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Laos backs China-led BRI trade infrastructure expansion

President Bounnhang Vorachit has voiced the Lao government’s support for the China-led Belt and Road Initiative, saying the global project will help to transform Laos from being landlocked into a land link.
Speaking at a session of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing last weekend, the president said the Belt and Road Initiative, which China introduced in 2013, was in line with the Lao government’s policy to transform itself from being a landlocked country into a land link within the region.

“The Lao PDR views the Road and Belt Initiative as being compatible with the Lao government’s policy to transform the country from being a landlocked nation into a land bridge. Based on this conviction, Laos is actively engaged in the implementation of this initiative,” President Bounnhang told the meeting.
A total of 37 heads of state and government, the UN Secretary-General and representatives from international organisations attended the conference, where they reviewed the implementation of the initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a global project that aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond. Laos is one of the countries that lies on this strategic trading route.
One of the notable ways in which Laos is benefiting from this initiative is China’s support for the under-construction Laos-China railway, which runs from Lao-Chinese border to Vientiane. This railway is part of a rail link that will stretch from Kunming to Singapore.
President Bounnhang said the Belt and Road Initiative was compatible with the Lao government’s policy because the country was ploughing ahead with its renovation policy after opening its doors to the outside world in 1986. 
In recent decades, Laos has adjusted its policies so as to strengthen cooperation with the international community. As part of this opening-up policy, Laos has built infrastructure that is transforming the country from being landlocked into a land bridge, he added.
He also said the Lao government viewed the Belt and Road Initiative as being based on mutual benefit and cooperation, adding that in light of this development concept Laos believes the initiative will bring peace, stability and prosperity to the region.
Prior to attending the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, President Bounnhang led a high-level Lao delegation on a state visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping.
During the state visit, President Bounnhang met Prime Minister Li Keqiang and thanked the Chinese government for helping Laos to fulfil its socio-economic development plan.
He expressed the belief that under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, China would be able to achieve its ambition to build a socialist state with Chinese characteristics.
Prime Minister Li said China was pleased to continue its cooperation with Laos especially in projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative such as the Laos-China railway.
President Bounnhang also met the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Li Zhanshu.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update April 29, 2019)


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