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1,500 delegates attend Belt and Road Forum in Beijing

Beijing, China: Some 1,500 delegates from over 130 counties and 70 international organisations including 29 heads of state and government are attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, taking place in Beijing, China, from May 14-15.
Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit was one of the heads of state and government attending the opening ceremony of the forum on Sunday morning.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, recalling how in 2013 in Kazakhstan and

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation opens in Beijing, China.

Indonesia, when he visited these countries, he proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, in which many countries are now involved.
“All countries, from Asia, Europe, Africa or the Americas, can be international cooperation partners in the Belt and Road Initiative. Pursuit of the initiative is based on extensive consultation and its benefits will be shared by all countries involved,” he said.
The Belt and Road Initiative focuses on Asian, European and African countries, but is also open to all other countries.
President Xi also said China will also provide relevant international organisations with US$1 billion to implement cooperation projects that will benefit the countries along the Belt and Road.
China will launch 100 ‘happy home’ projects, 100 poverty alleviation projects and 100 healthcare and rehabilitation projects in countries along the Belt and Road. China will provide assistance worth US$8.7 billion in the next three years to developing countries and international organisations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to improve people’s well-being, including an additional about US$14.5 billion to the Silk Road Fund.
China, in cooperation with relevant countries, has accelerated the building of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, China-Laos railway, Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, and Hungary-Serbia railway, and upgraded Gwadar and Piraeus ports.
China is now cooperating with more than 100 countries and more than 60 of them have signed cooperation agreements with China, aiming to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.
The Laos-China railway project kicked off with a ground-breaking ceremony in December last year. The railway will cost an estimated US$5.8 billion and will link Vientiane to the Chinese border. The 417-km railway will be an important gateway connecting China and Asean. The railway in Laos will link with the track in Thailand to form part of the regional rail link known as the Kunming-Singapore railway, covering a total distance of about 3,000km.
Construction of the railway will be finished in 2021. Passenger trains will travel at 160 kilometres per hour, while the speed of rail cargo will be 120 kilometres per hour. Trains running from Laos to China can then link to destinations in Europe. So far, Chinese freight trains travel to 27 Chinese cities and 28 cities in 11 European countries.
Relations between China and Laos have been growing since the two countries established diplomatic relations 56 years ago.
Laos hopes to speed up its transformation from a landlocked to a land-linked country, which is aligned with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The first phase of this project is expected to be complete by 2021, and the whole project will be basically finished by 2049. 


By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update May 15, 2017)

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