Srettha hails progress with trade, tourism
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Monday he has extended an invitation to China’s President Xi Jinping to visit Thailand next year to mark the 50th anniversary of Thai-Sino relations.
Speaking after a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, whose four-day visit concluded on Monday, Mr Srettha said the two sides discussed further Thai-Chinese cooperation, including an agreement on mutual visa exemptions for nationals of the two countries.
He said the visa exemption agreement marks an elevation of friendly ties and trust between the two nations.
“As both countries are to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year, I have extended an invitation to Mr Xi to make an official visit to Thailand,” Mr Srettha said.
He said both countries hope to see growth in travel and tourism, with him anticipating an increase of flights to the pre-Covid level and Mr Wang urging Thais to travel and explore China’s rich culture.
Under the visa-exemption agreement, which takes effect on March 1, holders of valid, ordinary Thai passports and Chinese holders of passports for public affairs and ordinary passports will be exempt from visa requirements for entering, exiting or transiting the other country for up to 30 days.
Cumulative stays must not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period, except for the purposes of residing or engaging in employment, study, media activities or other activities that require prior official approval.
He said Thailand also affirmed the country’s support for China and the US to hold talks aimed at lowering tensions and hailed the recent meeting between top Chinese and US officials in Bangkok as historic and significant.
Mr Srettha said the idea of building factories to manufacture electric vehicles (EV), the development of the Thai-Chinese hi-speed rail system, and trade cooperation in the agricultural sector were also raised during the meeting.
When asked about a projected increase in trade value between Thailand and China, the premier said while he could not specify the figure, the trade value would definitely increase.
Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke on Monday provided a summary of the meeting between Mr Srettha and the Chinese foreign minister.
Mr Srettha voiced pleasure at the success of the mutual visa-free programme and expressed confidence that it would bolster trade and people-to-people relations, according to the spokesman.
The prime minister pledged to deepen bilateral ties and strengthen the strategic partnership and urged both sides to coordinate closely in organising activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
Mr Chai said Mr Wang expressed appreciation that Mr Srettha made China the destination of his first trip to another country in the region. The Chinese minister also expressed confidence that Thailand will play a crucial role in promoting global stability and peace.
Mr Wang emphasised Thai-Chinese comprehensive strategic partnership and said their mutual trust and alliance would bolster peace and development in the region. China agreed to provide support to Thailand in terms of human resource development and technology transfer, said the spokesman.
Ahead of the rollout of the visa exemptions, the Thai minister also promised additional safety measures for foreign visitors, he said.
Meanwhile, China acknowledged the strategic importance of the Land Bridge megaproject and would hold talks with interested Chinese companies. Thailand offered to hold a roadshow to provide details and touted the Land Bridge megaproject as an economic opportunity and a strategic link to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating transnational crime, including call-centre scams, online gambling, human trafficking and narcotics. China also pledged to support Thailand as the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation chair.
The premier congratulated both nations on signing two deals to promote imports of Thai agricultural products to China and welcomed Chinese investment in Thailand.
The agreements were signed by Capt Thamanat Prompow, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives and Chinese Ambassador Han Zhiqiang.