China, Thailand to tap more co-op opportunitiesUpdated: 2013-10-10 21:17
BANGKOK -- Thai business groups are putting up welcome banners on streets ahead of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's scheduled arrival on Friday in the Thai capital.
Li, who will take a three-day tour of the Southeast Asian country, arrives from Brunei after meeting with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The Chinese premier had proposed to build a "diamond decade" of the partnership with ASEAN, and an "upgraded version" of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, vowing to increase China-ASEAN trade to one trillion US dollars by 2020.
Thailand, which serves as the country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations, could make its ties with China a fine example of bilateral relations between ASEAN and another country.
China and Thailand agreed, during Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's visit to Beijing last year, to build a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
China is now the largest trading partner of Thailand, with bilateral trade reaching nearly 70 billion dollars last year and targeting 100 billion dollars by 2015. Thailand is China's second largest trade partner in ASEAN.
Bangkok has listed clean energy as a key cooperation area with China, which produces about 60 percent of global solar cells annually, with over 90 percent of them for exports.
It is also expecting Chinese participation in its high-speed railway projects. China now operates the world's most extensive high-speed railway networks.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan has said he expects Li's visit to "add some new contents" to bilateral cooperation.
The ever-expanding economic ties have been fueled by solid friendship between the two peoples. Thai Princess Sirindorn, who can speak Chinese, has contributed to people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
A Thailand-themed comic film, which has earned the most money to date in China's movie industry, has prompted swarms of Chinese tourists to the already hot travel destinations in Thailand.
Li's visit might help boost such a momentum of amity.
He will in the upcoming tour meet Thai leaders, address the Thai parliament, and oversee the signing of several cooperation deals.