China's sustained and rapid economic growth and the expedited move toward a free trade area with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) spell broad prospects for economic and trade cooperation between China and Thailand, Chinese President Hu Jintao said in Bangkok on Saturday.
The strengthening of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will definitely infuse fresh vitality into the development of bilateral relations, Hu said in a speech delivered at a luncheon hosted in his honor at the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce by Thai-Chinese and Thais of Chinese origin.
Hu said the signing in June of an agreement between China and Thailand on scrapping tariffs on vegetables and fruits, concluded within the framework of the China-ASEAN free trade area, represents a milestone in the Sino-Thai economic and trade cooperation, and it will boost the progress of establishing a China-ASEAN free trade area.
Under the June agreement, which went into force on October 1, 188 kinds of farm products of the two countries enjoy zero tariffs in bilateral trade.
Hu praised the local Chinese community for their important contributions to the economic and social progress of Thailand and for their efforts in advancing Thai-Chinese friendship.
He also thanked them for their donations in spring to China when it was battling the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Hu said the precious understanding and support is an embodiment of the deep affection between the peoples of China and Thailand. The remarks were met with warm applause.
The Chinese president also briefed the participants at the luncheon on the situation in China, including the recent success of its first manned space flight. He said China will continue to work with the international community in the exploration of the universe and make its due contribution to peace and development of mankind.
Hu, who is here on a state visit, noted that he and King Bhumibol Adulyadej and other Thai hosts exchanged views and reached broad consensus on bilateral ties and other issues of common concern.
We have both agreed to push the Sino-Thai friendly cooperation to a higher level, he added.
Boonsong Srifuengfung, president of the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said China is in the middle of a new round of economic expansion following 25 years of great achievements in its reform and opening-up, and it represents an immense inspiration to tens of millions of overseas Chinese and people of Chinese origin.
He congratulated China on the success of its first manned space flight.
The Chinese president, who arrived here on Friday, will attend the 11th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic leaders' meeting scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. He will then pay state visits to Australia and New Zealand.
(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2003)