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Date: 21 October 2020 Author: Łukasz Kobierski
Wang Yi in Laos
On October 14, 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Wang Yi visited Laos. There he met with Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP), President Bounnhang Vorachit and Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith.
Wang Yi said that China and Laos are friendly neighbors, connected by mountains and rivers, as well as comrades and brothers working together for the socialist cause. He pledged to continue providing the equipment and other essential materials to fight COVID-19 in addition to offering priority access to the vaccine. Moreover, the Minister expressed his willingness to continue cooperation, to grant zero-tariff treatment for most products and to strengthen joint coordination on regional issues. Both countries should turn the current crisis into an opportunity, accelerate cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and take advantage of key projects such as the China-Laos Economic Corridor and the China-Laos railway (Vientiane–Boten railway).
The representatives of Laos congratulated China on successful fight against the pandemic and thanked for Beijing’s support during this difficult time. Laos praised the remarks made by President Xi Jinping at the meeting to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Furthermore, it supported the Global Initiative on Data Security proposed by China and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC). The handover of the title deed of the new Chinese Embassy in Laos also took place.
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The visit of the head of the Chinese MFA to Laos followed consultations in Cambodia and Malaysia. Due to similar socialist values, Laos is a vital partner for China. The value of products exported from Laos to China is constantly growing. According to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Laos, the country earned about 1.7 billion dollars on exports to the Middle Kingdom in 2019.
China seeks to support Laos in Asian regional organizations such as the ASEAN, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Joint infrastructure projects are also underway, including the China-Laos railroad (422 km or 262 mi long), which is due to be completed by December 2021. Further cooperation between the two governments in terms of economy and infrastructure as well as mutual support in regional and international organizations should be expected.
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