China to boost ties with Laos, ASEAN mem­bers

CHINA DAILY USA

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By LI XIAOKUN lix­i­aokun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China ex­pects to work with ASEAN coun­tries to pro­mote a good re­la­tion­ship and send a sig­nal of peace and sta­bil­ity to the world, Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang said onWed­nes­day.

Li made the re­mark when meet­ing with Lao­tian Pres­i­dent BounnhangVo­ra­chith.

“China is will­ing to work with Laos and ASEAN coun­tries ... to main­tain and pro­mote China-ASEAN re­la­tions and the good at­mos­phere of East Asian co­op­er­a­tion, and to send a sig­nal of peace and sta­bil­ity to the world,” Li told the newLao­tian pres­i­dent.

He also said­hewill visit Vi­en­tiane, the Lao­tian cap­i­tal, later this year for a se­ries of lead­ers’ meet­ings on EastAsian co­op­er­a­tion, as well as a sum­mit mark­ing the 25th an­niver­sary of di­a­logue re­la­tions between China andASEAN.

Laos holds the ro­tat­ing pres­i­den­cyof the10-mem­berAs­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions this year, and Li said Bei­jing will fully sup­port Vi­en­tiane’s work dur­ing this term.

Bounnhang Vo­ra­chith’s visit comes 10 days af­ter Laos said it un­der­stands China’s stance on the South China Sea is­sue.

Dur­ing a visit to Laos by For­eignMin­is­terWang Yi on April 23, Bei­jing and Vi­en­tiane reached CANADA con­sen­sus that dis­putes over some of the Nan­sha Is­lands and reefs are not an is­sue between China and ASEAN, and should not af­fect the de­vel­op­ment of these re­la­tions.

A rul­ing by an in­ter­na­tional ar­bi­tra­tion body in a process launched uni­lat­er­ally by the Philip­pines chal­leng­ing China’s ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty in the South China Sea is ex­pected within weeks.

China has said re­peat­edly it will nei­ther ac­cept nor take part in the process.

Bounnhang Vo­ra­chith, who was elected pres­i­dent two weeks ago, said the new lead­er­ship of the Lao­tian Party and gov­ern­ment highly val­ues its ties with­China.

Li en­cour­aged the two neigh­bors to push for­ward co­op­er­a­tion projects, which he said are led by ma­jor ones such as the China-Laos rail­way.

The rail line, on which con­struc­tion started late last year, will linkKun­ming, the­cap­i­tal of Yunnan prov­ince, to Vi­en­tiane.

“There are hardly any rail­ways in Laos ... so you can imag­ine the im­por­tance of the rail­way to the na­tion,” said Wang Yuzhu, a re­searcher of South­east Asia at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sci­ences.

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