Srettha invites Xi to Thailand

Srettha invites Xi to Thailand

PM hails his trip to China as a success

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at the conclusion of the former's visit to China on Thursday. (Photo: Government House)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at the conclusion of the former's visit to China on Thursday. (Photo: Government House)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Thailand, hailing his trip to China as a success, according to an official.

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke on Thursday provided a summary of bilateral talks between Mr Srettha and Mr Xi.

The PM expressed appreciation for the warm welcome he received during his attendance at the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) at the invitation of Mr Xi, Mr Chai said, adding Mr Srettha also congratulated China on the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The prime minister and the Chinese president also vowed to strengthen Thai-China relations and emphasised the importance of the Thailand-China Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership and the need to promote high-level visits between the two countries as 2025 will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Thai-Chinese diplomatic ties, he said.

Mr Srettha has invited Mr Xi to pay an official visit to Thailand, the spokesman said.

The two sides also discussed a wide range of topics, including economic cooperation, he said, adding they believed the global economic slowdown and the geopolitical conflict between the US and China have impacted the economies of China and Thailand.

In light of this, they agreed to work together to respond to challenges and boost trade and investment, particularly in targeted industries, such as electric vehicles, batteries, semiconductors and clean energy, as well as industries associated with Thailand's bio-circular and green economic development model, he said.

Mr Chai said Mr Srettha also briefed Mr Xi on the benefits of Thailand's land bridge project in the South and encouraged Chinese investment in the project.

Mr Xi responded by saying that Chinese investors are also interested in investing in Thailand's megaprojects, Mr Chai said.

Regarding cooperation on tourism, Mr Srettha reportedly told Mr Xi that the Thai government has issued a visa-free policy for Chinese tourists.

The government has introduced a temporary visa exemption for 30-day stays for Chinese and Kazakh nationals to spur tourism as part of a broader economic revival plan. The programme started on Sept 25 and is scheduled to expire on Feb 29.

China was Thailand's biggest source of international visitors before the Covid-19 pandemic, accounting for nearly 11 million arrivals in 2019. Tourism authorities expect about 5 million Chinese to visit the country this year.

In China, Mr Srettha also expressed his condolences over the Oct 3 shooting at Siam Paragon, in which a Chinese visitor was one of the three people killed, Mr Chai said.

He said the government has tried its best to provide compensation to the victims and ensure the safety of all foreign visitors.

China had also pledged to work with Thailand to combat transnational crimes, Mr Chai said.

The two sides also discussed ways to support each other on the international stage under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation framework, the Asean and China cooperation framework and United Nations, Mr Chai added.

During his trip, Mr Srettha also met with Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang in Beijing on Wednesday. He also proposed making the visa-free entry for Chinese tourists permanent, he said.

The talks on Wednesday covered a proposed new bridge across the Mekong River to Laos to further spur Thailand-China trade and ease requirements for Thai cattle exports to China.

He also mentioned the land bridge project to link the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea via the southern provinces of Chumphon and Ranong. This, too, would enhance the potential of the Belt and Road to improve connections with international destinations as China expected, Mr Srettha said.

The land bridge project and the development of Chinese factories in Thailand would turn Thailand into a world logistics hub, the PM added.

"The visit to China was a success. I'm confident that if the land bridge project materialises and more Chinese companies invest in EVs, this will generate cash flow of over 1 trillion baht," he said.

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