China, Thailand discuss boosting trade ties and regional cooperation

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) meeting Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on July 5, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK - China and Thailand reaffirmed political and economic ties in an official meeting between their foreign ministers, who also agreed on the need to promote mutual cooperation in a fast-changing world.

"Although the situation around the world is in chaos and constantly changing, the relationship between China and Thailand has always been strong and sustainable," said China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday (July 5) in Bangkok.

His meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai was a follow-up to the latter's China trip in April, when they discussed advancing all-round cooperation and boosting trade and infrastructure growth.

During Tuesday's meeting, the two leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues, such as revitalising their economies affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, cooperation on multilateral platforms and cyber-security issues.

They also highlighted the need for each country to complement the other's economic development strategies, specifically through projects such as China's Belt and Road Initiative and Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor.

One of the goals is to connect China, Laos and Thailand and build an economic corridor, said Mr Wang.

The China-Laos Railway, which was launched in December last year, has facilitated the export of Thai agricultural goods to China, and the planned expansion of the railway all the way to Bangkok will establish more cross-border travel and trade.

The Chinese minister's visit to South-east Asia this week is seen as Beijing's response to Washington's recent diplomatic and economic outreach to the region.

Mr Wang also paid a courtesy call to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and they discussed the growing cooperation between the nations, among other issues.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership between Thailand and China.

Mr Prayut thanked China for responding to Thailand's request to facilitate the import of Thai agricultural products and said that trade between the countries grew by more than 20 per cent in the first four months of the year.

Earlier this year, Thailand faced difficulties exporting goods to China because of the latter's zero-Covid-19 policy which imposed stringent checks at border crossings.

Mr Prayut also invited China to consider increasing its investments in Thailand, especially through the Eastern Economic Corridor, which it hopes will facilitate trade and innovation.

Mr Wang conveyed China's support for Thailand as this year's host of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) conference in November, adding that he hopes it will help develop free trade in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Wang's tour of South-east Asia from July 3 to 14 also took him to Myanmar, and will include visits to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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