Xi, Thongloun attend China-Laos Railway opening ceremony

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BEIJING, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, attended the opening ceremony of the China-Laos Railway with Thongloun Sisoulith, general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and Lao president via video link Friday.

On behalf of the CPC, the Chinese government and the Chinese people, Xi extended congratulations on the opening of the China-Laos Railway and hailed the builders of the two countries.

"In 2015, I, together with Lao leaders, made a major decision to jointly build the China-Laos Railway," Xi said.

In the five years since the start of construction, China and Laos have made concerted efforts and cooperated closely, and completed construction tasks at a high level and with high quality, a practical action that demonstrates the spirit of the China-Laos community of shared future, and the special advantages of the two countries' socialist system in concentrating resources to accomplish large undertakings.

Calling China-Laos Railway a flagship project of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries, Xi said with the railway, the mountain from Kunming to Vientiane is no longer high and the road no longer long.

Xi called on both sides to make persistent efforts, maintain and operate the railway well, develop and construct well the areas along the line, and create a golden line for the benefit of the people of both countries.

Xi said the China-Laos Railway is a landmark project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. In recent years, with the goals of high standard, sustainability and improvement of people's livelihood, China has continuously improved the level of Belt and Road cooperation, achieved mutual benefits and win-win results for participating countries, and opened up new space for the development of the world economy.

"China is willing to work with Laos and other countries along the route to speed up the building of a closer Belt and Road partnership and a community with a shared future for mankind," said Xi.

"A few days ago, I received a joint letter from several Lao students who once majored in railway in China's Shanghai. They said they would contribute what they had learned in China to the operation and development of the China-Laos Railway, and I am very happy about this," said the Chinese president.

The future of China-Laos friendship lies in the youth, and interconnection is rooted in people-to-people communication, Xi said. "China is willing to cultivate more talent for the road of China-Laos friendship."

"Today is a proud moment and the dream of all ethnic groups of Laos has finally come true," Thongloun said, expressing gratitude to China for its support. Laos has finally bidden farewell to the days without trains and possessed a modern railway.

Calling the railway a bond docking the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with Laos' development strategy to convert itself from a land-locked country to a land-linked country, and an important milestone in Laos' modern infrastructure construction, Thongloun said the railway will greatly promote Laos' national economic and social development.

Thanks to the efforts of the two countries' leaders and support from all parties, the two sides have overcome many challenges and difficulties such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and successfully completed the project and put it into operation on time, he said.

This vividly demonstrates the spirit of "good neighbor, good friend, good comrade and good partner" and the community of shared future between Laos and China, he said.

Thongloun said the Lao side is willing to work with the Chinese side to maintain and operate the Laos-China Railway well, to bring more benefits to the people of the two countries and in the region, and contribute to promoting regional connectivity, development and prosperity.

The China-Laos Railway, with a total length of 1,035 km, connects Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province with the Lao capital, Vientiane.

It is the first overseas railway jointly constructed and operated by the two countries, adopting Chinese standards, and directly linking to China's railway network. Thanks to the railway, the travel time from Kunming to Vientiane will take about 10 hours. Enditem

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