《经济学人》:一个中国-老挝边境经济特区如何走向衰落
日期:2011-05-30 11:11

(单词翻译:单击)

Busted flush
好景不再

How a Sino-Lao special economic zone hit the skids
一个中国——老挝边境经济特区如何走向衰落

May 26th 2011 | BOTEN, LAOS | from the print edition

AT HOME and abroad, China is a byword for fast-track development, where yesterday’s paddy field is tomorrow’s factory, highway or hotel. Less noticed is that such development can just as quickly go into reverse. Golden City, in Boten, just over the border from China in tiny Laos, is a case in point.

无论是在国内还是国外,中国都是超速发展的代名词。在那里,也许昨天还是一片稻田,而明天就发展成为工厂、高速公路或宾馆。然而很少有人会意识到,这种发展也可能会迅速走向萧条,位于中国老挝边境老挝一侧的磨丁黄金城经济特区就是这样。

When a Hong Kong-registered company signed a 30-year, renewable lease with the Lao government in 2003 to set up a 1,640-hectare special economic zone built with mainland money and expertise, Golden City was touted as a futuristic hub for trade and tourism. The builders promptly went to work, and a cluster of pastel blocks rose amid the green hills of northern Laos. Thousands of Chinese tourists and entrepreneurs poured into the enclave, drawn largely by the forbidden pleasures and profits of gambling, which is illegal in China, except in Macau. Today the main casino, inside a three-star hotel, lies abandoned, its baize tables thick with dust.

2003年,一家香港注册的公司同老挝政府签订了一份30年可续期的合约。合约规定利用中国大陆的资金和技术建立一个1640公顷的黄金城经济特区,并致力于把那里打造成一个未来的旅游商贸中心。建设者们立刻开始行动,许多漂亮的社区出现在老挝的崇山峻岭之间。除了澳门外,赌博业在中国是违法的,然而出于赌博所带来的快感和暴利的诱惑,成千上万的中国人开始涌入这块飞地——黄金城经济特区。现在特区最大的拥有一座三星级宾馆的赌场已经关张,赌桌上落了厚厚的灰尘。

The trouble started in December, when Chinese gamblers found that the operators refused to let them leave until they had coughed up for betting losses. Officials from Hubei province apparently negotiated the release of several “hostages”, but many more continued to be held against their will. Accounts in the Chinese media say that casino recruiters lured gamblers with offers of free travel and hotel rooms, only to be kept captive and beaten when their credit ran out. Lao villagers swap grisly tales of corpses dumped in the river.

去年12月开始出现麻烦。中国的赌客发现如果不能还清欠赌债,就别想离开赌场。尽管河北省政府已经解救了一些“人质”,但仍有很多人被继续扣押。据中国媒体报道,这些赌场的外联人通过免费机票和住宿引诱赌客,当他们输光所有的筹码后,就会被拘禁和毒打。老挝村民中一直流传着尸体被丢到河里的恐怖故事。

Chinese authorities have since put the boot into Boten. In March the foreign ministry warned citizens not to gamble in Laos and accused Golden City of cheating its cross-border customers. It said it had demanded that Laos close down the casino. Last month the casino duly shut, and the smaller gaming halls have since gone too. The 232-room hotel, which is almost empty, will be next.

中国政府已经开始关注磨丁问题。3月份,外交部警告中国公民不要去老挝赌博,谴责黄金城欺诈中国跨境消费者,同时提请老挝政府关闭赌场。上个月,赌场适时地关闭了,一些小的游戏厅也消失了,接下来轮到一个有232个房间的边关,那里现在已经空无一人。

Most shop and restaurant owners have packed up and left, as have the Thai transvestite show and the legions of prostitutes. Stricter visa rules for Chinese tourists have added to the squeeze. A Lao policeman, who admits to having nothing to do, puts the town’s dwindling population at 2,000, down from 10,000 at its peak. The enclave’s economy seems to have collapsed just as the builders hit their stride with a new high-rise hotel and a shopping centre bristling with columns in the classical style.

很多商店餐馆的老板,甚至是人妖表演团和妓女都离开了这里,中国更加严格的签证管理更是雪上加霜。一个老挝警察说,他们什么都没做,但这里的流动人口还是从高峰时期的10000减少到了现在的2000。建设者原本想再新建一个高层的宾馆和一座有很多古典风格廊柱的购物中心,正当他们准备大干一场的时候,这块飞地的经济似乎突然要崩溃了。

Golden City says it has pumped $130m into the project’s first phase, including funds from outside investors. A company official, Ginger He, puts a brave face on things, arguing that the slump is a chance to rebrand the enclave as a wholesome tourist destination and import-export zone. She blames the bad publicity on shady Chinese concessionaires who ran the card games in the casino—as if the company had expected angels. Golden City has since declared force majeure to revoke its contracts. Investors might wish to sue under Lao law. But Miss He points out that China had ordered Laos to close the casino. “Little brother cannot fight with big brother,” she says

黄金城方面表示公司在该项目一期共投入130万美元,其中包括部分外部融资。一位公司负责人Ginger He对这次突变似乎很不以为然,并表示这是一次很好的机会,特区可以借此步入正轨,并重新将自己打造为一个旅游目的地和进出口贸易集散地。她把外界的负面报道都归罪于那些在赌场里代理经营纸牌项目的丑恶中国人——似乎公司原本一直认为他们是守法良民。黄金城宣布因为不可抗力解除合约,投资者准备依据老挝法律进行起诉,不过He小姐说,中国政府已经要求老挝关闭赌场,胳膊拧不过大腿啊。

At the best of times, cross-border casinos are risky investments, since China often cracks down on outbound gamblers. Warlords in Myanmar have previously felt the consequences, with gambling dens left to rot in the jungle after borders grew tighter. Business folk in Boten say the action may have moved to casinos elsewhere in Laos and Myanmar. A Macau-based company has recently completed a giant riverside casino in the so-called Golden Triangle, where Laos meets Thailand and Myanmar.

即便是在情况最好的时候,境外开设赌场也是高风险的投资,因为中国政府经常会打击出境的赌徒。缅甸军政府就尝过这样的苦果,随着中国边境吃紧,那里的赌场就在丛林里荒废了。磨丁的生意人说,现在的打击行动可能会使赌场转移到老挝或者缅甸的其他地方。一个总部在澳门的公司刚刚在老挝泰国和缅甸交界处建成了一座规模宏大的河景赌场——金三角。

But Golden City was supposed to represent more than just a fast buck. The developers persuaded Laos of the benefits of allowing a Chinese-run enclave. Its residents, they said, would “form a huge community and a modern society”, in the words of their brochure. The zone also took on some of the trappings of the Chinese state, including uniformed security guards, development slogans and even the Chinese currency. This gave the false impression that it enjoyed official backing. Instead, it became an irritant that Beijing had to put in its place.

但是黄金城并非只做一些投机的生意,开发商还向老挝政府许诺了许多建设一块中国人管理的飞地的好处,在他们的宣传册上,他们扬言要把当地建成一个庞大的社区和现代化的社会。他们还在开发区里应用了很多中国元素,例如保安的服装、开发的口号甚至使用中国货币。这些都给人们一种假象,他们背后有中国官方背景。这些也刺激了北京尽快平息这里的混乱。

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重点单词
  • squeezev. 压榨,挤压,塞进 n. 压榨,勒索,榨取
  • striden. 步伐,一大步,大步走,进步 vt. 跨骑,跨 vi
  • destinationn. 目的地,终点,景点
  • illegaladj. 不合法的,非法的 n. 非法移民
  • exceptvt. 除,除外 prep. & conj. 除了 ..
  • wholesomeadj. 有益健康的,合乎卫生的,健全的
  • rotn. 腐烂,腐蚀,败坏 v. 腐烂,使 ... 枯朽,衰
  • buckn. (美元)块钱 n. 钱,鹿皮,(鹿皮等)制物,小伙
  • forbiddenadj. 被禁止的
  • creditn. 信用,荣誉,贷款,学分,赞扬,赊欠,贷方 (复)c