Written by Huang Yunyun / Translated by Chen Zhiying
Thailand is no stranger to many Chinese people, especially among fruits imported from Southeast Asia, “Thai Golden Pillow Durian” is like a golden signboard, and “Thai fragrant rice” also means quality assurance.
In September 2021, the 18th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) was held in Nanning, China. Thailand made its presence again, displaying and publicizing its national image, business opportunities, etc. H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thai Ambassador to China, went to Nanning to participate in this grand event and received an interview on the day of the opening ceremony.
China-ASEAN cooperation has been expanding
2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations. Talking about the development course of China-ASEAN cooperation, H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot concluded: “ASEAN-China cooperation was extremely limited 30 years ago. Bilateral cooperation has expanded from trade and investment to all aspects, including environment, education, culture, population, science and technology, transportation, safety and other fields.”
“ASEAN-China cooperation is very comprehensive, serving as the foundation for ASEAN and China to achieve greater prosperity,” H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot spoke highly of the cooperation between both sides.
Facing the future, H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot believes that China and Southeast Asia have the geographical advantage of connecting each other by mountains and rivers. With the increasingly convenient transportation, bilateral cooperation will usher in broader prospects. “I believe the relationship between ASEAN and China will be more active, and I am optimistic about the potential of economic growth of both sides,” he said.
Bilateral exchanges reflect “China and Thailand will always be a family”
In terms of China-Thailand cooperation, H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot believes that the two peoples have close relations and have similarities in cultural traditions, national languages and diets. “This similarity enables Thai-China relations to become one family based on mutual respect and understanding as well as mutual benefits. It also helps promote the relations between the two peoples.” According to H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot, before the pandemic, about 11 million Chinese tourists traveled to Thailand every year, and as many as 1 million Thai tourists went to China. “Keep in mind that Thailand is a country with a population of only over 60 million. Many Thais are willing to go to China to experience its economic development and see its beautiful scenery.” His words showed the wish for the Chinese and Thais to understand and be close to each other.
Since 2020, the COVID-19 has become a challenge for countries around the world. Preventing and having good control of the pandemic are their top priorities. During the pandemic, China and Thailand helped each other many times. H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot introduced that in early February 2020, the king of Thailand provided medical equipment and donation to the people of Wuhan. Since then, China has also provided Thailand with a large amount of medical equipment, such as vaccines and other materials.
“China takes the lead in the fight against the pandemic,” said H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot. In the future, China and Thailand can conduct more cooperation in health, so as to improve people’s living standards and innovation ability. “Let the younger generation master important new technologies. Perhaps this is where Thailand, China and other countries in Southeast Asia can further strengthen cooperation in the future.”
In addition, H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot also put forward other expectations, saying he hoped that the two countries could strengthen cooperation in tourism, academia, commerce and other fields. “Guangxi is closer to Bangkok than Beijing. I think many Thai investors will be willing to come to Guangxi and China to seek more trade and investment opportunities. Thailand and China can achieve more cooperation in sustainable development, infrastructure construction, domestic trade and financial system that China attaches great importance to,” said H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot.
Online CAEXPO sets up a digital bridge for China-ASEAN cooperation
H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot visited Nanning specially for the CAEXPO this year. How did he comment on the event? “The CAEXPO has been a great success,” said His Excellency. The CAEXPO this year was held under the COVID-19. However, the high standards that China and ASEAN leaders have attended the Expo, as well as the rich exhibits and active business exchanges at the CAEXPO impressed H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot deeply.
During the CAEXPO, the Thai Pavilion was full of people. All kinds of food and handicrafts attracted many visitors. Thailand has also set up a “Thai trust” exhibition area, whose exhibits have been certified by the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand. It is worth mentioning that in the advanced technology exhibition area, the advanced technology of China-Thai cooperation in sugar industry — “two-step” refined sugar production line and the cogeneration mode matched the bioenergy power plants were unveiled for the first time. It is said that the bagasse in the sugar making process can be transformed into soil water retaining agent, dietary fiber, mixed fertilizer and other products through this technology, providing scientific and technological support for the comprehensive utilization and sustainable development of circular economy in sugar industry.
In addition to the physical exhibition, exhibitors can also carry out product exhibition, business negotiation and other activities through the Online CAEXPO. The mode of “Offline + Online CAEXPO” is an innovative move made by the CAEXPO in response to the economic and trade needs of China and ASEAN and the regular epidemic prevention and control. In this regard, H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot expressed his praise: “I would like to congratulate the organizers, the Chinese government and the local government of Guangxi on building such a bridge for the investment and trade between ASEAN and China. I hope we can get more booths and display more Thai products in the future. Of course, we also look forward to more Thai people coming to Nanning with their products.”