Border town in Yunnan thriving thanks to China-Laos Railway|Updated: May 30, 2023


Mohan town, once a far-flung town in Southwest China’s Yunnan province that borders Laos, is taking on a new profile as a smart, efficient, secure, law-based and green land port, and a highland of investment and international cooperation.

In May 2022, Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, took over Mohan, to facilitate Mohan internationalization and shape it into an international port city.

In 2022, Mohan saw its total volume of imports and exports topping 5.67 million tons, with a year-on-year growth of 58.2 percent. The total volume of foreign trade was 43.34 billion yuan ($6.29 billion), up 99 percent year-on-year.

This has been mainly attributed to the opening of the international China-Laos Railway in December 2021.

The 1,035-kilometer line that runs between Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, and Vientiane, the capital of Laos, leaves China via Mohan port.

The railway has attracted businesses and boosted trade.

The China-Laos Railway has invigorated economic and trade cooperation between China and related countries. The growing bilateral trade between China and Laos, for instance, saw an impressive increase of over 20 percent in 2022.

It has cut the transportation cost and improved the flow of goods between China and Laos, as well as among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The World Bank highlights that the freight cost from Vientiane to Kunming has dropped by 40-50 percent, while Laos's domestic routes have seen a 20-40 percent cost reduction. 

By May 16, 2023, the railway had transported 20 million tons of goods, including four million tons of cross-border goods such as electronics, photovoltaic items and fruit, since the China-Laos Railway started operating in Dec 2021.

More than 25 provinces in China have used its cargo services to transport near 2,000 types of goods to South and Southeast Asian countries. They have also received imported goods including metal ore, cassava and barley from the region.

The Mohan-Boten Cooperation Zone, a project aiming to promote trade, economic and industrial cooperation between China and Laos, brings together more industries to attain win-win co­operation and take greater strides in opening-up.

Zhao Zenglian, director-general of the General Administration of the Customs’ General Office, led a team to conduct research at Mohan Port on May 20.

This team was made up of representatives from the GAC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Immigration Administration. They met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Laos to discuss bilateral port operations. 

The research team was accompanied by Liu Hongjian, Party chief of Kunming, and Yang Bin, vice-governor Yunnan province, as they examined the Mohan-Boten Cooperation Zone. Their focus was on understanding the operations of the port, how to ensure smooth transportation, and to examine ongoing construction projects.

The team expressed their approval of the progress made in the construction and development of Mohan Port and the Mohan-Boten Cooperation Zone. They urged for the acceleration of the construction of the economic cooperation zone and the improvement of the port's operational efficiency and capacity.

The city allocated 40 million yuan in January to the Administrative Committee of the Mohan-Boten Economic Cooperation Zone to support the revision of urban development planning and the improvement of the urban profile of Mohan town.

To boost the development of the six border administrative villages, Kunming's five major urban districts and Anning city have established a cooperation mechanism to help with the development of the six villages along the border, launching an overall plan for each village.