Vision, wisdom of the CPC sheds light on Laos’ development; bilateral friendship is at its prime: Lao ambassador
Fruitful partnership
Published: Sep 28, 2022 10:00 PM
East China's Zhejiang Province launches it first international freight train that runs via the China-Laos Railway, on June 29, 2022. Photo: VCG

East China's Zhejiang Province launches it first international freight train that runs via the China-Laos Railway, on June 29, 2022. Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

As the world grapples with unilateralism-induced crises that have threatened global peace, China continues to be a shining example on the international stage, injecting a stable, developmental and cooperative momentum. Over the last decade, China, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has achieved great success. In this series, the Global Times will interview diplomats from various countries, who will share their views on China's development and what it means for the world.

In an exclusive interview with Global Times reporter Zhang Weilan (GT), Lao Ambassador to China Khamphao Ernthavanh (Ernthavanh) shared her expectations of the 20th CPC National Congress, her insights on the 61-year-long ties between China and Laos, as well as her expectations for the future of bilateral ties, and she also refuted Western media hype over the so-called China debt trap.

Khamphao Ernthavanh.Photo: Courtesy of the Embassy of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in China

Khamphao Ernthavanh.Photo: Courtesy of the Embassy of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in China

GT: The 20th CPC National Congress is around the corner. What areas will you focus on regarding the important event? What are your expectations?  

The Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP), the government and people of Laos, and myself as Lao ambassador to China, pay utmost attention to the upcoming 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

At this important meeting, the CPC Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, will fully review the major achievements made and valuable experience gained in China's reform and development endeavors. As far as I know, it will also formulate programs of action and overarching policies to meet China's new development goals on the journey ahead in the new era and elect China's new central leadership.

I believe the 20th National Congress of the CPC will make positive contributions to advancing the Chinese path to modernization to achieve the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. 

I wish the upcoming 20th National Congress of the CPC success, and hope the CPC will lead China in achieving greater success in building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

GT: How do you think of China's development and achievements in the last decade?What impressed you the most?  

Over the last 10 years, China has achieved great success in promoting social economic development, eliminating absolute poverty, and conducting active cooperation with the rest of the world in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Also in the previous year, the Chinese people celebrated the centennial of the CPC's founding.

On the economic front, China accounted for over 30 percent of the global economy in 2022, remaining the world's second-largest economy, injecting important impetus into global recovery against the backdrop of the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, China has made remarkable achievements as it declared victory in the critical battle against poverty by lifting nearly 100 million rural residents out of poverty and completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, which contributed to the world poverty reduction and eradication agenda. 

Since the COVID-19 outbreaks in 2020, China has conducted active cooperation with the rest of the world in the fight against the pandemic, demonstrating its commitment to act as a responsible major country. All these achievements have made deep impression on me.

Sheds light on development of Laos

GT: China and Laos are both socialist countries. What do you think Laos and other developing countries could learn from the CPC's governance experience? Why? 

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC which was held in 2012, the CPC has made major breakthroughs in advancing China's governance, systems and practices. 

These endeavors have fully demonstrated the advantages of socialism and brought about an increase in China's international appeal. In this process, we saw the bright prospects for China's efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind. By sharing its vision and wisdom of problem solving, the CPC has set a stellar example for and offers enlightening experience to the global community in its long-term endeavors to human progress.

Both Laos and China are socialist countries. CPC's successful governance experience sheds a light on the development of Laos and has made positive contributions to the socialist cause.

The book Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, authored by the Chinese president himself, plays an important part in the introduction of the theoretical innovation of the CPC and the practices of unleashing the hard-working spirit of the Chinese people. It also provides the global community with a unique look into China and gives a better understanding of its vision for the future. By reading it carefully, we get the rich connotations of the book, and are able to strive for development in practice.

GT: How do you view the successes that the China-Laos Railway has achieved? What are the most impressive changes and what are your expectations?

The Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) proposed by China has garnered great support the world over, as it brings tangible benefits to the participating countries where significant progress has been made. The BRI reflects joint efforts in seeking common prosperity and converging interests in development, demonstrates the vision of Chinese leaders, and conforms to the development needs of the times on the journey to boosting global connectivity.

As a landmark project being supported and pushed forward by leaders in both countries, the China-Laos Railway forges greater synergy between China's BRI with the strategy of Laos to transform itself from a land-locked to a land-linked country. 

Since its inauguration in December 2021, this cross-border railroad has greatly promoted investment and trade facilitation and helped reduce transport costs. It has become an avenue for the forging of closer bonds of heart and mind between people on both sides, advancing common development and prosperity. 

Laos stands ready to work with China as well as other developing countries on the initiative. We're willing to expand cooperation in more industrial sectors in the post-pandemic era, meanwhile both sides will leverage complementary strengths in pursuit of mutual benefit and common development.

GT: Some Western media sources continue to hype the so-called China debt trap theory in countries participating in the BRI. What's your comment on this?

The so-called China debt trap narrative serves, in essence, as a tool to hinder China's further cooperation with other developing countries like Laos under the BRI. 

As a matter of fact, China has provided mostly preferential loans, with low interest rates and long maturities, which have played a positive role in the improvement of infrastructure and people's livelihoods.

Staff members of a Chinese-funded tea company buy tea at a local factory on the Borovin Plateau in southern Laos, on March 25, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Staff members of a Chinese-funded tea company buy tea at a local factory on the Borovin Plateau in southern Laos, on March 25, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Attaches great importance to the Global Development Initiative

GT: How do you think China and countries in the region can jointly cope with global challenges under the Lancang Mekong Cooperation(LMC)framework? 

Ernthavanh: China and Laos are both important members of the LMC framework. Since its inception in 2016, the LMC has entered a new phase of development. It has envisioned a world in which all LMC-affiliated countries can achieve the common progress of humanity and people's aspirations for a better life in pursuing economic and social development. 

The LMC plays a fundamental role in deepening friendly cooperation between Lancang-Mekong countries and driving joint efforts to build a Lancang-Mekong community with a shared future of regional peace and prosperity.

I am confident that by deepening practical cooperation in both political and economic fields and increase people-to people exchanges, we are able to lower risks brought by the pandemic, global energy and food crises, and climate change.

Laos and China will work together to set an example for a new era of international relations with shared interests through deepening high-level mutual trust, mutual benefits, and cultural affinity.

GT: How do you think the China-psoposed Global Development Initiative (GDI) and Global Security Initiative (GSI) will work in tackling global challenges?

The Lao government attaches great importance to international cooperative initiatives proposed by China, including the BRI, the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative. We welcome these two initiatives because they embrace the expectations of the countries to promote peace, development and win-win cooperation. Laos is ready to work with China to pursue the initiatives to make sure they burgeon and bear fruits in our region.

GT: How do you evaluate current China-Laos relations? In what areas do you expect to further expand forms of cooperation with China? 

Laos and China, connected by mountains and rivers, share a long history of friendship and cooperative partnership. Since the two countries established diplomatic ties 61 years ago, we have always stayed committed to our common ideals, trusted and offered mutual support to each other, and worked toward a shared future. Laos-China friendship is in its prime. 

In recent years, the Laos-China friendship has been further cemented and is showing fresh vitality. We attach great importance and positivity to our bilateral ties, since we are good neighbors, good friends, good comrades, and good partners with the same vision.

The cooperation and achievements between Laos and China are highly appreciated by both the party and government, and the people of Laos. As I say, Laos and China enjoy broader cooperation involving a wide range of areas and closer interactions between the two peoples, which truly showcases friendly cooperation with mutual benefits. 

The opening of the China-Laos railway marked a new major breakthrough for bilateral economic relations. China has been the largest investor and second largest trading partner of Laos for many years and China's total investment in Laos reached $16 billion and investments have been made in 833 projects. 

Next, we expect to see our strengthened exchanges and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, trade and investment, and tourism. We believe the taking effect of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal and the upgraded version of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) will bring the two sides closer to achieve a win-win outcome.

We are confident that cooperation between Laos and China on the basis of mutual respect, equality, and sincerity will set a model for the region and the world.