Top Diplomats from Laos, Timor-Leste, Vietnam Visit Beijing to Strengthen Ties

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(Photo: CGTN)

In a move aimed at bolstering bilateral relations, China is hosting a series of high-profile meetings with Southeast Asian foreign ministers, underlining its efforts to solidify cooperation with regional allies.

Scheduled to visit Beijing from 2 to 5 April, top diplomats from Laos, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam are set to discuss with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Saleumxay Kommasith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Laos; Bendito Dos Santos Freitas, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste; and Bui Thanh Son, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam are visiting China to strengthen relations following the meetings between the leaders of all three countries and Chinese President Xi Jinping last year.

In October 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith in Beijing, aiming at strengthening the ties between their countries and building a shared future. China pledged to support Laos’ ASEAN presidency and increase investment, imports, and cooperation across various sectors, deepening political trust, and enhancing governance capabilities, and cooperation, especially in projects like the existing cross-border railway aimed at boosting regional connectivity.

The 1,035-kilometer high-speed railway, a joint venture between China and Laos, linking Kunming in southern China with Laos’ Vientiane Capital, has catalyzed economic growth since its completion in 2021. Notably, the railway has witnessed a remarkable surge in cargo volume during the first quarter of 2024, reaching a record 1.38 million tonnes, marking a significant 33.6 percent increase from the previous year. Furthermore, it has facilitated the transit of over 30.2 million passengers since its inauguration in December 2021.

In the case of Timor-Leste, Dos Santos Freitas’s visit follows Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s visit to Beijing last September, a visit that resulted in the elevation of ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership. Among the proposed collaborative initiatives is the Chinese exploration and development of oil and gas in Timor-Leste.

Meanwhile, during this meeting,  Chinese and Vietnamese officials are anticipated to concentrate on expanding trade along their shared border and assessing the feasibility of proposed railway projects discussed during Xi’s visit to Hanoi in December.

Additionally, this upsurge in diplomatic engagements aligns with Indonesian President-elect Prabowo Subianto’s recent visit to Beijing. During this visit, President Xi reiterated China’s commitment to enhance cooperation in line with Indonesia’s development strategies.

As China strengthens its regional influence, these diplomatic interactions reveal a blend of geopolitics and economic interests shaping Southeast Asia’s ties with major global powers.