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China, Thailand to boost 'strategic relationship'
Publication Date : 18-04-2012
China and Thailand signed a series of deals yesterday, covering, among other sectors, agriculture and transport and elevated relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Calling Thailand "a trusted friend and partner", Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said deciding to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership carried great significance for the peaceful development of the two countries and East Asia.
Wen made the remarks during a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is on her first official visit to China after taking office in August.
The three-day trip was initially planned for November but was postponed because of severe flooding in Thailand.
Wen said China will continue to help the post-disaster reconstruction.
He also urged both nations to promote trade and investment cooperation, increase trade in local currencies, and reach the US$100 billion trade target by 2015.
Rail links, to boost the transport network between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, telecoms, science and culture, should also see enhanced cooperation, Wen said.
The signed agreements covered economics, trade, agriculture, flood control and drought relief and rail construction.
Guan Mu, China's ambassador to Thailand, said earlier that Thailand plans to buy 800,000 computer tablets from China, according to The Nation, a Bangkok-based English-language daily newspaper.
Guan said both countries are discussing investments in several high-speed rail lines in Thailand.
"In the next 10 to 15 years, Thailand will have road and rail connectivity with neighboring countries. It will totally change the country and greatly benefit Thailand," Guan was quoted as saying.
Yingluck thanked China for its help and support to Thailand in fighting floods, disaster relief and reconstruction.
China offered emergency humanitarian aid to Thailand during last year's flood, which included $1 million in cash remittances and $1.57 million worth of relief materials, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Thailand is ready to increase strategic communication with China and boost communication and cooperation in all areas, Yingluck said.
Thailand will complete judicial procedures concerning the killings of Chinese sailors on the Mekong River as soon as possible, and severely punish the criminals according to the law, she said.
Nine Thai soldiers are being held on suspicion of killing the Chinese sailors on the river in October.
China and Thailand, as well as Myanmar and Laos are patrolling the river following the incident.
Yingluck also said Thailand is ready to play an active role in promoting ASEAN-China cooperation and safeguarding peace and stability on the South China Sea.
Analysts said better Sino-Thai ties will not only benefit the two countries, but also Southeast Asia.
Zhou Fangye, an expert on Thai studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it's no surprise that the two countries elevated ties to the comprehensive partnership as they have cooperated in a number of areas.
Zhang Xuegang, an expert on Southeast Asian studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Yingluck's visit will boost ties and help prevent the ties being affected by changes in Thailand's political situation.
Zhang said the joint patrol on the Mekong River also needs to be expanded and include more countries, such as Cambodia.
Heading a 50-strong business delegation, Yingluck will meet Chinese and Thai businessmen on Wednesday.
She is due to meet President Hu Jintao today.
She is also scheduled to visit China's flood control and drought relief headquarters on Thursday before heading to the port city of Tianjin.
China is Thailand's largest export market and second-largest source of imports.
Chinese statistics show that trade hit $64.7 billion in 2011.