A high-speed railway linking China to Laos is set to officially open on Friday, swinging open the doors to a landlocked country desperate to haul itself out of poverty and slotting into place a pivotal piece of Beijing’s belt and road plans for Southeast Asia.Constructed in five years using Chinese engineering and manpower for a total cost of some US$9 billion, the 1,000km-long railway from Kunming in China’s Yunnan province to the Laotian capital of Vientiane cuts through mountains and ravines…

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