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Laos, China move forward with cooperation projects

The governments of Laos and China are set to approve cooperation projects to be financed with Chinese assistance, the Lao Prime Minister’s Office has announced.
The announcement was made after Chinese Deputy Minister of Commerce Ms Gao Yan called on Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone on May 12 during her working visit to Laos.
A three-year grant of 4 billion yuan (5,011 billion kip) to finance various projects was pledged during a state visit to Laos by Chinese President Xi Jinping in November last year.
Ms Gao was in Laos to attend the ninth meeting of the Laos-China Joint Committee on Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation.
A source representing Laos on the committee said the Lao government yesterday (May 15) approved projects for which funding requests would be made to Beijing.
“The proposed projects will be submitted to the Chinese side for consideration,” the source said.
Chinese Ambassador to Laos Wang Wentian told Vientiane Times previously that the Chinese grant would be used to deliver clean water to 100 villages as well as extending the electricity grid so that 100 more villages could access power.
Dispensaries in 100 rural villages will be built. The grant will also fund 20 distance-learning projects and training for 3,000 teachers working in rural areas, among other projects.
During the talks, Mr Sonexay and Ms Gao noted that the rebuilding and modernisation of Mahosot Hospital, also funded by a Chinese grant, would begin soon. A ground-breaking ceremony for the new hospital took place in November last year attended by President Xi and President Bounnhang Vorachit.
Modernising the hospital – one of the three main hospitals in Vientiane – will cost more than 751.6 billion kip (more than 600 million yuan). Construction is slated for completion in 2020.
So far, the Chinese government has approved financing for 73 cooperation projects, of which 60 projects have been implemented, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a press release.
Mr Sonexay and Ms Gao also made mention of infrastructure projects that have been funded by Chinese loans.
These include the national power grid project and construction of a road network to link Laos with other countries in the region.
At the ninth meeting of the Laos-China Joint Committee held in Vientiane on Friday, which Ms Gao and Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce Mrs Khemmani Pholsena co-chaired, both sides agreed to enhance their economic, trade and technical cooperation, especially in mega projects.
Two-way trade between Laos and China reached US$3 billion in 2017, an increase of 28.6 percent on the year before. The two sides agreed to strive for greater bilateral trade, with China to increase imports from Laos.
The joint committee noted the continuing increase of Chinese investment in Laos, with China now being the largest investor in the country.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update
May 16,

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