Dams, casinos and concessions

Chinese megaprojects in Laos and Cambodia

Chris Lyttleton, Pál Nyíri

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


These days in Southeast Asia, if you find that you are traveling faster than your Lonely Planet guide says you should be, it usually has something to do with China. Here, as in Africa, China has emerged as the new source of funding and execution of infrastructural megaprojects, dams, roads, railways, some in cooperation with global financial institutions, and others, which these are no longer willing to support, on its own. China says it is providing no-strings help, but Western aid donors have largely reacted to this position with suspicion or hostility, accusing China of engaging in a resource grab, fostering corruption, and disregarding the interests of the poor. China’s megaprojects have dramatic consequences for local populations, as like the great colonial railways, they set in motion all sorts of investors, traders and adventurers. In Laos and Cambodia, connected to China by historic migration links and new Chinese-built roads, a variety of meso- and miniprojects thrive on the tailwinds of the megaprojects. In both countries, China has become one of the largest sources of investment and aid. Focusing on a dam in Cambodia and two real estate/casino projects in Laos, this chapter asks how the emerging Chinese “concessions,” viz., areas designated for Chinese-funded investment and/or development aid projects and run by Chinese management, are transforming livelihoods and forms of governance. We thus look not so much at ways in which the physical environments is engineered, but at how orchestrated land management under the guise of international development inevitably implies forms of social engineering that structure emerging social and economic relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEngineering Earth
Subtitle of host publicationthe Impacts of Megaengineering Projects
EditorsStanley D. Brunn
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789048199204
ISBN (Print)9789048199198
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Dams, casinos and concessions: Chinese megaprojects in Laos and Cambodia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Lyttleton, C., & Nyíri, P. (2011). Dams, casinos and concessions: Chinese megaprojects in Laos and Cambodia. In S. D. Brunn (Ed.), Engineering Earth: the Impacts of Megaengineering Projects (Vol. 2, pp. 1243-1265). London ; New York: Springer, Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9920-4_69