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Media executives and other officials link hands at the launch of media coverage on the achievements of the BRI in Laos over the past decade.


Laos’ BRI projects deliver tangible benefits, not a debt trap: diplomat, media chiefs agree

The Belt and Road Initiative has provided great opportunities, bringing tangible benefits to participating countries including Laos, and is not a debt trap, a diplomat and media executives have agreed.

Initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping 10 years ago, the initiative has boosted investment, trade, tourist arrivals, job creation and poverty reduction, they noted.
Addressing Lao and Chinese media and guests in Vientiane on Tuesday, President of the Lao Journalists’ Association Savankhone Razmountry said the Laos-China Railway, part of the BRI, is a remarkable example of the fruitful cooperation between Laos and China under the BRI.
Opening for service in 2021, the US$6 billion railway links the Lao capital Vientiane with Southwest China’s Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, over a distance of more than 1,000 kilometres.
“It has connected Laos with countries in the sub-region, the region and around the world,” he told the launch of media coverage to review achievements made under BRI cooperation between Laos and China over the past decade.
Enhanced connectivity has particularly spurred bilateral trade and visits between the peoples of Laos and China, and bolstered cooperation in such areas as economics, trade, investment, energy, industry, agriculture and tourism, Mr Savankhone added.    
An expressway being built to link Vientiane to the Chinese border, and the Laos-China economic corridor being developed along the railway are other significant features of the benefits delivered by the BRI. 
Arriving in Vientiane by the railway, Ma Xiao Ning, Director of the International News Department at the People’s Daily, China, said the leaders of the two countries had done their utmost to bring the modern railway to fruition. It has been put to good use in driving socio-economic development and easing people’s daily lives.
“It can be said that the Laos-China Railway is a symbolic project of Belt and Road Initiative cooperation,” she told the launch event.

Held at the Saysettha Development Zone in Vientiane, the event was jointly organised by the People’s Daily of China, the Paxason newspaper, and the Lao Journalists’ Association.  
Deputy Head of the Propaganda and Training Board of the Party Central Committee and Director General of the Paxason newspaper, Vanxay Tavinyarn, noted that the BRI has generated great opportunities and tangible benefits to the participating countries.
“It has strengthened relations and partnerships, and upheld the path of solidarity, cooperation, connectivity and joint development in the drive to build a community with a shared future for mankind,” he told the event. 
The high-speed railway and the expressway have transformed landlocked Laos into a land-link country, he added.
Director General of Lao Press in Foreign Languages, Thonglor Duangsavanh, said Laos-China cooperation under the BRI has expanded to areas such as trade, investment, energy, education, health, tourism and agriculture.  
He noted that BRI cooperation has generated real benefits for Laos and is ‘not a debt trap’ as falsely claimed by some critics.
By transforming Laos into a land link now, First Secretary at the Chinese Embassy to Laos Wei Yanxiong described the railway as a ‘golden line’, which closely connects the development of Laos and China. “This golden line will drive Lao industry, agriculture and tourism towards the Spring, bringing new hope for poverty reduction and economic growth in Laos,” the diplomat said.
Their comments echoed the view expressed by Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith, who said the Laos-China Railway is an ‘opportunity, not a debt trap’.

In an interview with Nikkei on the sidelines of the Future of Asia conference held in Japan recently, the Lao president said the railway sparks hope for economic development and will pave the way for a better future. He added that the debt trap theory is not the reality facing Laos.
Worldwide, 151 countries and 32 international entities are taking part in the BRI to date, according to official figures.
Over the past decade, the BRI has helped to spur the development of global businesses, with over 3,000 cooperative projects worth nearly one trillion US dollars.
These projects have created 420,000 jobs and lifted nearly 40 million people out of poverty, making the initiative a true path to development and prosperity.


By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
 (Latest Update June 8, 2023)


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