China-Laos Railway hits milestone after 9 months of services, expected to further expand

BEIJING

The China-Laos Railway has reached another milestone, as it transported more than 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) worth of international freight in the nine months since it went into operation in December, according to the latest official data, underscoring the growing popularity of the major cross-border rail service that is expected to expand to cover more destinations in Southeast Asia.

The railway, which is a major project under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has covered 30 Chinese provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions and expanded to eight countries in Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a China Media Group report on Saturday, which cited official data from customs in Southwest China’s Yunnan.

As of Friday, customs at Mohan Port in Yunnan, which borders Laos, have cleared 1,868 cross-border freight trains since the railway entered operation on December 3, 2021. Total shipments reached 1.28 million tons with 340,000 tons of export cargo and 940,000 tons of import cargo, according to a report on local news website yunnan.cn.

The China-Laos Railway has become a vital connection channel between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China’s largest trading partner. The 1,035-kilometer railway can save 40-50 percent on transport costs for businesses. In China, the railway offers services for 1,500 enterprises.

In addition, the types of goods transported by the China-Laos Railway have also expanded to nearly 2,000, including electronic products, photovoltaic modules and telecommunication parts, according to media reports. It also saw a total of 5.54 million passenger trips as of early August.

Chinese Ambassador to Laos Jiang Zaidong said on Friday that the China-Laos Railway is a success story under the BRI, and has been operating safely for over 270 days thanks to the efforts of both sides.

Chinese and Southeast Asian officials are also seeking to further expand the increasingly popular rail service. The Bangkok Post reported last month that Thai officials were heading to Laos for a meeting on the construction of a railway that would link Thailand, Laos and China.

Meanwhile, the Yunnan provincial government has released a three-year outline for building the province into an international transport hub based on the thriving China-Laos Railway.

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