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Thai PM seeks out roots in Meizhou
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited his ancestral home in South China on Saturday, ending his three-day official visit as guest of Premier Wen Jiabao.
Thaksin took his son to visit the house where his grandfather once lived in Meixian County, Meizhou city in Guangdong, the province which is the ancestral home of many Thai-Chinese.
The house itself is more than 200 years old.
Greeted by traditional lion dancing and the smiling faces of the local villagers, Thaksin shook hands with Qiu Rongxiu, his 86-year-old aunt-in-law, who awaited Thaksin at the front gate of her traditional Hakka home.
Thaksin spoke to her and other family members in the local dialect before entering the house and sitting on the bed in the room where his mother once slept.
He said his mother often recalled her stay there.
The younger generations found their own way of communicating despite language barriers by photographing themselves in the courtyard.
Thaksin gave the thumbs-up to the Hakka cuisine he enjoyed and accepted a gift of local tea from the Chinese family.
At the end of the two-hour visit, Thaksin paid respects to his ancestors at the tomb of his grandfather's mother.
Thaksin's mother, Yindee Shinawatra, accompanied her father, Wang Chuan Cheng, her mother and six siblings on a visit to the Wangs' family home in 1939.
During the war, Yindee stayed at the house for two years,
She returned to Thailand after the war and one of her brothers, Wang Hong Xio, stayed on in the house.
Thaksin asked the Chinese embassy to help find the house. All he had was a picture of it taken in 1985.
The picture belonged to his grandfather's 94-year-old aide, and the search began with his son. This and other clues helped the Guangdong provincial authorities find the actual house where his mother lived.
Thaksin thanked the Guangdong government for its efforts, saying that his offspring could now clearly understand where their ancestors came from and where their hometown is.
"When the Chinese people see a Thai leader and so many entrepreneurs come to China to pay homage to the place where their ancestors once lived, they will understand that the Thais and Chinese are from one family, and they are relatives," said Thaksin in an interview with Xinhua prior to his China tour.
Thaksin said in the meeting with Huang Huahua, the Guangdong governor, on Saturday morning that Thailand and Guangdong have maintained economic and trade exchanges for a long time.
"The two sides should open their markets more to each other and expand exchanges," he said.
Huang agreed with Thaksin, saying Guangdong and Thailand have great potential for co-operation.
(China Daily 07/04/2005 page1)