President visits with longtime Laotian friends
President Xi Jinping, on a state visit to Laos, met on Tuesday with a Laotian family that he had come to know as a teenager when he went to school with some of them in Beijing.
Xi spoke with children and grandchildren of the late Quinim Pholsena, a revolutionary leader who was foreign minister of Laos from 1962 to 1963. Several of Pholsena’s children lived and studied at Bayi School in Beijing in the 1960s, when Xi also was a student there.
During their informal talk, Xi recalled that he had met his Laotian peers in sixth grade. He said he was impressed with how well they were dressed, with the boys in brown corduroy trousers and the girls often in elegant traditional dresses.
In a lighthearted moment, Xi said he remembered that Pholsena’s second son was nicknamed Chubby Boy.
Xi said that Pholsena had established revolutionary friendship with Chinese leaders of the time, including the late Chairman Mao Zedong, adding that China-Laos friendship has lasted for generations and become unbreakable.
China’s acceptance of the Laotian revolutionary family demonstrated that the older generation of leaders of both sides had the strategic and visionary idea of boosting bilateral friendship, Xi said.
In May 2014, China celebrated the 60th anniversary of its public diplomacy organization, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. To mark the event, Pholsena was chosen posthumously as one of the nine foreigners who represented friendly exchanges during the 60 years of the Chinese public diplomacy organization.
The president called on the people of both sides to stay true to their aspirations and make more contributions to building the community of a shared future of China and Laos.
Xi spoke of China’s ambitious plan to lift the country’s rural poor out of poverty by 2020, saying that it is critical for the Communist Party of China’s goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
Xi also recalled meeting with the family members in 2010, when he was on a visit to Laos as vice-president. He gave them a photo of his meeting with the Laotian family in 2010. Xi received, in turn, a collection of photos about Quinim Pholsena and his family members’ interaction with Chinese leaders.
Pholsena’s son Sommath Pholsena told Xi that his family felt deeply moved by Xi’s comments on the contributions of his father in promoting Laos-China relations.
Sommath Pholsena, who is Laos’ minister of natural resources and environment, became teary-eyed as he spoke to Xi. He said his family could feel Xi’s affection for them and they were moved that Xi mentioned them in a signed article published on Monday.
“The descendants of Quinim Pholsena studied for many years in China. They spent their youth in China, and became witnesses, supporters and new advocates of the China-Laos traditional friendship,” Xi said in the article published by Laotian media ahead of his state visit.
Sommath Pholsena told Xi that his family members will keep in mind Xi’s words of “staying true to our original aspiration and remember our mission” and make continuous efforts to boost Laos-China friendship.
The minister noted China’s remarkable achievements in the past five years and gave his congratulations on the success of the 19th National Congress of the CPC and Xi’s re-election as the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.
President Xi Jinping talks with the family of the late revolutionary leader Quinim Pholsena at Xi’s hotel in Vientiane, Laos, on Tuesday.