Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will leave Tuesday for a three-day official visit to China, aiming at fostering ties and promoting development cooperation at both government and business levels.
The official visit from April 17-19 is at the invitation of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to strengthen bilateral relations and upgrade strategic partnership and cooperation between Thailand and China.
High on the agenda is promotion of national development–in particular a high-speed train project, water management system development, renewable energy, human resources development, education and cultural cooperation as well as cooperation under the framework of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) comprising Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, and China’s Yunnan Province.
Prior to her departure, Ms Yingluck said her government has not yet decided about the high-speed train system.
The visit will be an opportunity to study China’s modern transport technology before a final decision is made as there are also many choices from other countries as well. “We will choose the best for the nation,” she said.
The Thai premier said executives from at least 100 companies executives have been invited to join the trip to discuss and exchange ideas with their Chinese counterparts.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin announced last week that Chinese leaders would meet for talks with Ms Yingluck on bilateral ties as well as international and regional issues of common concern.
The two countries are expected to ink a series of agreements, Mr Liu said.
Among key documents to be signed is an agreement to boost bilateral trade and investment. Thailand and China aim to increase their trade value by at least 15 per cent within five years, according to the Thai premier.
China is Thailand’s largest export market and second largest import source. China’s official news agency Xinhua cited Chinese customs statistics that the two countries trade volume hit US$64.7 billion in 2011.
“The government gives priority to Chinese market as China is one of Thailand’s major trade partners with excellent relationship
Ms Yingluck said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will lead a delegation to visit the People’s Republic of China to boost strategic cooperation and regional cooperation with China under the frameworks of ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Cabinet members joining the delegation include Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Ministers to the Prime Minister’s Office Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and Nalinee Taveesin, Transport Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Preecha Rengsomboonsuk, Minister of Information and Communication Technology Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, Education Minister Suchart Thada-Thamrongvech, and Industry Minister M.R. Pongsvas Svasti.
During the visit, several important documents between the two countries will be signed. Among them are the Agreement on Educational Cooperation, the second five-year Joint Action Plan on Thailand-China Strategic Cooperation for 2012-2016, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Agricultural Trade Cooperation, and a five-year development plan for 2012-2016 under the Agreement on Expanding and Deepening Bilateral Economic and Trade Cooperation.
Thailand and China will hold talks on investments in high-speed rail lines from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Bangkok to Nong Khai, Bangkok to Rayong, and Bangkok to Padang Besar. They will sign an MOU on the feasibility study of railway cooperation, as well.
The development of water management will be a major topic of discussion. During the severe floods in Thailand in 2011, the Chinese government donated flood relief supplies and dispatched experienced flood control experts to Thailand to offer useful advice to cope with the flooding situation.
China is one of Thailand’s major trading partners. Thai-Chinese trade amounted to 64.7 billion US dollars in 2011. Both countries are seeking ways to achieve the bilateral trade target of 100 billion dollars by 2015. Chinese tourists visiting Thailand in 2012 is likely to reach two million against 1.7 million recorded in 2011. Bangkok, Pattaya, and Kanchanaburi have been listed as popular tourist destinations among Chinese visitors to Thailand.
Thailand serves as coordinator for ASEAN-China relations in 2012 and it is regarded as China’s gateway to ASEAN. China is seen as a key player in helping the connectivity of the region and the formation of the ASEAN Community. The Thai government has a policy to promote transportation links between the two nations and other neighboring countries, especially those in the Greater Mekong subregion, which, part from Thailand, comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and southern China.