'Govt too submissive to China'
The opposition zeroed in on the government's economic "submissiveness" to China during the no-confidence debate yesterday.
Ekkapob Pianpiset, a Chiang Rai MP for the dissolved Future Forward Party, told Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha the government has been submissive to China when it comes to trade and investment.
He said some Chinese businesses have been allowed to dominate the lucrative fruit export sector, driving down prices. The price of longan, for example, has tumbled to 13 baht a kilo at farms, down almost threefold from its peak trading period last year.
Also, the property market was hit by an influx of investors from China buying condominiums and leasing them to tourists and posing direct competition to small- and medium-sized hotels, he said.
Mr Ekkapob added that the government had little negotiating power with China over the high-speed train project, which went ahead despite the Thai government's hesitation.
The MP also said the government allegedly had to "implore" China, through informal exchanges, to release water into the Mekong River early this year to ease drought in Thai areas. The government, Mr Ekkapob said, should have opened formal and "dignified" diplomatic talks on the matter.
The accusation prompted Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai to rebut the claim, saying the government was not in a pitiful state but had held the meetings with China as "two friends" to thrash out the Mekong River issue.
Also, Sarassanan Annopporn, a Pheu Thai MP for Khon Kaen, said the government has welcomed Alibaba, the Chinese multinational technology giant, with open arms and given it a free run to operate its e-commerce business and make huge profits at the expense of local online businesses.
"Large foreign businesses are after profits, first and foremost. There is no way they would come in with the aim to revitalise Thailand's economy."