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Laos: Information on the treatment of ethnic Chinese (1990 to present)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 February 1993
Citation / Document Symbol LAO13110
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Laos: Information on the treatment of ethnic Chinese (1990 to present), 1 February 1993, LAO13110, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac5d7c.html [accessed 30 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

There are reportedly at least sixty-eight ethnic groups in Laos (New Yorker 20 Aug. 1990, 51). A recent Minority Rights Group (MRG) report estimates that there are currently about 8,000 ethnic Chinese in the country, about half of whom live in the capital city, Vientiane (Nov. 1992, 31). The Encyclopaedia of the Third World notes that a number of groups of Chinese origin live in northern Laos (1992, 1069). The article states further that at one time, Chinese constituted two percent of the population, but the current status and numbers of this community, and other foreign communities, are not clear (Ibid.). According to an article in Asian Survey,

Chinese, Vietnamese and South Asians emigrated to Laos during the present century, engaging mainly in commerce, colonial administration, and trade. Today, they remain urban residents where they are few in number and without disproportionate economic or political influence.... (Oct. 1991, 920).

 Little information specific to the treatment of ethnic Chinese in Laos is currently available to the DIRB. The attached MRG report states that although ethnic Chinese who remained in Laos after 1975, when the Communists gained exclusive power, must have been in a difficult situation, since the late 1980s, "a general liberalization of economic policies has taken place which has certainly benefited the remaining ethnic Chinese engaged in business" (Nov. 1992, 31). The report states further that "more normal living conditions have been restored for the Chinese in Laos" (Ibid.). The Encyclopaedia of the Third World, however, states that "the Pathet Lao have been particularly hostile to minorities such as the Hmong (Meo), the Chinese and the lowland Lao groups, using coercion to destroy their separate identities" (1992, 1072). An excerpt from this article is attached.

The above-mentioned article from Asian Survey provides no information specific to the treatment of ethnic Chinese in Laos. However, according to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1990, available at Regional Documentation Centres,

local ethnic Chinese encountered government suspicion and surveillance after 1979, when Sino-Lao relations deteriorated seriously. This has abated, however, since relations between Laos and China improved greatly in 1988.... Those Chinese who remain have maintained government-approved Chinese schools in Vientiane and Savannakhet as well as Chinese associations in several provincial capitals (1991, 950).

Country Reports for 1991 does not mention the Chinese minority specifically, but states that "the new Constitution specifically provides for equal rights for all minorities, and there is no legal discrimination against them" (1992, 913). The report also indicates that ethnic minorities occupy many important government positions without specifying which minorities occupy such positions. In addition, the document states in another section that "it remains to be seen to what extent the human rights and political reforms [the Constitution] promises will be realized in practice" (Ibid., 907).

 Further information specific to this topic is not currently available to the DIRB but general information on the human rights situation in Laos may be available on request.

References

Asian Survey. October 1991. Vol. 31, No. 10. Carol J. Ireson and W. Randall Ireson. "Ethnicity and Development in Laos."

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1991. 1992. U.S. Department of State. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1990. 1991. U.S. Department of State. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.

The Encyclopaedia of the Third World. 4th ed. Vol. 2. George Thomas Kurian, ed. "Laos."

Minority Rights Group International Report. November 1992. Ramses Amer. "Laos." The Chinese of South East Asia. London: Minority Rights Group.

The New Yorker. 20 August 1990. "Reporter at Large: Forgotten Country."

Attachments

The Encyclopaedia of the Third World. 4th ed. Vol. 2. George Thomas Kurian, ed. "Laos," pp. 1069, 1071, 1072.

Minority Rights Group International Report. November 1992. Ramses Amer. "Laos." The Chinese of South East Asia. London: Minority Rights Group, p. 31.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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