Chinese company under fire in Laos over its giant $5 billion tourist Buddha statue’s design

Left: A model of the statue that a Chinese company plans to build in Vientiane. Right: The Pha That Luang stupa in Laos. (Photo courtesy: Reuters and Vientiane's Special Economic Zone Promotion and Management Office)

(, Nov09’21) – Anger was reported to be brewing in Laos over a multi-billion-dollar gigantic statue of the Buddha for the reason that the Chinese builder of it had designed it in a Mahayana Buddhist fashion, contrary to the Theravada school of Buddhism followed in the country, reported the Nov 8, citing multiple news reports.

“People disagree with this symbol of China and are expressing anger on Facebook,” a Laotian political observer was reported to have told Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei Asia on condition of anonymity.

“They are accusing the Chinese of stepping on Laotian Buddhism.”

The 100-metre tall statue of the Buddha costing USD 5 billion is being built by the Wang Feng Shanghai Real Estate Co close to the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) on the bank of river Mekong in Laos’s capital Vientiane.

The report said scores of people had expressed anger on social media, accusing the company of stepping on Laotian Buddhist sentiments by designing it in a Mahayana fashion contrary to the Theravada school of Buddhism followed in Laos, which depict Buddha sitting cross-legged.

The report noted that the statue will be the tallest structure in the low rise building area and its location was close to Phathut Luang, a gold plated Buddhist stupa standing as a symbol of Laotian sovereignty.

The report quoted Adisorn Semyaem, director of the Mekong Studies Center at the Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University, as saying, “It would be unacceptable that a large statue was built in the That Muang Marsh SEZ to attract tourism not far from Pha That Luang stupa, a symbol of Lao sovereignty.”

“Laos has a nationalistic [trait] not different from Cambodia or Thailand, which is evident in the style of Buddha statues — the construction of statues to be enshrined in the temples requires that the Lao style, also known as Lan Xang style, [is followed],” he has said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here