VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): President Thongloun Sisoulith and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will hold official talks and attend the inauguration of the Laos-China railway via video link on Friday (Dec 3).
President Thongloun, who is also Secretary General of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party’s Central Committee, and President Xi, who is also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s Central Committee, will first meet for official talks.
Following their meeting, the leaders will attend the inauguration of the historic railway linking Vientiane to the Chinese border, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a press release.
On Dec 2, which was National Day, the Lao government held a religious ceremony at the railway station in Vientiane ahead of the inauguration of the US$5.986 billion (37.4 billion yuan) project.
The inauguration of the railway on Friday, which the government will hold at the National Convention Centre, will be broadcast live from 2-4pm and members of the public are invited to witness the historic event.
Authorities will ensure that Covid-19 control measures are closely followed during the event.
Shortly after the inauguration, Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh will lead a delegation on an inaugural ride on the Lane Xang train northwards from the Vientiane station located in Xay village, Xaythany district.
Freight transport will begin shortly after the inaugural trip, while passenger services are scheduled to start on Dec 4.
Lao and Chinese leaders have placed great importance on bringing the railway to fruition, as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The Laos-China railway is one section of a planned regional rail link that will connect China with Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.
The Lao government hopes the railway will bolster its efforts to build on the country’s landlocked location by becoming a land link within the region.
Business executives are optimistic that the railway will turn Laos into a major transport hub including on the route between Southeast Asia and Europe given that the time taken to transport freight by rail will be reduced threefold to just more than 10 days.
The government has praised and awarded all stakeholders that played a part in realising the project.
On Dec 1, Lao authorities held a ceremony to present awards to sectors and individuals in recognition of their contribution to the construction of the railway.