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A Plus in China-Laos Railway
Xinhua News Agency
Vientiane, November 13, Xinhua News Agency, Ling Shuo and Zhang Jianhua, reporters of Xinhua News Agency)
‘I can’t help but feel excited every time I think of the Lao-China Railway in construction. It always reminds me of the lyrics in a Chinese Song - The Way to Pure Land: I see the railroad is extending to my hometown, like dragons over the mountains…’, said Sommat Pholsena, member to the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, ‘Lao-China Railway is a road of cooperation and industry and a road of century-long development generating many “+”.’
Witnessed jointly by Xi Jinping, President of China, and Boungnang, President of Laos, representatives from China and Laos signed cooperative documents on construction of economic corridor between China and Laos and construction of infrastructure. Ever since then, a China-Laos Railway of more than 400 kilometers in total has been granted a new meaning and mission. Steel rails and sleepers over the mountains and across the plains have been elevated to be a road of all-round cooperation, as a result of which the China-Laos Railway comes to a new stage of ‘China-Laos Railway+’.
For an inland country which has been suffering from outdated traffic infrastructure for a long term, this railway has become a driver and source of energy to drive trading business, industrial and technological innovation, cooperative and complementary capacity, balanced development in the regions and cultural exchange and mutual learning in Laos and even Indo-China Peninsula.
‘+’ in ‘China-Laos Railway+’ not only represents new products, new industries and new capacity emerged with the construction of this railway, but also a new opinion, new mode and new concept beyond just transportation. Moreover, it interprets a dream of linking together by a railway in all walks of life in Laos.
According to Souphanh Keomisay, Minister of Planning and Investment, the China-Laos Railway provides a down-to-earth new passage to a wide vision of Laotian development.
‘Three five-year plans were made at the 10th Congress of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party: Laos would have been exempted from poverty problem and released from the status of least developed by 2020; Laos would have become a middle-income developing country by 2025; and Laos would have become a high and middle-income developing country by 2030;’ Souphanh said when he was interviewed by the reporter from Xinhua News Agency, ‘The Belt and Road Initiative Xi Jinping put forward and the Laos-China Railway in construction provides a new idea and a new chance for realization of development plans of Laos.’
According to Bounchanh Kombounyasith, Deputy Director of Department of Planting, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos, China-Laos Railway is a quick passage to boost in all aspects the development of agricultural modernization in Laos. Bounchanh said he visited the growing areas in Laos and often worried about the contradictions between giant potential in production and outdated logistics and transportation. Construction of this Laos-China Railway is just breaking a bottleneck restricting agricultural development in Laos.
“Since groundbreaking of Lao-China railway, I have always had a dream of making agricultural cooperation the plus in ‘Lao-China railway +’.” Bounchanh said, “During President Xi’s stay in Laos, Ministry of Agriculture of China and its counterpart of Laos officially signed a memo of understanding on jointly building a Laos-China modern agricultural industry demonstrative park. A large-size eco-agricultural industry park is being jointly planned by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos with Chinese enterprises including Xuanye (Laos) Co., Ltd. and AVIC International Beijing Co., Ltd., which will integrate breeding and process of agricultural products with storage logistics, trading and display, and scientific research and training. The dream of agricultural modernization of Laos is being realized.”
Sommat thought the ‘+’ in China-Laos Railway means learning and cooperation in natural resource management and environmental protection. ‘The developers in China highly regard the environmental protection while they do construction work by taking technologically advanced and effective measures to dispose garbage and treat waste water. This is a soft power that China holds in addition to infrastructure construction.’
‘+’ has a wider and universally beneficial meaning for more people. It can turn Laos from a land-locked country to a land-linked country. It can promote the complementary advantages between regions, matched capacity and balanced development. It is a cultural road to get closer the hearts and people in different cultures.
ATHISAK who has sung the Belt and Road in Laotian language said that Laos-China Railway will open a road of culture. ‘More and more Chinese people come to Laos and more and more Laotians visit China, which will definitely allow cultural exchange one more step up. I want to visit China by train once the Railway is completed. It is not a kind of experience. Moreover, I will turn my feeling of such mutual link and connection into a song for more people to listen to.’
‘President Xi said that we have to make people have a sense of gain.’ Sommat said, ‘I think this sense of gain refers to the ultimate target of Laos-China Railway +, which makes people in both countries feel that this railway is not only a traffic facility between the two countries but also true benefits brought to the people in both countries.’