Visa-free access to China sought

Visa-free access to China sought

Parnpree asks for tourist exemptions

Thailand is asking China to grant visa exemptions for Thai tourists with a government panel set to travel to the country to discuss the matter by the end of this month.

Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara made the remarks on Thursday after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the 8th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Beijing.

He said the two sides discussed the possibility of visa exemptions for Thai holders of ordinary passports, Mr Parnpree said, adding Mr Wang expressed support for this.

"A working panel will travel to China to discuss the matter with Chinese authorities by the end of this month," Mr Parnpree said.

Parnpree: Met FM Wang Yi in Beijing

He also warned people not to consider exploiting this measure, if granted, to overstay and work illegally in the country, saying it would ruin Thailand's reputation and the visa exemption could be revoked as a result.

Thailand has introduced a tourist visa exemption scheme for Chinese and Kazakh passport holders to enter and stay within the country for up to 30 days, from Sept 25 until Feb 29.

This initiative aims to promote tourism, a key driver in stimulating the economy, as well as create more opportunities for people-to-people connectivity.

Moreover, it is expected to enhance bilateral relations with both China and Kazakhstan.

The cabinet approved the measure on Sept 13.

The measure is intended to facilitate the travel of Chinese and Kazakhs during the high tourism season starting from late September.

Last month, China announced that from Dec 1, 2023 until Nov 30, 2024, holders of ordinary passports from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia can enter China visa-free for business, tourism, and visiting relatives and friends, and transit for no more than 15 days.

Mr Parnpree said both sides also discussed ways to boost bilateral ties and a wide range of topics.

These included the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China's massive infrastructure development project, and the construction of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway project to link with the Chinese-Lao high-speed railway.

China said it hopes the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project will be completed soon, Mr Parnpree said, adding he told Mr Wang the Thai government will do its best to expedite the project.

Mr Parnpree said Mr Wang told him China has purchased more agricultural produce from Thailand recently, particularly durian.

China placed one online order for 80,000 durians in just one minute, Mr Parnpree quoted Mr Wang as saying.

"If the high-speed rail project is completed, Thailand can expect to export more products to China, which will help boost the economy and generate more income for farmers," Mr Parnpree said.

The two men also discussed strengthening cooperation in combatting transnational crime and exchanged views on regional issues of mutual interest, the minister added.

Myanmar issue

Meanwhile, Kanchana Patarachoke, spokeswoman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said that Mr Parnpree yesterday also held bilateral talks with his Myanmar counterpart U Than Swe on the sidelines of the 8th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

Mr Parnpree expressed his appreciation for Myanmar's assistance in the repatriation of Thai nationals from Laukkaing and reaffirmed Thailand's goodwill towards Myanmar and support for Myanmar's peace process.

Both sides agreed to work together to scale up humanitarian assistance, which is in line with the implementation of Asean's 5-Point Consensus, for those living along the Thai-Myanmar border.

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