New ambassador Ning pledges China-Thailand partnerships
China intends to work in partnership with Thailand to develop its railways, water management, clean energy and education, says its new ambassador to Thailand, Ning Fukai.
Upgrading the railways would help tackle poverty in countries such as China and Thailand, Mr Ning, former ambassador to South Korea and Cambodia, said.
‘‘China may have started late, but we now have the fastest and biggest railways in the world,’’ he said. ‘‘And we can construct a high-speed railway in the shortest time in the world too.
‘‘So we’re competitive, given all factors, including building techniques, equipment, experience and overhead costs.’’
By the end of last year, China had built a high-speed (over 200kph) rail network that was 13,000km long. Soon, another 4,000km would be added.
If China could also establish a network which fed into a regional transportation and economic hub with Thailand, it would enhance the Asean-China strategic partnership, he said.
Exchanges of visits between leaders of all fields in Thailand and China would continue while the two sides were agreeing on areas of cooperation.
The value of trade between Thailand and China reached US$72 billion (2.25 trillion baht) last year.
The countries were on track to achieve two-way trade worth US$100 billion by 2015, he said.
Mr Ning’s responsibilities include promoting science and technology and maritime cooperation, as well as cultural exchanges, particularly among young people.
‘‘In the next three to five years, China will allocate 15,000 scholarships to Asean countries and inject more money into special funds to promote cultural exchanges in the Asean region,’’ he said.
He highlighted China-Asean relations and noted the two regions are creating the world’s largest free trade area.
‘‘Every year, as many as 13 million people travel between China and Asean. Trade value jumped from $54.8 billion in 2002 to more than $400 billion last year. China has contributed to over half of Asean’s economic growth,’’ the Chinese ambassador said.
In the next eight years, Asean-China trade would reach $1 trillion and China would invest another US$150 billion in the region, Mr Ning said.
‘‘China’s three immediate goals are economic growth, reform, and improving the nation with democracy,’’ Mr Ning said.
‘‘We’re promoting dual values of engaging with neighbouring countries on moral principles and mutual interests.
‘‘We’ll help developing countries unconditionally.’’ Residents in the troubled far South are against making the region a special administration zone, says army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha.
He said the idea was ‘‘favoured mostly by outsiders’’, whereas locals do not want a special administration zone, he said.
The special administration idea has been floated by former premier Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. There are currently two special administration zones in Thailand — Bangkok and Pattaya.
Gen Prayuth said they were created because they are major urban centres with a large number of tourists.
‘‘New administrative structures require a new form of management and budget,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t think the far South is ready in terms of budget.’’