President Xi Jinping met with Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith via video link on Friday to witness together the opening of the China-Laos Railway.
Connecting Lao capital Vientiane with Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, the China-Laos Railway spans more than 1,000 kilometers and will promote cooperation and exchanges of materials and people between the two countries.
Xi has paid a lot of attention to this railway project.
In November 2017 during Xi's visit to Laos, representatives of the two countries signed cooperation documents on the development of the China-Laos Economic Corridor and related infrastructure. The China-Laos Railway has become a hallmark project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Before the new railway was built, Laos had only a 3.5-kilometer stretch of railway linking the country with Thailand. Traffic bottlenecks have restricted Laos' economic development.
With the opening of the China-Laos Railway, the travel time between Lao capital Vientiane and the China-Laos border has been shortened to three hours from 2 days, and to 10 hours between Vientiane and Kunming.
The railway is helping transform Laos from a landlocked to a land-linked country. Since 2016, more than 5,000 people in Laos have participated in the construction of the railway. A lot of young Lao people left their mountain hometowns and learned advanced knowledge and technology due to this project.
Writing in reply to a letter from a Lao primary school in April 2019, Xi said he hoped the students and teachers could soon visit Beijing by train using the China-Laos Railway.
Strengthening bilateral cooperation and carrying out more cooperation projects can promote people's livelihoods and bring tangible benefits to the people, Xi noted.
In April 2020, Xi spoke by phone with then-Lao president Bounnhang Vorachit, expressing China's readiness to keep up the momentum of exchanges and steadily advance projects such as the China-Laos Railway and economic corridor.
(Compiled by Lyu Xingke, edited by Dong Feng and Huang Jingjing)