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China is "sincerely happy" to see Thailand's achievements, in spite of the flooding disaster of 2011 and the financial crisis, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday.
He made his comments as he visited the once chaos-torn country during the first official visit of a Chinese premier in more than a decade.
Wen said China will support and cooperate with Thailand in accordance with the five-year plan of economic cooperation. The two countries will forge cooperation on infrastructure development, agriculture, investment and Mekong development schemes, he said.
"Development in Thailand not only brings benefit to the Thai people, but it would be a good condition for relations between Thailand and China," Wen said.
"It is China's pleasure to cooperate with Thailand to help each other to coordinate also on regional affairs, especially to promote relations between China and ASEAN for the peace and prosperity of the region."
Chinese experts said the stable situation in Thailand since Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra took office in 2011 has not only benefited the country, but helped develop its huge potential for political, business and cultural ties with Beijing.
"China and Thailand have been friendly neighbors since ancient times, while the two peoples have close contacts and a deep friendship," Wen said at a joint news conference with Yingluck after their meeting.
There are nearly 10 million ethnic Chinese living in Thailand.
Luo Yongkun, a researcher of Southeast Asian studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said a memorandum of understanding on the rice trade China signed with Thailand during the visit is just the latest round of support from Beijing to Bangkok.
"In the 1997 financial crisis, we promised not to depreciate the yuan, strongly upholding the economy of Thailand and the whole of Southeast Asia," Luo said, adding that the integration of the East Asian economy accelerated from then on.
"Such cases are common in the long history of China-Thailand ties," he added.
Ties between the two nations did not develop much amid the political chaos in Thailand after former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra stepped down in 2006, he said.
ThoughWen's visit is the first by a Chinese premier in more than a decade, leaders have met frequently at multilateral events. Yingluck visited China in April, forging a comprehensive strategic partnership.
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The Nation and ANN contributed to this story.
(China Daily 11/22/2012 page12)