BEIJING, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Chinese president, and Thongloun Sisoulith, general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and Lao president, jointly witnessed the opening of the China-Laos Railway, a flagship project that started operation on Friday, via video link.
The two countries have worked together to ensure that the construction project went to plan and that the railway opened on time.
During Xi's visit to Laos in November 2017, the two countries signed a series of documents covering the China-Laos Economic Corridor and infrastructure, among which the railway was designated as a landmark project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Laos. The railway project bridges the China-proposed BRI and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub.
Writing in reply to a letter from a Lao school in April 2019, Xi said the students and teachers could soon visit Beijing on the China-Laos railway.
In his letter to the students and teachers of the China-Laos Friendship Nongping Primary School in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, Xi noted that he had proposed the initiative to support common development and improve the lives of people who live in countries along the Belt and Road.
"We benefit a lot from joining the Belt and Road construction. We will strive to help the kids realize the dream of studying in China," said 56-year-old Bounmy, principal of the primary school, after receiving the reply letter from Xi.
The cross-border railway stretches 1,035 km from Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, in southwest China to Vientiane.
The China-Laos Railway is a road of connectivity and friendship, and cooperation on the project exemplifies the spirit of the China-Laos community of a shared future, said Chinese Ambassador to Laos Jiang Zaidong.
Despite the difficulties associated with a project of this size, he added that Chinese and Lao engineers built the railway with high standards and sound quality.
The China-Laos railway will serve as an effective channel facilitating greater cooperation, economic and trade flow, balanced development, and cultural exchanges, experts said.