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On July 1st, then Thai PM H.E. Kukrit Pramoj and then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signed the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Thailand in Beijing, China, which opened a new epoch for the relations between the two countries. Over the past 40 years, the two countries have witnessed continuously depended friendly exchanges. Former Thai Deputy Prime Minister and the President of Thai-Chinese Cultural & Relationship Council H.E. Phinij Jarusombat said in the interview with our magazine: “China-Thailand relations differ from that of the other countries. It is accepted by the leaders of both countries that ‘Jeen Thai Phee Nong Gan’ (China and Thailand are brothers.), which is a crowning achievement made between the two”.
Long-established People-topeople Exchanges
“Jeen Thai Phee Nong Gan” has profound historical origin. Over one thousand years ago, Chinese and Thai merchants traded with each other via the Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road, and many of the Chinese settled down in Thailand. Nowadays, overseas Chinese occupy a large proportion of the Thai population. Mr. Phinij Jarusombat said, “I’m an overseas Chinese. Several decades ago, my family moved to Thailand from Shantou, China”.
These historical ties have nutured cultural affinity, which brings the people of two countrie closer. “At the beginning when China and Thailand established diplomatic relations, the annual number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand was only tens of thousands, but the number reached over 3 million this year”, said Phinij Jarusombat. With such growth momentum, the number would top 5 million by the end of this year.
Constant people-to-people exchanges have increased the popularity of the Chinese language in Thailand. Phinij Jarusombat said, “In history, there was a period of time when Chinese schools are prohibited. Now, they are found everywhere. People in Thailand are high on learning Chinese, starting the fervor for the Chinese language learning. Exchanges of teachers and scholarship offering have also witnessed rapid development”. “We can say that no matter how many scholarships China could offer, it still could not meet the huge demand of Thai students. The exchanges in science and technology are also increasingly deepened, which can be seen in the friendly mutual visits between universities and colleges of science and technology”, Phinij Jarusombat explained.
Speaking of the cultural and people-to people exchanges between China and Thailand, the Thai-Chinese Cultural & Relationship Council has played a big role in it. Phinij Jarusombat said, “Thai-Chinese Cultural & Relationship Council has carried out over 30 cultural exchange activities with China’s provinces and cities since it was founded over one year ago. This year, we have successfully held the T-ONE Muay Thai Championship at Beijing Olympic Sports Center, which is in celebration of the 40th anniversary of China-Thailand diplomatic ties. On July 18, we have also held a largescale painting and calligraphy exhibition with the Chinese Culture Center in Bangkok and Chinese Embassy in Thailand”.
According to Phinij Jarusombat, the past 40 years’ development between China and Thailand benefits the people of both sides and brings them happiness. The friendly relations between the two countries develop so smoothly and go far beyond the expectations. During this 40 years, many sister cities were established between the two countries. Based on this, Thailand could build more consulates in China, which is of great significance to the exchanges between provinces and cities of the two countries.
Rapid Development in Connectivity
Connectivity construction between China and Thailand continues to develop. Phinij said,“Kunming-Bangkok Expressway has facilitated the trade between the two countries. During Chinese festivals, many Chinese travelers choose to make road trips in Thailand, which had never happened before. Waterway transport of the Mekong River has also developed very fast, and there are fixed ship routes between China’s Jinghong and ports along the Menam River of Thailand”.
Air transportation has also witnessed dramatic development, with numerous direct flights being opened between cities. “In the past, direct flights were only opened between Thailand and China’s Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Nowadays, all medium-sized Chinese cities enjoy direct flights with Thailand”, said Phinij.
With the upsurge of the building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Thailand, the hub of the ASEAN region, plays a crucial role in the construction. “Thailand and China are bound to enhance maritime cooperation, both in hardware and software, including maritime transportation and maritime science and technology etc.”, said Phinij. “Seaway transportation between our two countries develops very fast. In the past, only China’s Hong Kong, Shantou and Guangzhou etc. had been opened to navigation with Thai ports. Nowadays, cities like Shanghai and Qingdao have also opened routes to Thailand”. On July 17 this year, China’s Wuhan opened port service to Bangkok, Thailand. “We had never imagined that an inland city like Wuhan could open seaways to Thailand. The construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road has really brought huge opportunities for Thailand and China”, said Phinij.
At the same time, as the railway project between China and Thailand was finalized, one can go to Thailand from China by way of Laos and Myanmar, or even go to countries like Malaysia. “By that time, we can go to Beijing by high-speed train”, said Phinij. “Thai fruits and rice are exported to China in quantity. Due to the limitation of transportation, stock-out occurs occasionally. After the railway is completed, goods transportation between the two countries would be greatly boosted”.
Mr. Phinij also spoke highly of China’s high-speed rail technology. He said, “In terms of technology and safety, Chinese high-speed rail is nip and tuck with Japanese high-speed rail, but cheaper than the Japanese one. So, it enjoys high performance cost ratio”.
“I’ve taken the high-speed train in China for several times and felt very good. I think it is a very wise choice made by Thailand to cooperate with China. It is not only the voice of Thai people, but the people of the entire ASEAN region”, expressed Phinij. “The railway between Thailand and China is part of the Trans-Asian Railway, which traverses Southeast Asia and reaches India and even the European countries like Russia”.
CAEXPO as a Big Stage for Close Cooperation
Mr. Phinij has ever participated in the CAEXPO which has left a deep impression on him. He said, “The CAEXPO provides a big stage for face-to-face negotiations and brings tangible advancement in cooperation, including both governmental and non-governmental cooperation. It can be said that the CAEXPO has set up a big platform for exchanges and cooperation for all the ASEAN countries”.
On April 2, 2015, the CAEXPO Thai Exhibition, which was the CAEXPO’s first-ever overseas exhibition, was held in Thailand and attended by Mr. Phinij, who stated that “The CAEXPO’s overseas exhibition plays a very important role in further expanding its influence in the ASEAN region and strengthening the trade and cultural cooperation between China and the ASEAN countries”.
During this joint media interview in Thailand, many ASEAN enterprises, especially those SMEs, claimed that they have a great mind to attend the CAEXPO, but there is a shortage of booths. This was confirmed by Mr. Phinij, who further explained that “Nowadays, many Thai enterprises want to attend the CAEXPO, but failed to get a booth. Thailand is the Country of Honor of this year’s CAEXPO, which would be attended by Thai high-level officials, as well as Thai enterprises and art troupes. It would be a grand and hilarious meeting”.
The role the CAEXPO plays in promoting the cooperation between China and ASEAN, as well as between China and Thailand cannot be underestimated. Apart from that, Mr. Phinij expressed, Thailand and China should carry out more pragmatic cooperation in economy, tourism and trade. Business negotiations between entrepreneurs of both countries could be organized each year to solve the problems Thailand and China have met and better promote the bilateral trade between the two, with the aim of achieving the goal of reaching $100 billion US dollar trade volume in 2016.
2015-09-07 10:45:40