China pledges to aid Thai development
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China pledges to aid Thai development

China will help Thailand improve its railways, water management, green energy, and education systems as part of a bilateral strategic partnership, the country's new ambassador Ning Fukai said on Tuesday.

Upgrading railways is an effective means of addressing poverty in countries such as China and Thailand, said Mr Ning, who was previously Chinese ambassador to South Korea and Cambodia.

"China might have started late, but we now have a rail system that is the fastest and biggest in the world. And we can construct high-speed rail systems in the shortest time in the world too. So we're competitive given factors including building techniques, equipment, experience and overhead costs," said the ambassador.

By the end of last year, China's high-speed rail system covered 13,000 kilometres, he said, adding that another 4,000 kilometres is soon to open.

If China could establish a rail network with Thailand, which is a regional transport and economic hub, it would enhance the Asean-China strategic partnership as well, said the 58-year-old ambassador.

Visits between government and industry leaders in Thailand and China have already increased and will continue to do so as the two sides work to agree areas of bilateral cooperation and achieve US$100,000 million worth of two-way trade by 2015, said Mr Ning.

His job was also to promote science and technology and maritime cooperation as well as cultural exchanges, particularly between young people, he added.

Thailand is the second largest trading partner of China in Asean.   

"Within three to five years, China will allocate 15,000 scholarships to Asean countries and inject more money into the special fund to promote cultural exchanges in Asian region," said Mr Ning.

He highlighted the importance of Asean-China relations, noting that the two regions were creating the world's largest free trade area. "Trade value has jumped from US$54,800 million in 2002 to US$400,100 million in 2012. China has contributed to more than half of Asia's economic growth," said the Chinese ambassador. 

In the next eight years, Asean-China trade would reach one trillion dollars and China would invest another $150,000 million in the region, he said.

China would also help promote financial and maritime cooperation, trans-Asia rail construction, and improve warning mechanisms for financial crises and natural disasters, said Mr Ning.

"China's three immediate goals remain - economic growth, improving economic reform, and improving the nation into a new socialism with democracy and civilisation. We’re promoting dual values of engaging with neighbouring countries with moral principles and on mutual interests, so we’ll help developing countries without attached conditions," said Mr Ning.

China has become Thailand’s biggest market for exports and second largest for imports. Chinese make up the largest group of tourists to Thailand. 

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