President Xi Jinping and his Laotian counterpart Bounnhang Vorachith shake hands in Vientiane, Laos, on Monday at the signing ceremony for documents to boost cooperation between the countries. (WANG YE / XINHUA)
Neighbors to jointly build Belt, Road, boost cooperation in multiple areas
China and Laos agreed to jointly build the Belt and Road and enhance cooperation on multiple issues including agriculture during President Xi Jinping's state visit on Monday.[Special coverage]
Xi and his Laotian counterpart Bounnhang Vorachith witnessed the signing of 16 documents to enhance collaboration in areas such as finance, trade, infrastructure and people-to-people exchanges.
Xi, who was given an enthusiastic reception in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, is on his first state visit to Laos since becoming president in March 2013, as well as his first visit since becoming general secretary of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee in late 2012. Xi was re-elected general secretary of the 19th CPC Central Committee last month.
Bounnhang is also general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party.
Large portraits of Xi and Bounnhang were hung at the entrance to the airport, the national flags of China and Laos were placed along roads from the airport to the hotel, and local youngsters waved flags of both countries to greet Xi and the delegation.
Before holding talks, Bounnhang hosted a grand welcoming ceremony for Xi at Laos' Presidential Palace.
In his opening remarks at the talks, Xi expressed gratitude for the warm welcome from Laos, saying that he was deeply moved by the enthusiasm of the Laotian people from the moment he got off the plane.
Xi also thanked the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and Bounnhang for a congratulatory message on the success of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and Xi's re-election as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.
During their talks, the two leaders agreed to jointly build a community of a shared future for China and Laos on the basis of mutual trust, which is in line with the core interests and common wishes of the two parties and countries.
The sides agreed to maintain the tradition of high-level exchanges, boost party-to-party exchanges and enhance cooperation in diplomacy, national defense and law enforcement.
The two countries agreed to connect the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with the Laotian strategy of making a landlocked country into a country with many connections.
They also agreed to make joint efforts to build major projects including the China-Laos economic corridor and China-Laos rail project.
Both China and Laos are socialist countries led by communist parties, and they are very good neighbors, friends, comrades and partners, Xi said in a written statement on his arrival at Vientiane's airport.
Their friendly relations have stood the test of changes in the international situation since the two countries established diplomatic ties 56 years ago, Xi said.
Their comprehensive strategic partnership has not only brought practical benefits for the people of both countries, but also contributed to global and regional peace and stability, Xi added.
Bounnhang highlighted the importance of Xi's visit, saying that the Chinese president's historic visit has great significance for the economic and social development of Laos.
Bounnhang congratulated Xi on his re-election as general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. Noting that it is Xi's first state visit to Laos, Bounnhang said it demonstrates that China considers the development of the Laos-China comprehensive strategic partnership to be of great importance.
Xi's visit will bring opportunities for the development of Laos-China relations, Bounnhang said.
In May 2016, shortly after being elected president of Laos in April of that year, Bounnhang made a state visit to China, during which Xi met with him, and the two leaders agreed on a number of cooperative projects.