INDOCHINA: One-Upmanship

Scarcely a day goes by that Peking and Moscow do not trade insults from Marx's Dictionary of Dirty Names. Lately the focus of their dispute has shifted to Southeast Asia, where the two Communist superpowers are racing to see which can give more gifts and win more friends. Little Laos, indeed, seems about to sink under the weight of the gifts—and the givers.

In Vientiane, the administrative capital, Russian is now heard almost as much as French, the language of the country's colonial rulers for 60 years. Soviet advisers are often seen riding...

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