Thailand welcomes stronger China-ASEAN strategic partnership: Thai acting FM

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Thailand welcomes stronger strategic partnership between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is now entering into the second decade, Thai acting Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangketkeow said here Saturday.

He made the remarks at a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi after the ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting held as part of the ongoing 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) in Myanmar's capital of Nay Pyi Taw.

Describing ASEAN's relations with China as very comprehensive, Sihasak said that Thailand also welcomes the fact that the Chinese side has come up with a number of concrete proposals and ideas to strengthen this strategic partnership.

The proposals are important to strengthening connectivity which needs more integration, he said.

He also said Thailand welcomes the establishment of an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as proposed by China, adding it is a very constructive initiative and Thailand wishes to be its member.

The Thai official agreed with the upgrading of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), saying this will not only promote free trade between ASEAN and China, but also help advance the negotiation on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ( RCEP).

He said Thailand welcomes China's proposal of 21st century maritime Silk Road, as much of the region's trade, investment and commerce ultimately depends on sea connectivity.

ASEAN looks forward to working together with China to implement the proposal, he added.

According to Sihasak, ASEAN is confident in moving forward the strategic partnership with China in the next decade, which was described as "diamond decade" by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Noting that ASEAN-China partnership constitutes one of the pillars of regional peace and stability, the minister said ASEAN wishes to work more closely together with China to promote a peaceful external environment for economic development.

With regard to the issue of South China Sea, he said ASEAN wants to advance full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) , while also advancing official consultation on the Code of Conduct (COC).

ASEAN hopes the next round of consultation on drafting the COC to be held in Thailand by October. Endi

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