An outline of some of the outstanding characteristics of the Chinese as an urban ethnic group, and an assessment of their economic role in the Lao economy. Throughout the countries of Southeast Asia, the overseas Chinese play a crucial role and in many cases a dominant one in commerce, industry, and banking. Since in most cases they constitute a minority of the total population and simultaneously stress their Chinese cultural identity, they pose a critical political problem to the self-conscious national states in this area that have gained their indepencence from Britain, France, and Holland since the end of World War II.
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