Re-thinking of “Chintanakan Mai” (New Thinking): Perspective for Understanding Lao PDR

Discussion Papers


by YAMADA Norihiko

March 2013


To date, many previous studies have viewed “Chintanakan Mai” (New Thinking), which was introduced in 1986, as one of the most important factors required for understanding present-day Laos. They tend to see the year 1986 as a watershed in Lao history and divide the history after 1975 into two periods before and after 1986: a period of socialism and a period of reform or market economy, respectively. Therefore, they are likely to see the current changes in Laos as the result or achievement of the reform started in 1986. The year 1986 is always a starting point for understanding Laos today. However, I suggest a different perspective and attempt to re-examine “Chintanakan Mai.” “Chintanakan Mai” is not a watershed in Lao history, but rather a temporary slogan to advance postwar reconstruction. In this paper, I try to establish a new perspective for understanding Laos today.

Keywords: Chintanakan Mai, New Thinking, Lao PDR, Laos, Socialism, Transition
JEL classification: P20, P21, P30

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