A new big brother for Laos?

The Friendship Shield 2023 war games brought 200 Chinese troops and 700 Lao soldiers together for three weeks near the Lao capital Vientiane for joint military exercises. The drills between the two Communist states gave troops from impoverished, land-locked Laos firsthand experience using modern Chinese weapons, opening the way for the Southeast Asian country to replace its Soviet-era and Russian military supplies. Neighboring Vietnam, Laos’ biggest traditional ally, is believed to be watching the Sino-Lao relationship warily, while the U.S. is also concerned about China’s expanding military influence.