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Xi’s maiden Thai visit yields ‘positive dialogue’

Xi’s maiden Thai visit yields ‘positive dialogue’

BANGKOK: Thailand and China have signed a number of agreements to strengthen cooperation in e-commerce, investment, science and technology.

By Bangkok Post

Sunday 20 November 2022, 11:51AM

Thai-Sino ties: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Chinese President Xi Jinping make their way into Government House, flanked a guard of honour. Xi attended the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok which wrapped up yesterday (Nov 19).

Thai-Sino ties: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Chinese President Xi Jinping make their way into Government House, flanked a guard of honour. Xi attended the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok which wrapped up yesterday (Nov 19).

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday (Nov 19) welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping at Government House after Mr Xi attended the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Bangkok which wrapped up yesterday.

The two sides discussed a range of topics related to boosting bilateral ties and cooperation. Other Cabinet ministers were also present at the meeting, reports the Bangkok Post.

During Xi’s visit, the two sides signed a joint action plan on Thai-Chinese strategic cooperation between 2022 and 2026, as well as the Thai-Chinese cooperation plan jointly promoting the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Other cooperation documents in such fields as investment, e-commerce, and science and technology were also signed during the visit.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said after the meeting that this was Xi’s first official visit to Thailand as president, having come to the country as vice president in 2011.

“Therefore, this visit by the Chinese president was significant in terms of strengthening bilateral relations,” Anucha said.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Thai-Chinese comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and the countries are looking forward to the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2025, the spokesman said.

The Chinese president congratulated the prime minister for the success in hosting the Apec summit and said Thais and Chinese are close like a family, Anucha said.

“China is ready to work with Thailand to build a community with a shared future for prosperity, stability and sustainability,” Anucha quoted Xi as saying.

The two sides also discussed ways to boost security, particularly cybersecurity and dealing with transnational crimes, the drug trade, human trafficking and phone scams, as Prayut proposed more high-level dialogue between the governments.

The Chinese president also emphasised the need for implementation of the 2022-2026 joint action plan, emphasising that both must make the most of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and boost infrastructure and connectivity.

Xi also suggested the countries further work together to boost trade, investment and infrastructure development and praised Prayut for efforts to tackle poverty in Thailand.

A source added that Xi had extended an invitation to the Thai premier to visit and see for himself how China has brought wealth to the masses and improved their lives.

Saudis, Thais sign five agreements

Meanwhile, Prayut met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday, signing agreements to ties in trade and investment.

Diplomatic relations between the nations were restored earlier this year after a decades-old diplomatic rift.

The leaders presided over the signing of five agreements pledging to increase trade and investment between the two countries, promote tourism and deepen cooperation in energy. They will also explore ways to promote more direct investments, a Thai government spokesman said.

The energy pact will cover petroleum, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, renewable and low-carbon technology, the Energy Ministry said yesterday.

The agreement consists of two memoranda of understanding (MoU), the first of which covers a green hydrogen/ammonia project in Thailand. It will be carried out by the majority state-owned energy firm PTT Plc and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), along with Acwa Power Co of Saudi Arabia.

The second MoU between the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia and Egat Group covers various types of clean energy and energy transition.

Thailand is hoping that its improving relationship with Saudi Arabia could give it an economic boost.

Prayut held bilateral talks with the crown prince on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit. Saudi Arabia was invited as a guest of the Apec host country.

“Cooperation in trade, investment and labour is already underway,” government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said ahead of the meetings.

The two countries restored full diplomatic ties in January when Prayut visited the country at the invitation of the crown prince.

Saudi Arabia downgraded ties in 1989 following a row over the theft of about US$20 million (B716mn) worth of jewels by Kriengkrai Techamong, a Thai janitor working in the palace of a Saudi prince, in what became known as the “Blue Diamond Affair”.

A large number of the gems, including a rare blue diamond, were never recovered. The theft remains an unsolved mystery and was followed by the execution-style murder in Thailand of three Saudi diplomats.

“The restoration of ties has mutual benefits for both countries,” the crown prince said, adding that investment, infrastructure and public health were important areas.

“Overcoming the Blue Diamond issue is a net positive for both countries,” said Ben Kiatkwankul, partner at the Maverick Consulting Group.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to diversify the economy away from oil into industries like food and agriculture, which makes Thailand a good partner, he said, while Thailand stands to benefit from energy-related projects and medical tourism.

Since January, exchanges between the two countries have included an agreement between state-owned energy firms Saudi Aramco and PTT Plc for cooperation in carbon capture and crude oil sourcing.

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