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How difficult is it to build a China-Laos railway in China? First cleared the American bombs for nearly half a year…




On December 3, 2021, the China-Laos Railway from Kunming, Yunnan, China to Vientiane, Laos finally opened to traffic. As a landmark project of the “Belt and Road”, in addition to the extremely rare construction difficulties and risks of the project itself, what is less well-known is that the engineering team will face a fatal threat during the construction process-a large number of American soldiers were buried along the railway during the Vietnam War. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from local indiscriminate bombing.

The Lao National News Agency (KPL) reported in 2016 that a 16.9-kilometer-long area of ​​unexploded ordnance was discovered only at the Nateuy station of the Mowan section (Boding-Vientiane) of the China-Laos Railway. Liu Qianli, head of the China-Laos Railway Project Department of the China Power Construction Hydropower Third Bureau, revealed that he had seen more than 10 bombs measuring 30 to 40 centimeters in length from the construction area, which scared the “cold sweat on the back”.

Although it is said that “there are thunders everywhere”, China and Laos have not given up, but have cooperated with each other. According to the China Belt and Road Network, before the official start of construction, the Lao Ministry of Defense established 6 demining units, which were arranged from January to May 2017. The Chinese side adjusted the construction method and dispatched professionals with experience in EOD to assist in the work. A report by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs mentioned that during the construction of the China-Laos railway from January 2017 to July 2019, about 459 unexploded ordnance and more than 460 pieces of related debris were removed from the local 2,931 hectares of land. .

In Laos, the United States dropped 2 million tons of bombs, and China left 1,035 kilometers of railways. However, the US media can still continue to smear China, claiming that “the China-Laos railway has plunged Laos into a debt trap”. British international relations analyst Tom Foddy said the truth, “Western media are sending a strange message to Laos, ‘you are bombing your friends, but the people who build the new railway are your enemies’.” The China-Laos Railway provides a textbook A typical example of how the Western media distorts the truth and hides it.


The red dot is the unexploded ordnance contaminated area in Laos , and the box is the projected railway construction area

China’s nearest neighbor, Laos, is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Of its 236,000 square kilometers of land, 80% are mountains and plateaus. Before the completion of the China-Laos-Kunwan Railway, the total length of domestic railways in Laos was only 3.5 kilometers, ranking fourth from the bottom among the 146 countries with railways in the world. The transportation system is very backward, and it is known as the “land-locked country”.

This “lock” locks the Lao people’s internal and external exchanges, and also limits the pace of Laos’ economic development. Therefore, the completion of the “China-Laos-Kunwan Railway” is of great significance, and the win-win cooperation brought about by the “One Belt, One Road” initiative will be an opportunity to help the Lao people have a better life.

The China-Laos Railway is the first international railway that is mainly invested and constructed by the Chinese side, adopts Chinese technical standards, uses Chinese equipment and is directly connected to the Chinese railway network. This project took five years and experienced countless hardships during the period. Not to mention the long negotiation process, the project itself still has extremely rare construction difficulties and risks, such as poor weather and geological conditions, high environmental protection requirements, and even access to unmanned areas. …

But the most troubling thing is that the engineering team faces a deadly threat during the construction process-a large number of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left by the United States during the Vietnam War were buried along the railway.

During the Vietnam War, Laos was passively involved. In order to block the supply line “Ho Chi Minh Trail” to the troops in northern Vietnam, the CIA instigated the secret extension of the battlefield to Laos. From 1964 to 1973, the United States carried out a total of 580,000 flying bombing missions, dropping more than 2 million tons and about 270 million bombs. Bombs, most of which are terrifying cluster bombs.

Cluster bombs, also known as “submunitions”, usually contain a large number of ammunition of various sizes. When the mother bomb is dropped, the opened projectile will spread over a larger area

In 9 years, 270 million, 2 million tons, which means an average of 8 bombs are dropped on Laos every minute, a total that is more than the number of bombs used throughout World War II.

At that time, the total population of Laos was only about 2 million people, which is equivalent to one ton of bombs for each Laotian, which also made Laos the country with the “most bombed per capita in human history”.

Each red dot represents a bombing

Later, the war finally ended, but the Lao people still lived in the scourge of the Vietnam War: According to the CBS report, 30% of the bombs dropped by the United States in Laos during the Vietnam War belonged to unexploded ordnance (UXO), and about 80 million bombs were destroyed. No explosion after throwing.

For decades, these unexploded bombs have been threatening the lives of the Lao people. Parts of the land in Laos cannot be cultivated because of the bomb threat. The national construction and economic development of Laos have been seriously affected. According to government statistics, from 1975 to 2008, more than 50,000 Laotians were killed by these unexploded bombs, most of them children.

Ironically, the entire US spent on clearing unexploded ordnance in Laos between 1995 and 2013 was only equivalent to bombing Laos for three days during the Vietnam War.

When President Obama visited Laos in 2016, he promised an additional $90 million to clear unexploded ordnance, but did not apologize for the bombing.

In recent years, with the education and help of all walks of life, the number of people in Laos who died of unexploded bombs has been reduced from thousands per year at the end of the war to dozens of people, but these unexploded bombs are still huge. hidden danger.

According to Laos’ Vientiane Times, in the 25 years from 1996 to 2020, the Lao bomb disposal team destroyed more than 1.6 million unexploded bombs on 70,000 hectares of land, and more than 4,200 large bombs alone. Complete removal could take 50 years or even a century. And just at the end of 2021, three more unexploded ordnance removal workers were killed in the explosion.

Because the bomb disposal team must probe the land inch by inch, and also need to protect the land to ensure future farming, it takes more than 2 months to detect 1 acre (about 0.4 hectares) of land, limited by efficiency and high expenditure, Laos The bomb removal effort has been slow.

This also makes the Mowan section of the China-Laos Railway already in the northwestern region where unexploded ordnance is not so widespread, but the density of local ammunition is still alarming.

According to a report by the Lao National News Agency (KPL) in December 2016, an area of ​​unexploded ordnance with a length of about 16.9 kilometers was discovered only at the location of Nateuy Station (Nateuy) of the Mowan Section (Boding-Vientiane) of the China-Laos Railway.

At that time, the Lao Ministry of Defense informed the Luang Namtha provincial government that one of the three villages the railway would pass through had unexploded ordnance that had not yet been cleared. They found a landmine in Nadui Village, and 70% of the Chinese companies whose survey work was in progress had to temporarily suspend work until the mines were cleared.

Almost at the same time, Liu Qianli, the head of the China-Laos Railway Project Department of the Third Bureau of Power China Hydropower, also rushed to the ancient city of Luang Prabang, Laos. After arriving at the project, he was stunned by the dense virgin forest and the roar of raptors and beasts from time to time in the forest.

But then what really frightened him to “cold sweat on his back” was the ubiquitous unexploded bombs in the deep mountains. After contacting the Lao Ministry of Defense for demining, more than 10 visually 34 or 40 bombs were discharged from the construction area. Centimeter-long bombs, “No man’s land is not scary. The scary thing is that there are many unexploded ordnance in this deep mountain and forest, which makes me feel unprecedented pressure.”

And Li Bin, commander of the China-Laos Railway Engineering Headquarters of POWERCHINA, who has 35 years of experience in engineering construction, also has a similar experience, “You can’t imagine the scene when I came here on the first day. The county magistrate took the militia to clear mines in front, The local villagers followed to chop down trees. The machinery could not drive in, so everyone walked in little by little.” “The unexploded ordnance here will not be exhausted in a hundred years. The construction process made people sweat.”


Li Bin shows a map of the unexploded ordnance area in the mountains of Laos from CCTV

It is no exaggeration to say that this may be one of the most dangerous railway projects in the world. But it is such a hard and dangerous “bone” that could explode at any time. China and Laos did not give up, but cooperated with each other and just gnawed it down!

According to the China Belt and Road Network, in order to ensure the smooth implementation of the project, the Lao Ministry of Defense deployed the People’s Army, and established 6 clearing units according to the bidding section to prepare relevant personnel, vehicles and necessary equipment to clear the unexploded ordnance in the marked area of ​​the project. The clearing work has been ongoing. From January to May 2017.

In order to avoid danger, the Chinese construction team also temporarily suspended construction to overcome the problem of increased project costs, adjust the construction methods, etc., and dispatched professionals with experience in detonation to assist in the work.

Pre-construction investigation, demining personnel are working in the uninhabited area of ​​the Mekong Peninsula. Picture from the WeChat public account “China Railway Eighth Bureau Report”

According to the 2019 China-Laos Railway Project Management Committee data, from January 2017 to 2019 During the construction of the China-Laos railway in July 2009, about 459 pieces of unexploded ordnance and more than 460 pieces of related debris were removed from the 2,931 hectares of land in the area.

The report also emphasizes that although this is only a drop in the bucket in front of the number of nearly 80 million unexploded bombs in Laos, and more funds and materials are needed to completely remove these “war legacy”, it can be seen from this that China’s “Belt and Road” cooperation can help. play a “substantive role” in the matter.

Tomorrow (January 3), the China-Laos Railway will usher in a “full moon”, and both passengers and cargo will be prosperous in this month.

According to statistics from the China Railway Kunming Bureau Group, as of December 31, 2021, the China-Laos Railway has opened 380 freight trains, carrying 150,000 tons of freight. The imported goods mainly include natural rubber, iron ore, and chemical fertilizers; the export goods mainly include vegetables, fruits, and mechanical and electrical products. In addition, the domestic section of the China-Laos Railway has transported 580,000 passengers.

As of December 20, the Laos section of the China-Laos Railway has sent a total of 22,000 passengers. Every day, many Lao people actively buy tickets, experience the positive changes brought by the China-Laos Railway to their work and life, and express their love and support for the railway with practical actions.

According to the Laos’ Vientiane Times, during the ride, the reporter found that many passengers would put paper cups on the small table and use their mobile phones to take a video of the water in the cups not spilling out, saying “ka ka ka” (Spoken Lao, meaning very good).

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua News Agency a few days ago, Vice President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Benle Luang Pase said that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which took effect on January 1 this year, is of great significance to promoting intra-regional free trade. The China-Laos Railway It will also play a greater role.

On January 1, the first international freight train of the China-Laos Railway in the new year departs from Xinhua News Agency

However, even if this is an innovation that cannot find faults and win many, the smears of the West are never absent.

In Laos, the United States dropped 2 million tons of bombs, and China left 1,035 kilometers of railways. However, the US media can still continue to smear China, claiming that “the China-Laos railway has put Laos in a debt trap”, and even worried that Laos will become more and more economically dependent on China, resulting in being “politically bound” by China.

On the day when the China-Laos railway was opened to traffic, Tom Foddy, an expert in British international relations analysis, told the truth. He said the Western media is sending a strange message to Laos – “It is your friend who bombs you, but the enemy who builds your new railway for you”.

Tom Foday wrote in the article that such a statement is both insulting and disregarding the contemporary history of Laos. As anyone with knowledge of Laos history knows, the country to fear is the United States, not China. “It was the United States that dropped cluster bombs on Laos, which also led to the removal of unexploded bombs when building new railways today. How can the Western mainstream media be indifferent to such atrocities? How can they claim that China is a ‘real threat’ to Laos, while the United States and the Is its ally acting in Laos’ ‘real interest’?”

China helped Laos build a railway that would bring huge economic benefits, but was described by the West as an “evil and malicious railway”, while the fact that the United States dropped hundreds of millions of bombs was “forgotten”. He argues that the China-Laos railway provides a textbook example of how the Western media can distort facts and hide the truth, while ignoring stark realities.

On December 21, 2021, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in response to an inquiry at a regular press conference that the China-Laos Railway is a flagship project for the mutually beneficial cooperation and joint construction of the “Belt and Road” between the two countries. The China-Laos Railway has achieved tangible results.

Regarding Lao Prime Minister Pankan’s refutation of the outside world’s slander against the China-Laos Railway in an interview, he emphasized that the so-called “China-Laos Railway has caused Laos to fall into a debt trap” is a complete slander, saying that the China-Laos Railway meets the development needs of the Lao people and will greatly Promote people and trade exchanges and bring more well-being to the people. Zhao Lijian said that as Prime Minister Pankan said, the China-Laos railway meets the development needs of Laos. Laos has superior natural endowments and huge development potential. One of the main obstacles it faced before is that as a landlocked country, the transportation with the outside world is very inconvenient. “The fragrance of wine is not afraid of deep alleys”, the China-Laos Railway is to open up this deep alley, help Laos’ strategy of “locking the country into a land-linked country”, activating the vitality of Laos’ development, and shortening the distance between Laos and the world, so that everyone can not only smell, You can also drink a variety of “fine wines” from Laos.


Source: (Ruan Jiaqi)

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Maldives to experience rain nationwide on voting day





Meteorological Center (MET Office) has reported Maldives will experience rainfall nationwide on Sunday, amid the parliamentary election.

MET Office on Saturday forecasts heavy rainfall accompanied with thunder from Laamu atoll to Addu atoll. The authority also forecasts rainfall from central parts to northern atolls as well.

The weather authority also reported that the winds speeds will be between 5 to 15 miles per hour nationwide.

Despite rainfall nationwide, the seas would not be rough to interrupt sea transportation, MET added.

With many already traveling to their home islands to cast vote in the parliamentary election, the government has already announced Monday, April 22nd will be a public holiday as well.


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Middle East countries voice concern over military escalation after alleged Israeli attack on Iran





Countries in the Middle East have voiced their concern over military escalation in the region after Israel on Friday allegedly struck sites near the city of Isfahan, central Iran, in what appeared to be its military response to Iran’s recent retaliatory attack.

In a statement, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry called on the two sides to exercise the utmost restraint and to fully comply with the rules of international law and the UN Charter, warning against widening the conflict and instability in the region.

Egypt stressed that it will continue to intensify communications with all concerned and influential parties to contain the ongoing escalation and tension.

In addition, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the ministry “is constantly monitoring the tension in the region,” expressing its deep concern about the attack targeting Isfahan on Friday morning.

The ministry said that the escalation must not distract attention from the destruction and loss of innocent lives in the Gaza Strip, renewing its call on the international community to perform its duties and work to stop the suffering of the Palestinian people, according to the statement.

Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi on Friday stressed the need to reduce the dangerous escalation in the region and reiterated that “Jordan will not allow it to be turned into an arena of conflict between Iran and Israel and to endanger its security and the safety of its citizens.”

Safadi, who also serves as the Jordanian foreign minister, added on social media platform X that “the current escalation only serves to divert attention away from the Israeli aggression on Gaza, stopping which must be the priority.”

The Israeli attack came after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed Saturday that it had launched missile and drone attacks on Israel in retaliation for earlier airstrikes by Israel on April 1 on the Iranian consulate building in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which killed seven Iranians.

So far, Israel has not officially acknowledged the strikes on Isfahan, while Iran has not publicly accused Israel of carrying them out.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Foreign Ministry on Friday condemned the Israeli strikes on Syrian military sites earlier in the day as a flagrant violation of Syrian sovereignty and a threat to regional stability.

In a statement, the ministry warned that such actions could escalate tensions in the region, potentially leading to a broader conflict, and urged the international community, including the UN Security Council, to condemn the attack and take decisive measures to halt the “crimes” committed by Israel.

In the early hours of Friday, the Israeli military launched a series of airstrikes targeting Syrian air defense sites in the southern region, according to the Syrian Defense Ministry. The strikes caused material losses, while no casualties were reported, it added.

The attack was also confirmed by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported that more than six Israeli aircraft were observed flying intensively in southern Syria.

The radar battalion responsible for monitoring the airspace, located in the east of Syria’s Daraa province, was targeted, the war monitor added.

Source(s): CGTN

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This is a golden opportunity to cooperate with a government: President





President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu states this is a golden opportunity for a parliament that will cooperate with a government that wants to produce results.

Speaking at a meeting with Addu City constituents residing in Male’ City on Friday night, the President said his administration’s only focus is to produce results.

He described the upcoming parliament election as a golden opportunity for a parliament that will cooperate with a government that wants to produce results.

“My focus is on results, nothing else. It is results that the people want, is it not? The result of development and the result of stability, is that not what people have been wanting?” he questioned.

Speaking further, President Muizzu, underscoring the nation had not seen the desired number of changes in the past years, said his administration will not spend time on anything other than producing results.

“This is truly a golden opportunity. You are receiving a golden opportunity to pave the way for full cooperation necessary within the parliament to a government that is solely focused on producing results,” he said.

Citing the aforementioned reasons, he urged the public to vote for ruling PPM-PNC coalition’s candidates contesting in the parliamentary election slated for Sunday.

MDP has the largest number of candidates contesting this parliamentary election at 90 constituencies, followed by PPM-PNC coalition at 89 constituencies.

A total of 368 candidates are contesting for 93 constituencies.

Polling stations will be open from 8:00am to 5:30pm on Sunday; a decision made by the Elections Commission earlier today, which is undertaking final preparations for the election.


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