By Tai Beiping, Lin Hao
VIENTIANE, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The first Laos-China Belt and Road Cooperation Forum is being held here on Friday and Saturday, with delegates focusing their discussions on furthering the China-Laos cooperation that benefits both countries and contributes to the creation of a community of shared future.
China-Laos relations have enjoyed sound development, especially since the state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year, after which bilateral ties have witnessed leap-forward development, said Soukthavy Keola, a former counselor at the Lao Embassy in China.
During Xi's visit in November last year, the two countries issued a joint statement, agreeing that jointly building a community of shared future with strategic significance on the basis of mutual trust is in accordance with the fundamental interests and common expectations of both sides and is also conducive to peace and development for mankind.
Following that visit, the Lao government has adopted work plans to enhance China-Laos cooperation including plans to realize successful outcomes of the state visit to Laos by the Chinese president.
China and Laos, close neighbors with high complementarity in development, have been enjoying fruitful cooperation in a wide range of fields ranging from infrastructure, trade, financing, education and tourism among others.
The China-Laos railway, promoted by leaders of the two countries to enhance interconnectivity, is among one of the biggest cooperation projects. The 414-km railway, currently under construction, is linking Mohan-Boten border gate in northern Laos and the Lao capital Vientiane.
"I wish the China-Laos railway could be completed and put into use as soon as possible. At that time, I can send my son to China for education," said 28-year-old Houa Vang, who works as a driver at the railway construction project.
Houa Vang said he expects the railway to bring tangible benefits for his country, and he has introduced several people, including his wife, to work for the project.
The benefits of China-Laos cooperation are good for peoples of both sides. Lao exports such as fine quality agricultural products like rice, coffee and bananas, are warmly welcomed by the Chinese consumers, and Laos has proven to be a good place for operating business for Chinese companies.
Lao Asia Pacific Satellite Co., Ltd., a joint venture between China and Laos that provides satellite communications, satellite television broadcast and other services for Laos and neighboring countries, has found Laos a good platform for demonstrating their business.
Zheng Xuesong, assistant to station head of the joint venture, said the company's operation in Laos is a good example to be introduced to Southeast Asian countries. Through the successful example in Laos, countries like Cambodia and Myanmar have shown interest in cooperation with the Chinese side on satellite-related operations.
China-Laos cooperation, already fruitful in achievements, still has more potential to be tapped as the two sides have agreed to accelerate the synergy of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy of turning itself from a "land-locked" country to a "land-linked" one.
The Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, illustrates the philosophy and vision of a shared future for mankind. Proposed by China in 2013, the initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa via overland and maritime routes.
Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China and Laos will have much more to achieve in win-win cooperation. The two countries have agreed to jointly build a China-Laos economic corridor and further elevate the scale and level of their economic and trade cooperation.
Outside the forum's venue, people are anticipating more practical benefits that China-Laos cooperation can bring. Souksavath, a research fellow of Lao Academy of Social Science, has revealed how much benefits cooperation projects like the China-Laos railway will bring.
"It takes at least a day to transport farm produce to China, but when the railways opens, it will only take four hours," the research fellow said.
In the conference hall where over 500 delegates from government departments, enterprises and media sectors from both countries gather, a number of business cooperation intentions or agreements were signed, adding momentum to the already robust bilateral cooperation.
The two-day forum is jointly organized by the Commission for Propaganda and Training of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, China's Xinhua News Agency, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Lao Chinese Chamber of Commerce.