The 'Made in China' label, once scorned in Laos, is now coveted. 'About eight years ago, the quality of Chinese products sold in Laos was so bad that they had an infamous reputation,' said Peng Zhenghua, a Chinese businessman who has lived in the capital, Vientiane, since 1993. 'Many people found that Chinese food they bought had already expired. Others complained their new washing machines and video players broke down after a few months' use. 'Laos people used to boycott Chinese products. Even me. I refused to buy them at that time. As a result, many shops selling Chinese products were forced to fold and Chinese businessmen faced a hard time during the period.' Mr Peng was speaking on the eve of the arrival of Premier Wen Jiabao in Laos for the third summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion. The change finally came when the central government weighed in, the Shanghai native and general secretary of the Vientiane Chinese Association said. 'In 2002 or 2003, the Chinese embassy in Vientiane gathered Chinese businessmen in the capital,' he said. 'In a bid to avoid further deterioration of the reputation of Chinese products, officials warned them to stop selling substandard goods immediately. 'As well, Chinese officers at border checkpoints tightened up on fake and bad-quality goods exported to Laos.' The moves quickly achieved the desired effect. 'From then on, motorbikes made in China gradually took over the Japanese market share because of their overwhelmingly low price,' Mr Peng said. 'For instance, a Japanese motorbike sells for US$1,200, while you can buy one imported from China for only US$500. 'Although the quality of Japanese products still gives them advantages, more importantly, people must consider whether they are affordable before buying them. 'People know how to choose. Nowadays, almost all Chinese products are welcomed by people in Laos. 'Kangjia and Changhong are well-known brand names for TV sets, Haier is famous for its refrigerators, while Meide may be the best-seller of cookers here.' Mr Peng's point of view is shared by China' ambassador to Laos, Pan Guangxue . 'Bilateral trade between China and Laos is experiencing its fastest growth period and Sino-Laotian ties are at their highest point in history,' Mr Pan said. In 1998, the volume of trade between the two countries was about US$28 million. 'Last year, bilateral trade volumes hit historical highs and reached US$249 million, more than twice as much as four years ago,' Mr Pan said. The governments of both countries were aiming for US$1 billion in the next few years. 'I definitely believe economic and trade co-operation will deepen, and political relations will strengthen between the two countries after Premier Wen's visit,' the ambassador said.