Investment and procurement projects worth tens of billions of yuan have been signed at a China-Laos Railway development and promotion conference during the weekend, as the railway has become a vivid portrayal of the high-quality joint construction of the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative (BRI) between China and ASEAN countries, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
The conference was held during the ongoing fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE), scheduled for November 5 to 10 in China’s economic hub Shanghai.
Zhao said that the China-Laos Railway has sent more than 7.5 million passengers after 11 months of operation, which greatly facilitates the travel of people along the line. Last week, all the seven freight stations along the Lao section of the China-Laos Railway had been put into operation, further accelerating connectivity among countries along the BRI.
In the first 11 months, China-Laos Railway has operated a total of 225 freight trains, transporting 9.86 million tons of goods. The freight transportation covers more than 10 countries under the BRI, including Laos and Vietnam. The freight goods have expanded from the initial 100 kinds to more than 1,200 kinds of products ranging from electronics, photovoltaics, to cold-chain fruit.
By exploring new business models such as “gate to gate” and intermodal logistics, cold-chain logistics are channeling Yunnan’s vegetables and fresh flowers south to Laos and Thailand and to be met with northbound Southeast Asian specialties including durian and mangosteen from Thailand and Vietnam.
China’s opening door will only get wider and wider, and China’s new development will provide new opportunities for the world, Zhao said, noting that China will work with Laos and other countries to jointly construct the BRI, give full play to the flagship role of the China-Laos Railway, so as to bring more benefits to the people of the countries in the region.
The China-Laos Railway 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.
The 1,035-km railway, a landmark project reflecting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, commenced operation on December 3, 2021.
Describing the railway as transformative, observers said the line has turned Laos from a land-locked country into a land-linked hub, bringing countless local jobs and shortening travel within the country from days to hours.