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Premier’s tour significant to East Asia integrity, China-Laos partnership

Updated: Sep 6,2016 8:55 AM     Xinhua

VIENTIANE — Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming tour to Laos will significantly enhance relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China-Laos comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, Chinese ambassador to Laos said here on Sept 5.

During his stay in Laos on Sept 6-9, Premier Li will attend the 11th East Asia Summit in Vientiane and pay an official visit to Laos.

Guan Huabing, Chinese ambassador to Laos, told Xinhua in a recent interview that since this year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of China-Laos diplomatic ties and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN dialogue relationship, Premier Li’s visit is expected to push forward regional integration in East Asia.

Prior to his official visit to Laos, the Premier will arrive at Vientiane on Sept 6 to attend the 19th China-ASEAN Summit to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue relationship, the 19th ASEAN Plus Three (China, South Korea and Japan) Summit and the 11th East Asia Summit.

Guan said that as neighbors with close culture relations, intervolving interests and common destiny, China and ASEAN in the past 25 years have developed their dialogue relationship into the most dynamic one among all dialogue relationships of ASEAN.

According to Guan, Premier Li will review achievements reached between China and ASEAN with leaders from the 10-nation bloc, summarize constructive experience and raise a series of new Chinese initiatives so as to develop new pillars for bilateral ties, and to take the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue relationship as an opportunity to upgrade China-ASEAN ties and push East Asian cooperation to a new high.

China and Laos, linked by rivers and mountains, have enjoyed a long history of friendship and are “good neighbors, good friends, good comrades and good partners,” said Guan.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries 55 years ago, the development of China-Laos relations has withstood tests and scored substantial progress featuring deepened comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, closer high-level exchanges and fruitful achievements from pragmatic cooperation in all sectors, thus benefiting the peoples of the two countries, he said.

Guan noted that the highly compatible strategies between China’s initiative on the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road initiative) and Laos’ strategy of turning itself from a “landlocked” country into a “land-linked” country will expand the space for further deepening cooperation between the two sides.

According to the ambassador, China has now become Laos’ largest source of foreign investment, largest donor country and the second largest trading partner.

The last year witnessed the laying of the cornerstone for the China-Laos railway, the launch of a communication satellite “LaoSat-1” developed for Laos by China, record high trade volume and deeper cooperation in defense, security, people to people exchanges between the two sides.

The two countries have also enjoyed close cooperation on international and regional affairs and worked together to make positive contributions to maintaining peace, stability and development in the region.

Guan said China believes that Laos, which took over the rotating chair of ASEAN immediately after the establishment of the ASEAN Community on Dec 31, 2015, will play an important role in boosting regional cooperation and maintaining regional peace and stability. China will continue to fully support Laos’ role as ASEAN’s chair for 2016, he added.

Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit visited China in May shortly after he was elected president of Laos in April and became general secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party in January.

During the visit, President Xi Jinping and Bounnhang stressed the importance of building an unshakable community of common destiny between the two sides, drawing a blueprint for the development of ties between the two countries and the Communist Party of China and the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.

Guan said that during his upcoming visit to Laos, Premier Li will exchange views with Lao leaders on further deepening the China-Laos comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, pushing forward the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative, and boosting cooperation in various fields.

Leaders from the two sides will also witness the signing of a series of cooperation documents. The visit will inject robust driving force into the deepening of bilateral relations, he added.

Drinking water from the same river and having destinies intertwined, peoples of the two countries hope that the traditional friendship between China and Laos will be injected with new vigor in the new era, and bring about more benefits for all, he said.