China, Thailand pledge closer relationship


BEIJING, Dec 23 – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks with his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha here on Monday and they pledged to further boost the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

It was the second meeting between Li and Prayut in three days. On Friday, they met in Bangkok and witnessed the signing of agriculture and railway deals. Li was attending the fifth summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) shakes hands with visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha before their talks in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 22, 2014. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi) Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) shakes hands with visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha before their talks in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 22, 2014. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

China will work with Thailand to prepare for the launch of a railway project as soon as possible, Li said on Monday when talking to the visiting Thai Prime Minister at the Great Hall of the People.

As 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Thailand, Li said he hopes the two sides will cement their traditional friendship and boost cooperation in pursuit of win-win reciprocity and improve the comprehensive strategic partnership, highlighting the target of increasing bilateral trade to 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2015.

Li looked forward to more use of the Chinese yuan and the Thai baht in trade and investment settlement, as well as more technology cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. The two sides have set a target of increasing travellers to five million between the two countries by 2016.

Li hopes the Thai side will support and facilitate Chinese participation in the exploitation of kalium resources in Thailand.

He stressed that China regards the ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy and welcomes the ASEAN push to transform the ten-country bloc into a community.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The 10-country bloc set Dec. 31, 2015 for the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community, a region of free flows of goods, services, skilled labor, capital and investment.

Hailing Thailand’s role in promoting the China-ASEAN relationship, Li said China is willing to work together with Thailand regarding the signing of a China-ASEAN treaty for friendly cooperation, the upgrading of the current China-ASEAN free trade zone as well as boosting maritime cooperation.

For his part, Prayut said Thailand is committed to elevating the bilateral relationship and stands ready to implement the deals with China on railway cooperation and farm produce trade, and boost trade, investment and financial cooperation as well as people-to-people exchanges to benefit the people of the two countries.

The Thai side welcomes Chinese enterprises to set up factories in Thailand, he said.

Prayut said China plays an important part in promoting peace, stability and development in the region and that Thailand will cooperate closely with China to step up the ASEAN-China ties as well as regional cooperation.

Before the talks, Li held a red-carpet ceremony to welcome the Thai Prime Minister.

After the talks, they witnessed a currency swap deal and three other cooperation documents.

Prayut arrived in Beijing on Monday to make a two-day visit to China.