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Editor’s Note: China Daily is publishing a series of stories reviewing President Xi Jinping’s visits at home and abroad in the past decade, to showcase his vision for development in China and the world.

Cooperation of Laos and China benefits both

(China Daily/ANN) -- Five years after President Xi Jinping was in Laos on a state visit, Sommano Pholsena, an old schoolmate of his, is happy to see the fruit of collaboration between the two countries.
“The China-Laos railway has been opened,” said Sommano, a former vice-general manager of the state corporation Electricite du Laos. “I’ve also heard that the first phase of a China-aided hospital in Vientiane has started to accept patients.”
He was referring to the 1,035-kilometre railway that opened in December, a landmark project of high-quality Belt and Road collaboration connecting Kunming in Yunnan province with the Lao capital, Vientiane.
“Many hospitals and schools were built under pilot poverty alleviation programmes,” Sommano told China Daily in fluent Mandarin. “The results are obvious.”
As the second son of the former Lao foreign minister Quinim Pholsena, a key figure who pushed for the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Laos in 1961, Sommano, together with his siblings, studied at Beijing Bayi School with Xi in the 1960s.
On Nov 13, 2017, Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, arrived in Laos for a two-day state visit after he attended the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam. It was the first visit to Laos by a Chinese head of state in 11 years.
Despite a tight schedule, Xi made time to meet his friends from the Pholsena family at the hotel where he stayed in Vientiane. Xi had also met them when he visited Laos in 2010 as vice-president.
“Xi remembered all of our names,” Sommano said. “He was standing by the door, and we walked into the room to shake hands with him. He asked if we were well.”
Sommano said the family felt privileged and proud to meet Xi. “Our younger family members were also very excited and even asked me if I could help get Xi’s autograph,” he said.
Sommano said he was most impressed that Xi called his family, many of whom had studied in China, witnesses and successors of the friendship between China and Laos. “He stressed specifically that we should pass this on to our next generation.”
During the visit Xi reached a number of agreements with the Lao leadership, such as accelerating the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative and Laos’ strategy to transform itself from a landlocked country to a “land-linked “one. The two sides also emphasised pushing forward the construction of the China-Laos economic corridor, the China-Laos railway, and expanding collaboration fields such as energy, resources, electricity and finance, as well as sectors such as healthcare, education and poverty alleviation.
The two countries agreed that jointly building a community of shared future with strategic significance on the basis of mutual trust is in line with the fundamental interests and common expectations of the two parties, two countries and two peoples, and also conducive to the cause of peace and development for the world.
Xi attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a China-aided upgrade project of Mahosot Hospital, one of the first hospitals in Laos, built in 1910.As a landmark project in bilateral collaboration in public welfare, the 700-million-yuan (US$104 million) project includes the expansion of the century-old hospital and the construction of new in-house medical facilities.
In November the first phase of the project was handed over to Laos, including the new ward building and the building for treating infectious diseases.
Phisith Phoutsavath, who took part in the groundbreaking ceremony as the then deputy general manager of Mahosot Hospital, said the upgrading project helped to increase the number of beds to make it the biggest in Laos.
The upgrade was important not only because it improved the hospital’s capability to treat more patients, with better skills, but also because it allowed Mahosot Hospital, a teaching hospital, to train more medical talent in Laos, Phisith said.
“Xi also told the Lao and Chinese ophthalmological teams to continue working together for the Lao people,” Phisith said, recalling that Xi also visited Lao patients who received free cataract surgery from Chinese ophthalmologists as part of an aid project at the time.

(Latest Update July 13, 2022)

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