H.E. Mr. Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thailand's ambassador to China
by Lyu Hui
BEIJING, March. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has grown from a concept to a key platform for a new era of international cooperation with concrete outcomes delivered since its inception in 2013, said Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thailand's Ambassador to China, in a recent written interview with Xinhuanet.
Looking forward to the convening of the 3rd Belt and Road Forum on the occasion of its 10th anniversary, the ambassador highly commended BRI's principles of promoting win-win cooperation by strengthening policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people exchanges.
The BRI has attracted the participation of over three-fourths of countries in the world and 32 international organizations. It has created some 420,000 jobs in countries along the routes and helped lift nearly 40 million people out of poverty over the past decade, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing first session of the 14th National People's Congress.
The ambassador said both countries have expanded cooperation and synergies in various areas under the framework of BRI and the China-Thailand Railway is a flagship project of BRI cooperation to promote connectivity and economic prosperity in the region.
The first section of the railway, linking the Thai capital of Bangkok with the Nakhon Ratchasima province, is expected to shorten the travel time from more than four hours to over one hour.
He noted that the standard-gauge high-speed railway, once completed, will enhance two-way tourism and trade, strengthen connectivity between Southeast Asian countries and China, and bring tangible benefits and inject new momentum into regional development.
On bilateral relations and exchanges, the ambassador spoke highly of the achievements made over the past year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to Thailand last year since assuming office, the ambassador said.
The year 2022 marked the 10th anniversary of Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries and also the commencement of building a Thailand-China community with a shared future for enhanced stability, prosperity and sustainability.
What's more, China was Thailand's number one trade partner for 10 consecutive years since 2013 and also Thailand's largest source of FDI applications through the Board of Investment (BOI) of Thailand in 2022, he added.
Looking ahead, he expects increased two-way economic activities, especially in the tourism sector since China resumed outbound travel in early 2023 as part of optimized COVID-19 response.
He also expressed the hope that potential Chinese companies could explore new business opportunities in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and expand investment in the industries of the future by utilizing Thailand's developed supply chain, favorable investment policies, and strong domestic demand.
Faced with impacts from COVID-19 and downward pressure in the global economy, China's economy maintained overall stability and its gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3 percent year on year in 2022.
Sharing his opinion about China's hard-won economic performance, the ambassador pointed out that China's strong consumption, investment, and trade are major driving forces of China's economic growth, with high-quality development and innovation as important catalysts.
China's consumption growth brings increased revenue for Thai exports, especially fruits and agriculture products, which are increasingly popular with Chinese consumers, the ambassador further mentioned.
Acknowledging that China's business environment has greatly improved in recent years and China's economic and trade policies have profound impact on the global and regional economy, the ambassador also expressed his hope that China would create a more stable, transparent and predictable investment environment for foreign investors.
Meanwhile, the ambassador looks forward to seeing further expansion of China's opening up so as to bring greater opportunities to the world.
Commenting on how to tackle global governance challenges posed by profound changes unseen in a century, the ambassador highly appreciated China's constructive role as a responsible major power in contributing to global peace, stability and sustainable development, adding that China-proposed Global Development Initiative (GDI) and Global Security Initiative (GSI) reflect China's endeavors to realize such goals.
He said that Thailand's homegrown Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy model shares the same key concepts with the GDI with focus on people-centered prosperity as well as a balanced, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Therefore, he expects that the two countries can collaborate to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) officially entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022, marking the launch of the world's largest free trade deal comprising 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, as well as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia and New Zealand.
Evaluating RCEP in the past year, the ambassador hailed the great role it played in reinforcing ASEAN centrality in the emerging regional economic architecture and the interests of ASEAN's FTA partners in enhancing economic integration and strengthening economic cooperation among the participating countries.
Benefiting from RCEP, Thailand exported some 48,419 million US dollars worth of goods to China and other member countries during the first 11 months of 2022, according to the ambassador, who calls for increasing the diversity of the trade products and reaping more benefits.
Looking into the future, he believed that RCEP will continue to provide a framework for the standardization of high-quality trade practices, lower trade barriers and improve market access for goods and services in the region.
Talking about the ongoing "Two Sessions" held in Beijing, the ambassador stressed he had personally attended the event many times and was impressed by China's systematic, inclusive and people-centered approach to policy planning in a country of 1.4 billion people.
He is confident that the targets and measures endorsed at the "Two Sessions" will help China to achieve its second centenary goal of building a modern socialist country in all respects.■