The Laos-China economic corridor, which the two countries have agreed to establish, will bring great benefits to both sides and the region as a whole, Chinese Ambassador to Laos Wang Wentian told Lao and Chinese media this week.
The governments of the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the creation of the economic corridor in November last year during a state visit to Laos by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Chinese side is currently working on the details of the initiative including the corridor area and its significance, and drafting a detailed plan for the establishment of the economic corridor.
Once the draft is finished, the Chinese side will hold talks with the relevant Lao sectors to discuss details towards approving the plan to realise the corridor, the ambassador told a press conference on Tuesday.
The press conference was held in response to a request from local media.
Although the detailed plan has not yet been finalised, the ambassador was of the opinion that construction of the economic corridor had already begun.
According to the national development strategies of both nations, the Laos-China economic corridor is likely to be developed along the transport routes between the two neighbours. These include the 409km Laos-China railway linking China’s Yunnan province with Vientiane.
Construction of the railway is now 26.5 percent complete with full completion slated for 2021, according to a report from Lao authorities in charge.
Another planned transport route is an expressway to link Vientiane with Luang Namtha province heading to Yunnan.
During the visit by President Xi, who is General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the two governments signed an agreement for the construction of the Vientiane-Vangvieng section of the expressway.
Lao authorities in charge told Vientiane Times that construction of the Vientiane-Vangvieng section was expected to begin this year. “I personally think that industrial cooperation along these routes will be the fundamental basis [of the Laos-China economic corridor],” the ambassador said through an interpreter.
“Leaders of both sides, I think, have clearly identified that the Laos-China economic corridor will stretch from Yunnan to the south of Laos.”
The diplomat believed it could take 10-15 years to develop the economic corridor.
“It can be said that construction of the corridor has already kicked off,” he said, referring to the construction of the railway and progress made on the expressway.
Both nations have enjoyed growing investment cooperation with many backers from China, one of Laos’ top three largest foreign investors, operating various businesses in Laos.
These include Chinese investment in the Laos-China Boten-Mohan border economic cooperation zone, Saysettha Economic Development Zone in Vientiane, and a number of large-scale hydropower and electricity transmission line projects.
Laos’ first telecommunications satellite (Lao Sat-1) utilising Chinese technology is currently providing commercial service.
“All these cooperation projects would be included in the Laos-China economic corridor,” the ambassador said.
Expected to be developed alongside the Laos-China railway, which is part of the planned regional rail link to connect China with Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia, the Laos-China economic corridor will help drive development not only in Laos and China but countries in the region as a whole, the ambassador said.
Leaders of Laos and China attach great importance to the building of the Laos-China railway, which is part of the One Belt, One Road Initiative instigated by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The railway will stimulate the Lao government’s efforts to transform Laos from a land-locked into a land-linked nation so that it becomes a transit hub within the region.