TV, beer and railways - bringing Laos and China together

"Speaking Chinese will open up new opportunities for me. With many Lao people keen to learn Chinese, when I go back home after graduation next year, I will teach Chinese language, culture and politics," said Tala, from Vientiane, Laos.

Tala, a master's student at Guangxi University, is also one of hundreds of thousands of Lao fans of Chinese TV programs.

In 2015, China helped Laos launch its first communications satellite, which has significantly improved the quality of radio and television broadcasts there.

Innumerable Chinese television programs have been translated into Lao and aired in the country -- more than 100 episodes every year since 2014, according to Lu Xuemei, a senior editor of a TV station in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. China and Laos are now working together to translate classic Chinese cartoons.

A documentary on 50 years of China-Laos relations, a joint production by the two sides, has been a big hit.

"TV has opened a window for Lao people to learn about China. Lao people watch Chinese news and TV shows every day, so China has widespread cultural influence there," Lu said.

In 2011, Beer Lao began exports to China and the company was the first sponsor of the China-ASEAN Expo in 2012.

"From being an unknown to becoming a household name in China took us just four years," said Phengrattanavong Khomsone, manager of the overseas department of Beer Lao. China is now the company's largest overseas market, accounting for around 70 percent of its entire exports.

China is also the largest investor in Laos and the country's second largest trading partner. From January to September, bilateral trade reached 210 million U.S. dollars, an increase of 25.1 percent year-on-year.

China has invested heavily in hydropower, minerals and the garment trade in Laos in recent years. As Laos exports more of its products to China, Lao agricultural produce -- rice, coffee and bananas -- are becoming more popular among Chinese customers.

The China-Laos railway, currently under construction, is sure to further increase cultural and commercial exchange between the two countries.

"It takes at least a day to transport farm produce to China, but when the railways opens, it will only take four hours," said Souksavath, a research fellow of Lao Academy of Social Science.

Infrastructure cooperation in railways, roads and power generation is lifting China-Laos ties to a new level, Souksavath said.

Cooperation in politics, the economy, culture and education will benefit both peoples, and help the evolution of a community of shared future for mankind, he added.

Editor: zhangjunmian