On December 3rd, 2021, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of the China Central Committee and China’s president, and Thongloun Sisoulith, general secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee and Laos’ president, jointly witnessed the opening of the China-Laos Railway via a video link.
The China-Laos Railway, a landmark project of the high-quality Belt and Road Initiative, stretches over 1000 kilometers from Kunming in China’s Yunnan Province to Laos’ capital Vientiane. As a project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Laos’ strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub, it serves as a milestone for Laos’ modern infrastructure construction. Regardless of the challenges and difficulties, such as the outbreak of COVID-19 during its construction, the Railway is a result of concerted effort and close cooperation between the two sides. It also vividly reflects the spirit of “good neighbors, good friends, good comrades, and good partners” and the spirit of building a community with a shared future and demonstrates the special advantages of the socialist systems of the two countries in pooling resources to accomplish major tasks.
As a key university included in the “Double First-Class” initiative, NNU has been committed to serving the Belt and Road Initiative with high-quality personnel training. As the first batch of national universities to open to the world after China’s reform and opening up, as a demonstration base for international student education, a national base for teaching Chinese as a foreign language, and the first batch of national bases for Chinese language and culture education, NNU offers high-quality education for international students, has cultivated more than 1800 outstanding international talents a year for the world, especially for countries along the BRI route. During the construction of the China-Laos Railway, many of them worked diligently at their posts and contributed their wisdom and strength to the construction. Buping, a 2006 Ph.D. graduate from NNU, is now deputy director-general of the General Office of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic participated in the preliminary negotiation of the China-Laos Railway construction. Yang Cai, a Laotian alumnus of NNU, has worked in the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd. Since 2016. He participated in the whole process of negotiation and the translation of the China-Laos Railway construction agreement. Shawen Zhang, a 2013 graduate of NNU and an alumna of the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos, participated in the organization of the opening ceremony of the China-Laos Railway. There are also many Laotian alumni of NNU who have supported the construction of the China-Laos Railway in different ways.
The construction and opening of the China-Laos Railway have also attracted extensive attention from the Laotian alumni of NNU. Vanida, an alumna who majored in administrative management, said the opening of the China-Laos Railway will facilitate the development of tourism, agriculture, water conservancy, and other resources along the route, strengthen economic, social, and cultural cooperation and exchanges between the two countries, and speed up the construction of the China-Laos economic corridor, which is of great significance for building a China-Laos community with a shared future. She is looking forward to returning to NNU on the China-Laos high-speed train once the epidemic is over. Linlin, a master’s student in law, believes that the China-Laos Railway will also connect Thailand, Malaysia, and other countries’ railways in the near future when Chinese tourists can travel by train to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and other countries for vacation. The China-Laos Railway will create a large number of job opportunities for Laos and inject new impetus into the economic development of southwest China.
In recent years, NNU has cultivated more than 50 international students from Laos, who have been the backbone and come from all walks of life in Laos, devoting themselves to the cultural and commercial exchanges between China and Laos. They are also the walking examples of the high quality of NNU’s international student education, opening a bright road for the Belt and Road educational exchanges and cooperation. In the future, NNU will continue to give full play to its advantages and unique characteristics, enhance its ability to serve the national strategic needs, and improve the quality of talent cultivating, to make more contributions to the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and the building of a community with a shared future for all mankind.