China and Laos to push rail, economic projects
Premier Li says 2 sides should link strategies for development and boost cooperation
China is willing to make joint efforts with Laos to push forward major cooperative projects in areas including railways and economic development zones, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday.
Li met with Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in Beijing, and the two leaders witnessed the signing of two cooperative documents between the two countries covering border trade and joint development of an economic cooperation zone.
The two countries should enhance cooperation in areas including production capacity, investment, agriculture, finance and national defense, Li said, adding that China would like to connect the country’s development strategy with that of Laos.
China hopes that Laos will make continuous efforts for the healthy and steady development of ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Laos is a member, Li said.
The railway project linking Laos with China is of great importance to Laos, and the Laotian government will push for implementing the project, Thongloun said.
“We have now met three times since I assumed office seven months ago,” Thongloun told Li. The two leaders held talks for the first time in July during the Eurasia leaders’ meeting in Mongolia. They also met in September during Li’s official visit to Laos.
Liu Zhenmin, vice-foreign minister, said that during the meeting, Li and Thongloun exchanged views on areas including agricultural trade, finance and production capacity cooperation.
China agreed to help Laos improve the country’s infrastructure to boost interconnection, Liu told reporters after the signing ceremony.
This is Thongloun’s first visit to China since taking office in April. He made an official visit to China in August 2011 when he was Laotian deputy prime minister and foreign minister. Thongloun will meet with President Xi Jinping on Thursday.
The four-day visit will also take Thongloun to central China’s Hunan province.
Beginning in the 1980s, many Hunan natives have gone to Laos to seek business opportunities. They started from scratch in the hardware industry and gradually became influential forces in such industries as motorcycles and motorcycle parts, supermarkets and mobile phone sales, according to Xinhua News Agency.
According to the Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office of the Chinese embassy in Laos, Chinese have invested in 764 projects in the country in industries including mineral products, agriculture, electricity, artifacts and tourism.
Among these projects, 552 are funded by Chinese companies, while 212 have investments from both countries. China has become Laos’ biggest source of foreign investment.
Song Yinghui, a researcher in Southeast Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said October is the end of Laos’ fiscal year. Choosing to visit China at the end of November shows that “Laos has high expectations of bilateral cooperation in the coming fiscal year”, Song said.
“As close neighbors, and since both are developing countries, Laos wants to learn China’s rich experience in reform and opening up and governing,” she added.
As close neighbors, and since both are developing countries, Laos wants to learn China’s rich experience.”
Song Yinghui, a researcher in Southeast Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations
Premier Li Keqiang meets with his Laotian counterpart, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. China and Laos signed two cooperative documents during the meeting.