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Young Lao Engineer’s Dream Fulfilled Thanks to Bri Cooperation

“The Laos-China Railway is like a dream comes true,” said Kaifa Keosingthong, a 24-year-old man from the countryside in northern Laos’ Xayaboury province.

Kaifa is now working as an engineer in the maintenance center of the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd., a joint venture to run the railway.

The China-Laos Railway, a landmark project showcasing high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, began operation in December 2021.

The railway also serves as a docking project, with Laos’ strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub.

Since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a number of development projects have been started and implemented, which is not only creating job opportunity and increasing revenue for Laos but also providing extensive benefits for the long-term development of Laos, as well as providing stable dynamics for economic cooperation between China and Laos.

Kaifa told Xinhua proudly that he has been striving to work on the project since he was a student.

“Working here has been my goal since I was a student. And when I had a chance to study in China, I took a course in railway engineering because I have always been interested in engineering.”

“Another reason is that very few people in Laos have graduated from this major,” he said.

Presently, Kaifa has been working in the maintenance center of the railway since he came back to Laos after graduating.

Kaifa also told Xinhua about his life in China and his perseverance when studying there in 2018. “When I went to study in China, I had a chance to learn about railways in detail, including construction and maintenance. But my Chinese was weak when I just arrived,” he said.

“In the first year studying there, I decided to stay in China without returning home, aiming to learn the Chinese language intensively.”

Kaifa practiced Chinese every day for a year and passed the test eventually. And these efforts were not in vain. He said that all the knowledge he had learned has been used in actual work, adding that he respects his Chinese colleagues as educators for always patiently teaching him anything he needed to know to do the jobs.

“My job is a bit difficult, but I always try to understand new information and learn with my Chinese colleagues. And they always find a way to help me understand easily.”

Since it began operation, the China-Laos Railway has promoted regional connectivity, brought opportunities to enterprises and individuals in both countries and injected strong impetus into economic and social development along the route.

The China-Laos Railway started cross-border passenger services on April 13 and has been regarded as a historic event, as the landlocked country has realized its dream of becoming a land-linked hub in the region and beyond, which is the common wish of the Lao people.

The country is the only landlocked ASEAN member with mountains and plateaus that account for about 80 percent of the land area. Breaking through the blockade of mountains and converting it from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub have realized.

Cross-border passenger trains linking Kunming, the capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province, to the Lao capital Vientiane, travel at a speed of up to 160 km per hour through mountains and valleys.

In 2013, China proposed the BRI to foster new drivers for global development. To date, more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations have signed documents under the BRI framework, bringing an economic boon to participating countries.

More people and enterprises from both sides have benefited from the opportunities thanks to joint efforts of China and Laos to participate in the Belt and Road cooperation.

“It can be observed that the areas around the railway stations have been developed and some people have started their new businesses,” Kaifa said, adding, “The railway makes traveling in Laos more comfortable. It makes me feel happy and so proud when I see villagers riding on the train conveniently.”

“My Family and all relatives are very proud that I have an opportunity to work on a big project like this. And I am also proud of myself for being able to achieve my goal to work in the rail industry.”

“We will do our best to carry out the maintenance work to preserve the China-Laos Railway,” Kaifa said recently.

He went on to tell Xinhua about his ultimate goal, “My classmates and I have one common goal. We want to learn as much technical knowledge as possible to become experts. Then we will be able to lead Lao people in running the railway (by ourselves) in the future.”