Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, setting in motion his first official visit to the country, where he will also attend the East Asia Summit.
During the visit, Li will also attend the 19th China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders' meeting, and the 19th meeting of the leaders of ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3).
Upon his arrival at the airport, Li said in a written speech that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue between China and ASEAN, noting that bilateral ties have reached a new historical starting point.
"I would like to join leaders of ASEAN to review the past, draw on our past experiences and look to the future so as to paint a new blueprint for future China-ASEAN cooperation and to promote development under the 10+3 and the East Asia summit mechanisms for regional peace, stability and prosperity," he said,
This year also coincides with the 55th anniversary of the establishment of China-Laos diplomatic ties.
Li said Beijing wants to take the anniversary as an opportunity to work with Vientiane in deepening their traditional friendship, mutually-beneficial cooperation, as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges in a bid to push forward the two neighbors' comprehensive strategic partnership.
Li's trip, which came on the heels of the Group of 20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, is widely considered an important diplomatic move to deepen China' s relations with the ASEAN, and promote cooperation among East Asian countries.
Spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry Hua Chunying said the Chinese side stands ready to work with ASEAN to hold a successful summit and to build a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny.
According to Hua, both sides have maintained frequent high-level exchanges, cemented political mutual trust and witnessed growing trade.
Li's visit will bring the China-Laos comprehensive strategic partnership to a new high and bring more benefits to the two peoples, Hua added.
Guan Huabing, Chinese ambassador to Laos, told Xinhua in a recent interview that Premier Li is going to raise a series of new Chinese initiatives so as to develop new pillars for bilateral ties, upgrade China-ASEAN relations and push East Asian cooperation to a new level.
According to the ambassador, China is now the largest source of foreign investment in Laos, largest donor country and the second largest trading partner.
In Laos, Premier Li is expected to meet with Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of common concern, and to witness the signing of a series of documents.
On the sidelines of the summits over the coming days, Li is also going to meet with leaders from some ASEAN nations.
(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2016)