937 words - April 27, 2012 - Writing by Shawnna Robert; Editing by Charles Rault | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
Ms Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand, visited China last week to discuss the countries' bilateral relations. In her visit, Shinawatra expressed her appreciation for the Chinese Communist Party's successful management development of the Chinese government. Thailand itself is working to adjust its own balance of power both politically and economically. She said that her government will keep pushing towards national reconciliation to create trust among Thais and foreigners. This will help Thailand to reach its full potential. She said that Thailand is ready to support China in wielding its influence in the region. In July, 2012, Thailand offers its service as a coordinator between ASEAN and China, where it will promote mutual benefit among the ASEAN countries by employing sincerity, straightforwardness, and respect.
Thailand wishes to promote employing the ASEAN-China framework in order to promote the East Asia Community, connectivity, and establishing regulations on South China Sea. In discussing the future of Thai-Chinese relations, Shinawatra noted that after the 2010 upgrade in their diplomatic relationship to a strategic partnership: high-speed rail, renewable energy, and water management cooperation projects followed. Shinawatra said both parties need to closely conduct a strategic discussion with each other by relying on the 37-year friendship between Thailand and China. They should employ the ASEAN cooperation framework to address regional common challenges such as maritime security, piracy, terrorism, natural disaster management, and narcotics. Considering China's "Go South" and "Go Global" policies, Thailand feels its location is strategic in connecting China with ASEAN partners.
Shinawatra met with business leaders in China to discuss the steps Thailand is taking to promote investment in Thailand's basic infrastructure, thus strengthening Thai-Chinese cooperation in the future. Target industries include: automobile, electronics, machineries, processed agricultural products, and renewable energy. Target products include: natural rubber products, auto parts, clean energy such as solar, water, biogas and wind. A number of businesses expressed interest in investing in Thailand and reiterated their investment plans worth a total of $2.1 USD billion. Some businesses will be ready to invest in the near future. A total of 8 memorandums of understanding or agreements were signed between Thailand and various companies.
Chinese President Hu Jintao returned the kind sentiments of the Thai leader, saying that China and Thailand always trust and help each other no matter the states of international nor domestic situations. He encouraged the countries to take the opportunity to build a well-rounded strategic cooperative partnership and to expand bilateral trade and mutual investment. Hu also pushed for cooperation on defense security and law enforcement, along with increased cooperation in regional and international affairs.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan noted that China is Thailand's largest export market and second largest source of investment. Also, Thailand is China's second largest trading partner among ASEAN countries. The two countries economies are highly complementary and the two countries enjoy a solid foundation for cooperation. The comprehensive strategic partnership opened a new page in bilateral relations. He stressed that both countries must first manage its own affairs well while also seriously implementing the five-year plan for economic and trade cooperation.
Vice President Xi Jinping said that there is neither issue left from history nor conflict of real interests between the two countries. Together they have played an important role in safeguarding regional peace, stability, and prosperity. China hopes Thailand maintains political stability and economic growth, and that the Thai people continue to live and work in peace and contentment. He hailed Shinawatra's visit as a milestone in Chinese-Thai relations as its numerous resulting agreements will reinvigorate bilateral ties.
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Wu Bangguo said that the NPC thinks highly of the friendly relations with the Thai parliament and expects the frequent and wide exchanges between the bodies to continue.
As a result of Shinawatra's visit, both sides agreed to bolster their strategic partnership cooperation in all aspects, but most especially in the four main project areas that will support sustainable development: tablets procurement, hi-speed rail lines, clean energy, and water management. In addition, Thailand and China agreed to increase trade by 20% per year, investment by 15% in the next 5 years, and tourism by 20% in the next 5 years. Both countries are in the process of setting up a Thailand-China agricultural products working committee which will serve as a negotiating mechanism to increase trade on agricultural products such as rice, natural rubber, cassava and fruit. They agreed to support public-private and government-private partnerships in the exploration and production of oil in third countries. China offered Thailand a $400 USD million loan. Thailand agreed to consider the offer.
Shinawatra and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao signed 8 strategic cooperation agreements instead of 10 as initially planned. These agreements include:
1. The Joint Action Plan on Strategic Cooperation
2. The Five-Year Development Plan on Trade and Economic Cooperation
3. The Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural Trade Cooperation
4. The Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation
5. The Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Feasibility Study for Cooperation on Railway Development
6. The Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Feasibility Study for Cooperation on Water Management
7. The Agreement on Establishment of a Joint Laboratory for Climate and Marine Ecosystem
8. The Joint Statement on Establishing a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership
Additionally, Shinawatra and Chinese Vice President Li Jin Ping witnessed the signing of 6 more agreements:
1. The handover Certificate for flood assistance
2. The Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation for Sustainable Development
3. The Agreement on the transfer of convicts
4. The Plan of Action on Cultural Cooperation for 2011 to 2013
5. The Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Cooperation
6. The Bilateral Swap Agreement for currencies
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