arrested and at least 35 were convicted, but the government’s conflation of human trafficking with other crimes makes it difficult to assess law enforcement efforts to investigate and to prosecute trafficking offenses according to international law; despite reports of complicity, no government officials were investigated, prosecuted, or convicted for their roles in trafficking offenses; authorities did not adequately protect victims and did not provide the data needed to ascertain the number of victims identified or assisted or the services provided; the National People’s Congress ratified a decision to abolish “reform through labor” in 2013, but some continued to operate as state-sponsored drug detention or “custody and education” centers that force inmates to perform manual labor; some North Korean refugees continued to be forcibly repatriated as illegal economic migrants, despite reports that some were trafficking victims (2015)

Source: CIA Factbook