BEIJING, Nov 15 (Reuters) - China aims to complete laying a 418-kilometre (260-mile) railway from a border town to Laos by 2020, the official China Economic Herald reported, as the economic giant seeks a new route into the emerging markets of Southeast Asia.
The two countries agreed on Friday to jointly build a 40-billion yuan ($6.28 billion) railway from the border town of Boten to the Laos capital Vientiane, the Herald reported.
The deal was announced at a signing ceremony attended by senior officials from the National Development & Reform Commission the country’s top economic planner, China Railway Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of China, the paper said.
Laos, poor and landlocked, has traditionally been firmly in the orbit of its larger neighbour to the east, Vietnam.
But China has been aggressively courting Laos as it sees the communist-ruled country as an important route into Southeast Asia, and its ports on the Mekong River for landlocked parts of southwestern China such as Yunnan.
The railway, to be 70 percent funded by China and 30 percent by Laos, will eventually be connected with railroads to countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, the paper said.
Last month, the Yunnan government announced an investment plan of more than 200 billion yuan in a pilot economic zone on the border with Laos that covers areas including energy, education and transport.
$1 = 6.3735 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Stephen Coates