Railway to strengthen Laos-China economic ties

LAO PDR (Vientiane Times) - The trade, investment, and tourism cooperation between Laos and China is expected to get a major boost once the construction of the Laos-China railway is operational in 2021, a Lao government leader said last weekend.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng (right) meets with Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone during the 16th China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Expo in Nanning on September 20, 2019. --Photo Xinhua

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone made the remark while attending the 16th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, the capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on September 21. The Laos-China railway will serve as a key infrastructure for the economic corridor between the two countries and help boost trade, investment, and tourism, the Lao Deputy Prime Minister said as quoted in the Chinese News Agency of Xinhua on September 21.

The construction of the 414 km long line, which starts from the Laos-Chinese border to Vientiane is about 80 percent complete, making the development of the mega investment project on track to be completed and operational in 2021.

According to the Lao Deputy Prime Minister, the ground-breaking ceremony of the Laos-China railway was held on December 2015, and the construction of the whole route officially started a year later. He also said that China had invested a total of US$12.5 billion in 782 projects in Laos by the end of June this year since 1988, making it the biggest investor in Laos. Chinese investments in Laos are mainly focused on infrastructure projects like hydropower plants, highways, and power grids.

According to Xinhua, while in Nanning, Dr Sonexay and his Lao delegation held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Mr Han Zheng. At the meeting, Dr Sonexay said that Laos was willing to strengthen cooperation with China under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism and build a community of shared future with China.

Mr Han said China and Laos should deepen practical cooperation in various fields, consolidate the foundation of public support for bilateral ties, and work together to build a community of shared future with strategic significance.

The China-ASEAN Expo is an annual event designed to consolidate the friendly relationships between China and ASEAN. The event also drives forward cooperation in trade, economy, and other fields as well as people-to-people exchanges with its great political and diplomatic influence.