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Thailand Aims to Further Enhance Strategic Partnership with China

The Thailand-China relations have been developed in a positive and constructive way since the diplomatic ties between the two countries were established 30 years ago, and now it is time to push it to a higher plane, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in Bangkok before his departure to China on the occasion of 30th anniversary of bilateral relations.  

"Things have developed in a very positive and constructive way, especially in the past four and a half years since I became the prime minister," Thaksin said in an exclusive interview with Chinese press at the government house.


On July 1, 1975, Thailand and China established diplomatic ties, a major decision made by leaders of the two countries at that time.


China is the first country among the permanent members of UN Security Council that gave us the honor to build strategic partnership with Thailand, said the prime minister.


He hoped that the two countries could boost their friendly relations to a higher level by setting up the vision of how to be good strategic partners and draw a joint plan of action.


"We want to move it forward in the area of international politics, security, economic cooperation and culture, and the issue is high on my agenda to discuss with my counterpart Wen Jiabao during my visit," he said.


In this year's general elections in Thailand, Thaksin was successfully reelected as the prime minister with a crushing victory, and formed the first ever single-party government in Thai history.


The Thai prime minister said he would like to talk about expanding the goods lists under the Sino-Thai Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to items apart from vegetables and fruits during his meeting with Premier Wen.


The FTA between China and Thailand took effect on October 1, 2003 slashing tariffs for fruit and vegetable flows between the two countries. Since then, bilateral trade volume has rocketed in the way of mutual beneficial to the two peoples.


Thaksin said that Thailand may have to compete with China in some areas, but competition is not something that is a threat. Chinese products can force other countries to be more efficient and productive in manufacture, "so it is an opportunity rather than a threat," he added.


Speaking of the 2nd Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) leadership summit to be held in China's Kunming City this July, Thaksin noted that the subregion, which covers six countries and more than 250 million population, will not prosper without economic cooperation and joint development of the countries involved.


On November 3, 2002, leaders of six countries sharing the Mekong River gathered in Cambodia for their first summit, mainly to promote economic cooperation.


Thaksin emphasized the role of China and Thailand in driving the GMS forward while calling for more investment in the region as most of the areas are still under-developed.


Initiated by the Asian Development Bank in 1992, GMS countries have worked together for closer economic ties by speeding up implementation of the GMS Economic Cooperation Program (GMS Program).


Social issues such as human-trafficking, drug-trafficking as well as transportation linkage, tourism, telecommunications will also be touched at the GMS summit, said Thaksin.


When asked about the view on regional cooperation in Asia, Thaksin said ASEAN and China have been good neighbors for many years through several forums and platforms.


Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), the only official dialogue and cooperation mechanism open to Asia, aims at integrating the present sub-regional cooperation and promoting dialogue and cooperation among its members.


"It has become the forum that indirectly softens the regional conflicts," said Thaksin with firm belief that the bloc will bring peace and prosperity to the region with concerted support from China, Thailand and other countries.


Born into a well-off Chinese-Thai business family in Thailand's northern city of Chiang Mai, Thaksin said he would visit the town in China's Guangdong Province where his mother used to live during WWII.


Besides government officials, more that 200 businessmen from the private sector will also be on the trip with the Thai prime minister. They will visit Shantou, the home town of ancestors of many of them.


"When Chinese people see Thai leader and so many entrepreneurs come to China to pay homage to the place where their ancestors have ever lived, they will understand that Thais and Chinese are from one family, and they are relatives," said Thaksin.


(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2005)

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