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Xi congratulates new Thai king

By YANG HAN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-06 08:40
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn is crowned during his coronation in Bangkok, Thailand, May 4, 2019 in this still image taken from TV footage. [Photo/Agencies]

Vajiralongkorn's coronation ceremonies are the country's first in nearly 70 years

President Xi Jinping congratulated Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn on being formally crowned on Saturday.

On behalf of the Chinese government and people, and in his own name, Xi expressed in a message sincere congratulations and good wishes to the king and the Thai people.

The king is an old friend of the Chinese people and has been attending to and supporting the cause of friendship between the two countries for a long time, Xi said in the message.

"I attach great importance to the development of China-Thailand relations and stand ready to make joint efforts with you to carry forward the traditional China-Thailand friendship, deepen cooperation in building the Belt and Road jointly, and push forward the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries to make bigger headway," Xi said.

Xi wished the Kingdom of Thailand prosperity and the people happiness and good health.

Meanwhile, Thailand overflowed with the yellow color over the weekend as hundreds of thousands of Thais lined the streets under the scorching sun in Bangkok and cheered for the newly crowned king. The color is associated with the monarch and wearing yellow clothing shows people's support for the king.

The monarch is now known as King Rama X, the 10th king of the Chakri Dynasty founded in the late 18th century. He rode around the city in the royal palanquin on Sunday, fully dressed in golden fittings.

The procession started at 4:30 pm, but many people had arrived in the early hours of the morning and even the night before, hoping to reserve a good spot to see the king close-up.

"The majority of people in Thailand have never seen any coronation before," said Korn Dabbaransi, president of the Thai-Chinese Friendship Association. "So everyone looks forward to witnessing a coronation for the first time in their life."

Foreign tourists

Maimoonorh Hiermayer, in a yellow dress, traveled with her sister from Nonthaburi province, north of Bangkok, and squeezed into a line outside the checkpoint near the Grand Palace by the afternoon. She had first traveled from her home in Vienna.

"I feel very excited to see King Rama X," she said. "There will be no other country like Thailand where everyone in this country loves the king from the bottom of our hearts".

The ceremonies also caught the eye of foreign tourists. When planning for her nine-day trip in Thailand, Wang Yujie, 28, a project manager in a new energy company in Beijing, read online about the coronation and decided to stay in Bangkok during the weekend to witness the special moment. "It's going to be a special experience to see the grand ceremonies," said Wang.

Belgian tourist Tayaki Van Riel only heard about the coronation when she arrived in Bangkok on Saturday and put on a yellow top specially to see the procession. She was impressed by the massive crowds waiting to see the king.

"It is very special to see everybody in yellow, it is not like that in Belgium," said Van Riel, noting the ceremonies "overwhelming".

Vajiralongkorn, born on July 28, 1952, is the only son of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. After his father died in October 2016, he ascended the throne on Dec 1 of the same year and observed two years of mourning before the weekend's coronation.

The coronation ceremonies from Saturday to Monday are the first since King Bhumibol was crowned on April 21, 1950. Vajiralongkorn also granted his wife, Queen Suthida, a full royal title, though their marriage was announced only recently.

Dabbaransi, also a former Thai deputy prime minister, said: "The royal coronation is another ceremony that all 70 million souls of the Thai people have been waiting for."

Many locals spent Saturday, the first day of official ceremonies and religious rituals, watching live broadcasts of the event, another first in Thai history. The king sat on a golden throne under a nine-tiered umbrella to receive royal regalia including a gold-enameled, diamond-tipped, high-reaching crown weighing 7.3 kilograms.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said the role of the crown "will be key in restoring and ushering in some kind of a new normal, a new kind of political stability and balance". He added that the official enthronement will solidify kingship and enhance Rama X's aura as the new king.

"Rama X will lead this kingdom into a time of prosperity and peace for the people of this land," said Dabbaransi from Thai-Chinese Friendship Association, adding that the relations between China and Thailand will continue to be as close as a family since the friendship is time-tested.

Monday has been announced as a special national holiday for the three-day coronation. In the afternoon, the king is expected to grant a public audience on the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace to receive the good wishes of the people. After that, he will meet with members of the international diplomatic corps.

The final event in the process of the coronation will be the royal barge procession, scheduled to be held in October.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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