The way we were

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping on Mon­day con­cluded his visit to Viet­nam and flew to Vi­en­tiane for a state visit to Laos.

Xi on Mon­day met with Bounnhang Vo­ra­chit, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Lao Peo­ple’s Revo­lu­tion­ary Party (LPRP) Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and pres­i­dent of Laos. He is also sched­uled to meet Lao Prime Min­is­ter Thon­gloun Sisoulith, and Pres­i­dent of the Lao Na­tional Assem­bly Pany Yathotu.

In a speech he de­liv­ered upon his ar­rival at the air­port, Xi ex­tended sin­cere re­gards and best wishes to Laos, the Lao gov­ern­ment and the Lao peo­ple on be­half of the CPC, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and the Chi­nese peo­ple.

As Com­mu­nist-led so­cial­ist coun­tries, China and Laos are truly “good neigh­bors, friends, com­rades and part­ners,” Xi said.

Since the two coun­tries es­tab­lished diplo­matic ties 56 years ago, the tra­di­tional good neigh­borly and friendly re­la­tions have stood the test of in­ter­na­tional ups and downs, which have served to make them even stronger,

Xi said.

The in-depth de­vel­op­ment of bi­lat­eral com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship has not only brought tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits to the two coun­tries and peo­ples, but also con­trib­uted to the peace, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity in the re­gion and the world at large, he said.

“I be­lieve with the con­certed ef­forts of both sides, my visit will achieve our de­sired re­sults, lift our re­la­tion­ship to a new high and bring greater ben­e­fits to our two peo­ples,” he added.

Gu Xiaosong, an ex­pert on South­east Asian stud­ies at the Guangxi Academy of So­cial Sciences, told the Global Times on Mon­day that Xi’s visit to Laos shows China’s em­pha­sis on neigh­bor­hood diplo­macy and party-to-party ex­changes.

“Al­though Laos is not heav­ily popu- lated, it is lo­cated at the heart of the Indo-China Penin­sula. Many eco­nomic cor­ri­dors run through South­west China’s Yun­nan Prov­ince to Laos and then to Thai­land or Malaysia. This gives Laos a unique po­si­tion in China’s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive,” Gu told the Global Times.

Heart­felt wel­come

When he ar­rived, Xi was greeted by se­nior party and state lead­ers of Laos at the air­port.

Huge por­traits of Xi and Bounnhang, as well as ban­ners bear­ing wel­come slo­gans in the Chi­nese and Lao lan­guages were seen hang­ing on the main streets of the Lao cap­i­tal.

Thou­sands of lo­cal res­i­dents, in­clud­ing young stu­dents, lined up along the streets, wav­ing na­tional flags of the two coun­tries and cheer­ing as Xi’s mo­tor- cade passed by.

Yao Bin, chair­man of the Krit­taphong Group, who greeted Xi at his ho­tel, told the Global Times on Mon­day that the Chi­nese pres­i­dent cares very much about over­seas Chi­nese.

“He asked me how many years I have been liv­ing in Laos, about my life and whether I have a pros­per­ous busi­ness,” Yao said.

“We over­seas Chi­nese busi­ness peo­ple are grate­ful for the new op­por­tu­ni­ties brought by Pres­i­dent Xi, es­pe­cially the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive. A strong China also boosted our sta­tus in for­eign coun­tries,” Yao fur­ther noted.

Li Si­jun, who heads the Yun­nan State Farms Group’s Lao branch, told the Global Times on Mon­day that he ex­pects Xi’s visit to boost the con­struc­tion of the China-Laos Rail­way so that trans­porta­tion costs from Laos to South­west China’s Yun­nan Prov­ince can be sub­stan­tially re­duced.

The Yun­nan State Farms Group, based in Yun­nan, is a key player in rub­ber plan­ta­tion in Laos.

“Since the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive was launched, var­i­ous lev­els of the Lao gov­ern­ment be­gan to show in­ter­est in Chi­nese com­pa­nies. Laos is in ur­gent need of in­fra­struc­ture, such as high­ways and rail­roads, and this is ex­actly what China’s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive is de­signed for,” Li said.

Vi­en­tiane is the fi­nal leg of Xi’s first over­seas visit since the 19th Na­tional Congress of the CPC, which was held in Oc­to­ber.

Prior to the Laos visit, he at­tended the 25th Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Eco­nomic Lead­ers’ Meet­ing in Viet­nam’s cen­tral city of Da Nang and paid a state visit to the coun­try.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ar­rives in Laos for a state visit on Mon­day.

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