Thailand and China are moving to enrich friendship and cooperation in all areas, as China, in particular, has become one of the most important strategic partners for ASEAN.
The two countries will seek to further strengthen relations through discussions when Mr. Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, makes an official visit to Thailand on 20-21 November 2012, at the invitation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Thailand currently serves as the country coordinator of ASEAN-China relations, from July 2012 to July 2015. The Cabinet, during its meeting on 12 November 2012, approved Thailand’s contribution to financial support for the operation of the ASEAN-China Center.
The Chinese Premier will hold talks with Prime Minister Yingluck in a plenary meeting at Santi Maitri Building, Government House, at 10:30 a.m. on 21 November. Then both leaders will witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Kingdom of Thailand and the People’s Republic of China.
In the afternoon on the same day, Mr. Wen is scheduled to pays a courtesy call on General Prem Tinsulanonda, President of the Privy Council, and Air Chief Marshal Siddhi Savetsila and General Surayud Chulanont, Privy Councilors, at the Privy Council Chambers. He will be granted an audience with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital at 5:00 p.m.
On the occasion of this visit, Mr. Wen, together with Prime Minister Yingluck, will preside over the opening ceremony of the Chinese Cultural Center at 9:00 a.m. on 21 November. The Chinese Cultural Center is located on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok. Construction of the center began in 2010 and was completed in May 2012.
The center consists of a theater, an exhibition hall, a library, and classrooms to provide the public with Chinese cultural activities in Thailand, as well as training and information services. It aims to promote better understanding about Chinese culture, cultural exchange, and friendship between the two countries.
As Thailand is moving toward the ASEAN Community, more and more Thai students are interested in learning ASEAN languages and those of dialogue partners. As for the languages of ASEAN dialogue partners, Chinese comes first among the most popular languages for Thai students, followed by Japanese and Korean, according to the Office of the Basic Education Commission.
China and ASEAN started their dialogue in 1991. The ASEAN-China Center was officially opened in Beijing in May 2012 to promote ASEAN-China cooperation in trade, investment, tourism, education and culture, with active involvement of the private sector. As the country coordinator of the ASEAN-China relations, Thailand has pledged to work closely with China to promote ASEAN-China strategic relations and realize region-wide benefits.