China, Thailand agree on trade target

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thailand and China yesterday agreed to increase bilateral trade to US$100 billion by 2015, during an official visit by newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Two-way trade was nearly $70 billion last year.

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said the two sides promised to push for the goal when Wang called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Government House yesterday.

Yingluck paid much attention to the question of whether giant panda Lin Ping, which was born in Thailand to parents on loan from China, would be sent back soon.

Wang told her that China had decided to extend Lin Ping's stay in Thailand but that the relevant Thai authorities would have to discuss the matter with the Chinese government, according to Surapong. However, the panda, which is four years old, would eventually have to return to China for mating.

On the issue of the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Wang referred to the tension as historically critical. He stated the need for China and Asean to deepen their strategic partnership.

That is why Beijing has made friendly ties with Asean a top priority of its diplomacy, he said.

"The Chinese government stands firm to solve the disputes with some Asean countries through negotiation and beneficial cooperation," he said.

He added that he hoped all Asean nations could avert problems and focus on cooperation in the context of China-Asean ties, to push the relationship to another level. "China also hopes Thailand, in its capacity as the coordinator, will play a constructive role in supporting the growth of China-Asean ties," Wang said.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-Asean strategic partnership.

Thailand is the first stop of Wang's tour of four Asean nations, the others being Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore.

The Chinese foreign minister also emphasised the long-standing ties between his country and Thailand. "The Thai-Chinese relationship is special, like a treasure that ought to be nurtured by both countries," he said.

In the aftermath of the Asean Summit that just concluded in Brunei, Thailand proposed a special meeting between China and Asean that has been scheduled to take place in August.

Surapong said Thailand needed to take on a clear role in creating the right understanding between Asean and China.

"We hope to see good cooperation between the two sides."

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