Thai PM invites Xi Jinping to mark 50 years of Thai-Sino relations

Photo courtesy of Li Xueren and Royal Thai Government

Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has invited China President Xi Jinping to visit the Land of Smiles in the upcoming year, a move set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Thai-Sino relations. This invitation was extended following a meeting with China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, who just concluded a four-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

The meeting between the two leaders focused on strengthening Thai-Chinese cooperation, a highlight being the mutual visa exemptions for citizens of both countries. This marks a significant step in elevating the friendly ties and trust between Thailand and China, according to PM Srettha.

“As both countries are to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year, I have extended an invitation to Mr Xi to make an official visit to Thailand.”

Both leaders expressed optimism for growth in travel and tourism sectors, with the former anticipating a return to pre-Covid-19 flight levels and the latter encouraging Thai citizens to experience China’s rich culture, reported Bangkok Post.

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Effective from March 1, the visa-exemption agreement allows holders of valid, ordinary Thai passports and Chinese passport holders for public affairs to be exempt from visa requirements for entering, exiting, or transiting the other country for up to 30 days. However, cumulative stays should not exceed 90 days within 180 days, barring activities like residing, working, studying, or media activities which require prior official approval.

The 61 year old Thai prime minister also confirmed Thailand’s backing for China and the US to conduct dialogues to ease tensions, praising the recent meeting between top Chinese and US officials in Bangkok as historic and significant.

Among other topics discussed during the meeting were plans for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing factories, the development of the Thai-Chinese high-speed rail system, and agricultural trade cooperation. While unable to specify the exact figure, the Prime Minister of Thailand confidently assured that trade value between Thailand and China would witness an increase.

Government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke summarised the meeting, stating that PM Srettha was pleased with the successful visa-free programme and its potential to boost trade and people-to-people relations. The Bangkok-born prime minister encouraged both sides to coordinate closely in organising activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Wang expressed his appreciation for the Thai PM’s decision to make China his first overseas visit destination in the region. He also voiced confidence that Thailand would play a significant role in promoting global stability and peace, highlighting the importance of the Thai-Chinese comprehensive strategic partnership.

PM Srettha assured additional safety measures for foreign visitors ahead of the visa exemption rollout. Additionally, China recognised the strategic importance of the Land Bridge megaproject and promised to hold discussions with interested Chinese companies. Thailand offered to hold a roadshow to provide details and promoted the Land Bridge megaproject as an economic opportunity and a strategic link to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Both nations agreed to enhance cooperation in combatting transnational crime, including call centre scams, online gambling, human trafficking, and narcotics. China also pledged to support Thailand as the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation chair.

The Thai PM welcomed the signing of two agreements to boost imports of Thai agricultural products to China and Chinese investment in Thailand. The agreements were signed by Thamanat Prompow, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and Chinese Ambassador Han Zhiqiang.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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