By Sun Guangyong
“As the leader of a major country and a major political party, Chinese President Xi Jinping has not only made remarkable achievements in governance, but cared deeply about humanity,” Sommad Pholsena, vice president of the National Assembly of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, told People’s Daily in a recent interview.
His father, Quinim Pholsena, was an important promoter of and witness to the China-Laos friendship. Before China and Laos established diplomatic relations, Quinim Pholsena, then Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Laos, visited China for many times. He became close friends with the older generation of leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC), including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Chen Yi, and contributed significantly to the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Laos.
In the 1960s, Sommad Pholsena and his siblings studied at the Beijing Bayi School, where they became schoolmates of Xi, and forged a friendship with him that has lasted for over half a century.
Sommad Pholsena vividly remembers his meetings with Xi. “Xi visited Laos as vice president of China in 2010. He only stayed in Laos for about one day during the visit, and yet he spent over an hour meeting my family,” he said.
“He told us that he really looked forward to the meeting and was delighted to see us again after half a century. He remembered what kind of clothes we wore to school and what we liked doing at that time, which showed his sincere care about his old friends,” he added.
During his state visit to Laos in November 2017, Xi once again met Sommad Pholsena and his family. “It has been seven years since our last meeting. I’m really glad to see that you’re all in good shape and have a happy family,” Xi told Sommad Pholsena kindly.
Sommad Pholsena still remembers Xi’s expectations of them. “I hope you will continue devoting yourselves to deepening China-Laos friendship and encourage your children and grandchildren to carry forward our friendly ties so that the friendship between the two peoples will last forever,” Xi told them.
“President Xi has always cared about us old schoolmates, which made us feel warm and moved,” he said.
During the meeting, Sommad Pholsena and his family also asked Xi to sign their copies of the Chinese and English editions of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, a three-volume collection of speeches and writings by Xi.
“Laos, which has entered a period of innovation and development, has the same ideals, beliefs and social systems as China. We have always wanted to learn from China’s governance experience, so Xi’s books are really helpful,” Sommad Pholsena pointed out.
Sommad Pholsena has Xi’s books neatly placed in his office. “After each volume was published, I would read it carefully immediately. Besides Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, other books about President Xi’s thoughts are also inspiring,” he said.
Sommad Pholsena and his family all think that Xi is easy-going and values greatly his friendship with others. “Every time I saw him, I felt closer to him; and every time I talked with him, I understood better his commitment to his people and nation,” he pointed out.
He was deeply touched by Xi’s remarks, “For the good of my people, I will put aside my own well-being.” In his association with Xi, Sommad Pholsena saw a CPC member who always puts the people in the most prominent place in his heart, always serves the people wholeheartedly, and always works hard for the people’s interests and happiness.
President Xi is concerned about the interests of people from various countries and endeavors to benefit the humanity, Sommad Pholsena pointed out.
The farsighted Chinese leader proposed jointly constructing the Belt and Road and building a community with a shared future for mankind, constantly contributing to world peace, development and prosperity, he stressed.
“We have felt personally the significance of building a community with a shared future for mankind in Laos. China will do well only when the world does well, and vice versa, as President Xi noted,” Sommad Pholsena said.
On Dec. 3, 2021, the China-Laos Railway was officially put into operation, bringing to Laos its first modern railway. Sommad Pholsena, who once served as minister of public works and transport of Laos, witnessed how the railway came into existence, from its planning, foundation laying, to construction and completion.
“In 2015, President Xi, together with Lao leaders, made a major decision to jointly build the China-Laos Railway. In fact, China wasn’t the first country that said it would help Laos build railways, but it was the only one that actually did it. It seems that only the Chinese people helped us so sincerely and only President Xi lived up to his words to assist us,” Sommad Pholsena said.
“The long-lasting friendship between our family and China is a great interpretation of the relationship between Laos and China, who are forever good neighbors, good friends, good comrades and good partners,” he pointed out.
“As an old friend of China, Laos, more than any other country, is happy for China over its achievements in development, hopes that China will grow stronger, and expects President Xi’s proposal of building a community with a shared future for mankind to be embraced by more people and the country to make greater contributions to promoting regional and world peace, stability, development and prosperity,” he added.