by Zhang Jianhua
VIENTIANE, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Laos actively supports the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China, Vice President of Laos-China Cooperation Committee Vichit Sindavong told Xinhua in a recent interview, adding that Lao leaders highly appreciate the initiative.
"I think the Belt and Road Initiative is innovative. The scope of cooperation along the Belt and Road is wide. Interconnectivity and building a close and inseparable link are the importance of the initiative. As the major goals of the initiative, the policy coordination, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds will all bring back good development benefits for countries along the Belt and Road," he said.
"Laos always supports China's development policy, especially the Belt and Road Initiative. The two countries have recently set up blueprint for cooperation under the initiative and have been working together to achieve the goal," said Vichit, adding that Laos attaches great importance to the country's participation at the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation slated for mid-May in China's Beijing.
"Laos will benefit from the cooperation with China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. I think neighboring countries in the region will also support the initiative," he said.
The cooperation between Laos and China under the Belt and Road Initiative covers a wide range with the most prominent projects Laos-China railway and the launching of Laos' first satellite.
"These are the biggest results of bilateral cooperation. We are actively discussing cooperation in other fields, especially those under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is believed that the future cooperation projects will yield better results as cooperation area will be further expanded," he said.
Talking about China-Laos railway, Vichit said the project is of great significance to Laos. "This is the biggest cooperation project between Laos and China, which will help Laos realize the target of turning from land-locked to land-linked country," he said.
The China-Laos railway has a total length of 414.332 km with over 62.7 percent of bridges and tunnels, linking Mohan-Boten border gate in northern Laos and capital Vientiane. Operating speed on the route is designed at 160 km per hour. Construction of the project is scheduled for five years with investment of some 40 billion Chinese yuan (5.8 billion U.S. dollars), 70 percent of which comes from Chinese investment and the rest 30 percent from Lao side.
China-Laos railway is the first overseas route connecting with the railway system in China, using Chinese technology, equipment and investment.
"The project plays a great role in promoting Laos' national economic development, facilitating transportation, promoting the exports of Lao products to other neighboring countries, pushing forward the development of tourism sector, creating favorable conditions for trade exchanges between Laos and Asian countries, including China. The railway will benefit not only Laos, but also China and other neighboring countries," he emphasized.
"The railway will not only connect China's border area and Lao capital Vientiane, but also link to other regional countries, thus playing a significant role in the development of Lao economy."
"There is a saying in Chinese that 'If you want to get rich, build a road first,' but for Laos, it would be 'If you want to get rich, build railway first.' Therefore, Laos will actively support the Belt and Road Initiative," he said, expressing his wish for the success of the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held from May 14 to 15 in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this week. According to Wang, 28 heads of state and government leaders will attend the forum.