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Home » China-Laos Railway promotes connectivity in Southeast Asia

China-Laos Railway promotes connectivity in Southeast Asia

The 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits and related meetings are underway in Cambodia. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is there to attend some of the meetings and pay an official visit to the country. In recent years, China and ASEAN have cooperated closely in various fields, and the China-Laos Railway is a landmark project which is further promoting connectivity in the region.

by Iam Sann
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The China-Laos Railway has greatly boosted bilateral trade between the two countries and further promoted connectivity in the Southeast Asia region, the latest data shows, as the cross-border channel nears its one-year anniversary.

The 1,035-kilometer-long railway went into operation on December 3, 2021, linking Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province, with Laotian capital Vientiane.

In the first 11 months, the railway has transported more than 9.8 million tonnes of cargo, data from the China Railway Kunming Bureau shows. In October, the freight volume reached 1.35 million tonnes, hitting a record in a single month.

With the non-stop “Lanmei” express line, it only takes 26 hours for the whole trip, with a fast customs clearance service in place.

Cargo to be transported via the China-Laos railway are loaded up in Kunming. /China Railway Kunming Bureau

Cargo to be transported via the China-Laos railway are loaded up in Kunming. /China Railway Kunming Bureau

“The direct service guarantees us stable and efficient transportation,” said Yang Jie, manager of the Kunming branch of the Shanghai Rencheng Supply Chain Management Company, which specializes in exporting fabrics and equipment for garment factories in Southeast Asian countries.

“With it, our transportation costs have reduced by about 30 percent, and our exports have substantially grown. Our company has also set up a branch in Laos, and we will continue to increase the freight volume on the railway,” said Yang.

During a recent exclusive interview with CMG, Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith said Lao people are proud of this modern railway.

“Laos is a landlocked country, and this railway enables the country to develop a logistics network leading to other countries in the region. It will attract more investors and tourists to Laos,” said Sisoulith.

A freight train runs on the China-Laos Railway. /CGTN

A freight train runs on the China-Laos Railway. /CGTN

The railroad has promoted connectivity between China and the whole Southeast Asia region. Apart from Laos, trade along it also covers countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore. Meanwhile, the varieties of goods transported through it have increased to some 1,200 from about 100 initially.

Jaruwan Udomsab, from Thailand, works in Kunming as a researcher on Southeast Asia development. She said the railway has created many opportunities for both sides.

“Take Thailand for example, we have many agricultural products popular with the Chinese market, like fresh fruits and rice, and the railway has absolutely boosted their trade. Meanwhile, many Chinese products, especially electronic products, are in demand in many countries, and they are also benefiting from the railway,” said Udomsab.

She added that when the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control, she believes that the railway will play an active role in driving cross-border tourism and promoting people-to-people exchanges in the region.

Also, as part of the larger infrastructure project, 40 people from Laos are now receiving training on railway technology in Kunming, as the country is in great need of specialists in the field.

Trainees from Laos learn railway technology at the Kunming Railway Vocational Technical College. /CGTN

Trainees from Laos learn railway technology at the Kunming Railway Vocational Technical College. /CGTN

“We’ve learned a lot here in terms of both Chinese language and railway knowledge. The school has arranged a Chinese peer for each of us to help with the language learning. And apart from theoretical studies, there are also simulated training courses to adopt skills,” Khamphout Xayyakhouthong, one of the trainees, told CGTN.

Upon the completion of the two-year program, the trainees will work as teachers at a railway vocational school in their own country, contributing to the better operation of the cross-border railway with what they learn here.

The Lao president has higher expectations for the railway.

“I believe the China-Laos Railway will extend beyond Laos to other ASEAN countries. By then, our mutually beneficial relationship will see greater development,” the president said.

Source : Cgtn,com

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