Bac Ninh strengthens friendly cooperation with Houaphanh province, Lao PDR

Following the guidelines of the Party and the State, Bac Ninh province signed with Houaphanh province, Lao PDR a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of friendly cooperation on April 5, 2012.

The pure and faithful tie of great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries of Vietnam and Laos is hardly found in the world. Lao President Kaysone Phomvihan affirmed: "Mountains may erode, rivers may dry up, but the friendship between Laos and Vietnam will be more stable than mountains, more long lasting than rivers". As stated by President Ho Chi Minh: “Vietnam and Laos, our two countries have a friendship deeper than the Hong Ha and Cuu Long rivers”. Over 60 years, two countries’ ties in all fields such as politics - foreign affairs, defense - security, economy, culture - society have sharply developed, bringing valuable results to the people of the two countries.

Along with the comprehensive state-level cooperation, forms of sistership between localities of the two countries have also been continuously expanded in various fields, contributing to promoting people-to-people diplomacy, tightening the long-standing friendship between the people of the two countries, meeting the tasks of political, economic and social development of each side. Following the guidelines of the Party and the State, Bac Ninh province signed with Houaphanh province, Lao PDR a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of friendly cooperation on April 5, 2012.

Known as a poor and mountainous province located in the northeast of Laos, Houaphanh has a population of nearly 320,000 people with 10 districts and 729 villages on an area of 16,500 km2. Sharing border with 03 provinces of Vietnam including Son La, Thanh Hoa, and Nghe An, Houaphanh is occupied with more than 90% of forests and mountains. The per capita income is about VND 27 million/year, the economic growth rate is 3.41%. Agriculture and forestry account for 53%, industrial sector accounts for 25%, while services account for 22% in the economic structure. In the past time, several socio-economic goals have not been achieved as planned due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the escalated prices of goods, gasoline and raw materials, making people’s life difficult.

Tỉnh Bắc Ninh và tỉnh Hủa Phăn, nước CHDCND Lào ký kết Bản ghi nhớ hợp tác giữa hai địa phương giai đoạn 2022 - 2025.
Bac Ninh province and Hua Phan province, Lao PDR signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two localities for the period of 2022 - 2025.

Based on the Memorandum of Understanding between the two localities, Bac Ninh has carried out a wide range of exchange of high-level delegations and provided Houaphanh in socio-economic infrastructure construction and human resource training.

(1) Regarding the exchange of high-level delegations:

Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bac Ninh province dispatched 03 high-level delegations to visit and work in Houaphanh province, including a delegation led by Mr. Tran Van Tuy, Member of the Party Central Committee, Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, Head of the Provincial Delegation of National Assembly Deputies in April 2012; a delegation led by Mr. Nguyen Nhan Chien, Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, Chairman of the People's Committee of Bac Ninh Province in March 2014; and a delegation led by Mr. Nguyen Huu Quat, Standing Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee in July 2017.

Houaphanh province also annually organized high-level delegations led by the Secretary cum Governor, Deputy Governor, and other delegations of the province to visit and work with leaders of Bac Ninh province. Through the exchanges, the two sides discussed and fulfilled cooperation activities, affirming the good traditional relationship between Vietnam and Laos in general and the two localities in particular and the wish to continue strengthening the cooperation, support, and experience sharing in socio-economic development.

(2) Regarding aid for infrastructure construction and socio-economic development:

In 2012, Bac Ninh province provided Houaphanh with VND 10 billion to build a school in Meuang Xoi commune. In 2014, Bac Ninh continued to provide a budget of VND 06 billion to complete a number of school construction items together with 20 sets of computers and 01 wide-screen TV to the school.

In 2017, as approved by the Prime Minister, Bac Ninh province granted Houaphanh province VND 91.4 billion (equivalent to USD 3.93 million) to build the provincial Great Hall. Built in the center of the province with modern Lao architectural style, the building has a usable area of more than 3,700 m2 with 9 functional rooms including a 900-seat meeting hall. Completed in 2020, the Great Hall ensures high technical and artistic quality, meeting the political tasks of Houaphanh province.

At the local level, based on the Memorandum of Understanding on friendly cooperation signed on April 12, 2019 between Bac Ninh city, Bac Ninh province and Xam Neua district, Houaphanh province, Bac Ninh city sponsored to build a high school worth VND 03 billion in Phonexay village. Kicked off and completed in 2021, it is a 1-storey building consisting of 04 classrooms, 1 office, and 2 auxiliary rooms, meeting the teaching needs of the district while facing the lack of educational buildings and facilities.

In the period 2012 - 2022, Bac Ninh province has supported a total of more than VND 110 billion for Houaphanh to build infrastructure works.

(3) Regarding educational cooperation:

Since 2012, Bac Ninh has granted 45 scholarships from the provincial budget (divided into 3 batches, 15 scholarships each in 2013, 2015, and 2017) for the students of Houaphanh province to study at the Teacher Training College and Kinh Bac University.

Over the past time, the relationship between Bac Ninh and Houaphanh provinces has been built and developed on the basis of the traditional friendship, solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries, paid special attention to by the Party, State and people of the two countries. However, due to the gap in natural conditions and socio-economic development, the two localities’ ties have mainly been the support from Bac Ninh to Houaphanh for infrastructure construction, human resource training, no more new forms. Specifically, in 2020 and 2021, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, delegation exchanges and cooperation activities between the two provinces must be postponed.

In 2022, Vietnam and Laos celebrate the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations (September 5, 1962 - 2022) and the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Laos-Vietnam Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation (July 18, 1977 - 2022). Therefore, at the invitation of the Secretary cum Governor of Houaphanh province, Lao PDR and with the consent of the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Bac Ninh province sent a delegation led by Chairwoman of the Provincial People's Committee Nguyen Huong Giang to Lao PDR from 20 to June 24, 2022.

As part of the work trip, on June 21, 2022, Bac Ninh province and Houaphanh province held talks and signed a cooperation agreement for the 2022-2025 period, organized the ceremony for the hand-over of the Great Hall to Houaphanh province and the Phonexay high school to Xam Neua district, and performed a folk art exchange program. In addition, the delegation visited and worked with the Vientiane Capital Government to seek and expand cooperation activities between the two localities, and organized folk art performances with Vientiane city attended by representatives from Lao agencies and the Vietnamese community in Laos.

Đồng chí Nguyễn Hương Giang, Phó Bí Thư Tỉnh Ủy, Chủ tịch UBND tỉnh Bắc Ninh và Đòng chí Văn Xay Pheng Xum Ma, Bí thư - Tỉnh Trưởng tỉnh Hủa Phăn, nước CHDCND Lào cắt băng khánh thành công trình Hội trường lớn tỉnh Hủa Phăn do tỉnh Bắc Ninh tài trợ.
Mrs. Nguyen Huong Giang, Deputy Secretary of the Bac Ninh Provincial Party Committee - Chairwoman of the Provincial People's Committee and Mr. Van Xay Pheng Xum Ma, Secretary - Provincial Governor of Houaphanh province cut the ribbon to inaugurate the provincial Great Hall sponsored by Bac Ninh province.

The work trip of Bac Ninh province in Lao PDR has well accomplished its purposes with practical effects and contributed to further promoting the friendly cooperative relationship with Lao localities, including Houaphanh province. The art exchange programs attracted a large number of audiences, and received enthusiastic cheers from the leaders and people of Laos as well as the Vietnamese community in Laos, while on the other hand, help to promote the unique values of Bac Ninh culture, especially Quan Ho folk songs in Laos.

Thoroughly grasping and implementing guidelines of leaders of the Party and State of the two countries, in the coming time, Bac Ninh province will continue to maintain good bilateral relations affirming the pure and faithful solidarity of Vietnam - Laos and Bac Ninh - Houaphanh, and to implement specific cooperation activities under the Cooperation Agreement for the period of 2022-2025 such as:

- Strengthening the exchange of delegations; information and experiences on the construction of Party, political system, socio-economic development, security - defense.

- Supporting Houaphanh to promote foreign investment in the province, and calling for Bac Ninh’s enterprises to invest in Houaphanh for economic development and living standards improvement of Houaphanh people.

- Continuing to support the infrastructure construction for Houaphanh upon Houaphanh’s specific proposal as well as Bac Ninh’s budget capacity and the approval of Vietnam’s competent authorities.

- Continuing the human resource training by granting a maximum of 15 scholarships annually for Houaphanh's students to study at public colleges in the province.

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