China, Laos to strengthen cooperation in COVID-19 fight, economy, regional cooperation

October 16, 2020

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi touches elbows with Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith prior to their talks in Vientiane, Laos, Oct. 14, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Jianhua)

Visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met here Wednesday with Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith and the two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation in the post-epidemic era, economic ties and coordination in regional affairs.

Wang said China and Laos are friendly neighbors and also comrades and brothers working together to advance the socialist cause.

Both countries have succeeded in containing the COVID-19 epidemic, demonstrating the socialist systems' advantages of concentrating resources to accomplish large undertakings and the two parties' advanced philosophy of taking the interests of the people above everything else, Wang said.

Wang said China is willing to sum up lessons and experiences from both countries' joint efforts in fighting the epidemic, plan post-pandemic cooperation and strengthen bilateral strategic communication and coordination, so as to speed up the construction of China-Laos community of shared future and invest strong impetus into each other's development.

He expressed thanks for the selfless support from the Lao ruling party, government and society for China's anti-COVID-19 fight, and pledged to continue providing anti-virus materials to Laos while offering the country priority access to vaccines based on its needs.

China is ready to join hands with Laos to construct the Belt and Road, smoothly promote bilateral economic cooperation, well implement China-aided social welfare projects in Laos, grant zero tariff treatment to Lao products under 97 percent of taxable items, import more of Laos' agricultural products so as to help the country speed up economic recovery, he said.

Wang called on both sides to strengthen coordination in regional affairs to ensure the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within the year, smoothly promote region cooperation on blue economy and digital economy in order to continuously advance the level of regional integration.

China is also willing to carry out the consensuses reached at the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting, advance the synergy of LMC and the New Land-Sea Corridor so as to promote the development and prosperity of the six countries of the region.

For his part, Saleumxay said that Laos and China are not only friendly neighbors, but also comrades-in-arms.

On COVID-19 response, both countries have maintained close communication in various forms since the outbreak of the epidemic, and cooperation in various fields has maintained a strong momentum of development, which demonstrates the common aspiration of the two sides to further deepen bilateral relations and enhance mutual trust, and sends a clear signal that the two sides are advancing the building of the Laos-China community of shared future, he said.

Laos highly values and firmly supports the important speeches and cooperation initiatives made by President Xi Jinping at the high-level meetings marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, said Saleumxay, extending congratulations to China on its significant strategic achievements in fighting the epidemic.

China's experience in fighting COVID-19 is worth learning. Laos sincerely appreciates China's long-term assistance, especially its strong support in combating the epidemic, he said.

Laos is willing to maintain high-level exchanges with China, further deepen cooperation in such areas as fighting the epidemic, economy, trade, and finance so as to push bilateral relations to a higher level, said the Lao foreign minister.

Laos is ready to work with China to upgrade relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and promote the sound development of LMC, he said, adding his country also backs the Global Initiative on Data Security China has proposed in response to new issues and challenges emerging in the field of data security.

The two sides also announced on Wednesday the launch of the fast lane for personal exchanges and the green lane for logistics.

Wang arrived in Laos early Wednesday on an Asian tour from Oct. 11-15. He has paid official visits to Cambodia and Malaysia and a transit visit to Singapore. His last stop is Thailand.