Huge potential for China-Thailand cooperationUpdated: 2013-10-11 15:11
BANGKOK -- The China-Thailand relationship is at a new starting point and blessed with huge potential, Chinese ambassador to Thailand Ning Fukui has said.
Ning told Xinhua in an interview ahead of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the Southeast Asian nation that the two countries' comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, established in April 2012, was on the fast track of development.
"With joint efforts of the two governments and peoples, China-Thailand relations are standing at a new starting point. Their cooperation has huge potential and faces broad prospects," he said.
The ambassador said Thailand had made positive efforts to promote the sound and steady development of bilateral ties and acted as a coordinator between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Li is scheduled to arrive in Thailand on Friday for a three-day visit at the invitation of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. He will meet the Thai royal family and leaders of the government and the parliament for an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral ties and regional and global issues of common concern.
Li will also address the Thai parliament and have extensive contacts with Thai people.
Ning said it is widely acknowledged China and Thailand are one family and their long-standing ties set a fine example of good-neighborly friendship, featuring mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.
"The Thai people's amity with China is sincere and their desire to further expand the friendly ties is strong," the ambassador said.
Noting the two sides have maintained frequent high-level contacts and made remarkable progress in cooperation in a wide range of areas, Ning said further enhancing pragmatic cooperation represents a "strategic vision".
To that end, he put forward a three-point proposal.
First, leaders of the two countries should carry on the fine tradition of frequent high-level contacts, like relatives visiting each other.
Second, both sides should boost win-win cooperation in an all-round manner and further tap the potential to bring their cooperation to fruition.
On this point, China has become the No. 1 destination of Thailand's exports, the second largest source of its imports, and the largest source of foreign visitors to the country, while Thailand is now China's second biggest trading partner in the 10-member ASEAN.
Two-way trade between the two countries is expected to reach 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2015. To attain the goal, China and Thailand have agreed on four key areas of cooperation: railway construction, water management, clean energy and education. They have also inked a number of agreements on technology and maritime cooperation, according to Ning.
The ambassador put particular emphasis on the need to advance pragmatic cooperation in developing Thailand's infrastructure projects such as water management and railway construction.
"It will stimulate the economic growth of the two countries, bring benefits to the people, and contribute to the development of China-ASEAN relations," he said.
Ning's third point was that efforts should be made to deepen people-to-people exchanges, which serve as a bridge to connect the two peoples, enhance their mutual understanding and strengthen their bonds.
Ning called on both countries to step up cooperation in culture, education, tourism and youth exchange programs to ensure the friendship would be handed down from generation to generation.
In the next three to five years, said Ning, China would offer 15,000 government scholarships for students from ASEAN countries and allocate a special fund to promote people-to-people exchange and cement cultural cooperation with other Asian countries.