NANNING, In a few years, the people of Laos, a landlocked country in the heart of Indo China, may be able to travel to China by high speed train, Xinhua news agency reports.

"The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is changing the geographic status of Laos and boosting infrastructure construction along the railway," says former Laotian deputy prime minister Lengsavad Somsavat at the China-ASEAN Expo in this south Chinese city.

As of July, over one third of the 414 km long high speed rail linking China and Laos has been built. It is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2021.

Like Laos, member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have benefited from joint projects within the framework of the China-proposed BRI.

In Brunei, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has helped build the country's first 3G and 4G mobile networks, thus providing services to more than 400,000 users.

In Cambodia, China Datang Corporation has invested and built a hydropower plant and a 230-kV power transmission project.

"As Cambodia develops, there is a surging need for power consumption. We appreciate the contributions Chinese companies such as Datang have made to the development of our power grid," Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said at a roundtable discussion with Chinese executives.

Seeing a synergy between the BRI and the region's development plans, Southeast Asian countries have welcomed China's contribution towards ASEAN connectivity and integration via various transport and infrastructure projects.

"The enhanced cooperation between ASEAN and China under the BRI has not only benefited people in the region but also elevates the global status of ASEAN," said Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines.

Noting the natural link between the BRI and the Philippines' Build, Build, Build infrastructure programme, Arroyo said her country is eager to enhance cooperation with China in technology, talent exchange and construction.

"China has always put cooperation with ASEAN high on its diplomatic agenda. The BRI is conducive to elevating ASEAN to the central role in regional cooperation," said Zhai Kun, a professor of international relations at Peking University.

The magnetic effect of the BRI has also attracted countries outside the region to seek cooperation and opportunities with China and member states of ASEAN.

Businesses from 19 countries along the Belt and Road, including Germany, Australia and Tanzania, have set up booths and showcased their products at this year's expo.

Source: NAM News Network