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Xi confident of boost to China-ASEAN ties

Updated: 2013-10-07 07:24
By Wu Jiao in Bali, Indonesia and Zhou Wa in Beijing ( China Daily)

Thailand replaces Vietnam as coordinator until 2015

Beijing on Sunday called on Bangkok, the current cordinator between China and ASEAN, to play a positive role in deepening trust and cooperation between China and ASEAN as President Xi Jinping met Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on the sidelines of the APEC summit.

ASEAN has a coordination mechanism with major countries outside the organization and Thailand replaced Vietnam as the coordinator between China and ASEAN in 2012. It will perform the role until 2015.

"China-Thailand ties are an example for China-ASEAN ties," Xi told Yingluck.

 Xi confident of boost to China-ASEAN ties

President of Chile Sebastian Pinera smiles as he is surrounded by Chinese delegates waiting to take photographs with him, after his speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Sunday. Wong Maye-E / AP

"I am confident Thailand will fully play its role as China-ASEAN coordinator to push forward China-ASEAN trust and cooperation."

Xi said China attaches great importance to ties with Thailand, a key partner in the region.

The countries have solid political and economic links and enjoy "huge potential for further cooperation", Xi said.

Underscoring cooperation in high-speed rail development and water conservancy, Xi said these projects should be advanced as pilot programs as they concern connectivity and livelihoods and can be examples of China-Thailand friendship.

Yingluck spoke highly of the role China plays in the economic development of her country and other ASEAN members.

Thailand agreed on the basic principles China sets for China-ASEAN ties and will work together with China to boost cooperation and maintain peace and stability in the region, Yingluck said.

Thailand supports China's proposal to establish an investment bank to boost infrastructure construction in Asia, she added.

Zhang Yunling, a researcher on ASEAN studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said "as a key player and founder of ASEAN," Thailand sees the big picture and the general interests of the region.

Thailand has no disputes with China, it is neutral as a coordinator between China and ASEAN, Zhang added.

According to Zhang, China's large market plays a vital role in the economic development of ASEAN.

Chinese investments can also help the organization better fund infrastructure projects, which will improve connectivity among the Southeast Asian countries, he said.

Yingluck told Xi that her country would like to further strengthen cooperation with China, especially in trade, investment and infrastructure construction.

China and Thailand established diplomatic ties in 1975.

In 2012, the value of China-Thailand bilateral trade approached $70 billion, with Thailand as China's second-largest trade partner in ASEAN and a major source of rice and natural rubber. China is both the largest export market and also leading import source for Thailand.

China has recently become Thailand's top source of foreign visitors. According to Thai statistics, 2.8 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand in 2012. In the first six months of this year alone, about 2.3 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand.

Xi also met New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Sunday.

Key guaranteed Xi that his country will undertake the strictest measures to ensure the safety of dairy products exported to China, after a bacteria health scare involving a New Zealand company in August.

Key explained to Xi how New Zealand dealt with the case, while Xi told him that Beijing hopes Wellington will maintain strict standards of food hygiene and maintain the momentum in China-New Zealand trade cooperation.

On Sunday, President Xi also met his Chilean counterpart, Sebastian Pinera, vowing to further bilateral cooperation between their countries.

In his talks with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Xi said Beijing is ready to work with Canberra to forge a model relationship that transcends cultural, historical and social system differences.

The president said the two countries should strive to attain "substantial progress" in their negotiations for the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

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