By Wang Fengjuan, Shi Guang
“Over the 44 years of diplomatic relations between Thailand and China, I have witnessed China’s development first hand,” declared Korn Dabbaransi, former deputy prime minister of Thailand and current president of Thai-Chinese Friendship Association, in a keynote speech at the Sub-forum on Sharing Experience on Asian Governance during the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations. “Tremendous changes have taken place in this country. I can’t help but ask: China, how did you do it?” He opined that the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations presents a good opportunity for representatives from 47 Asian countries to gather to share China’s development experience.
Secret to China’s Development
Dabbaransi started his political career in his 20s. He served as secretary of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, minister of several ministries and deputy prime minister of three governments. Now president of Thai-Chinese Friendship Association, he remains fully focused on economic and cultural exchanges between Thailand and China.
In 1975, China and Thailand established diplomatic relations. Dabbaransi, 30 years old at the time, witnessed the official process as a member of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs delegation to China. That year marked his first visit to China.
On his impression of Beijing, Dabbaransi said, “Forty-four years ago, at the crossroads near Beijing Hotel, I was impressed with the Chang’an Avenue. It was so wide and filled with people dressed in blue or gray riding bicycles. There weren’t many cars in the street— I only saw a ‘Red Flag’ black sedan after a while. This time when I stood at the same intersection, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw a fine manifestation of the success of China’s economic reform: a city with the most advanced high-rise buildings in the world. With my own eyes I have seen the rapid development of the Chinese economy, the great changes in the appearance of its cities and the improvements in its people’s lives.”
Since China’s reform and opening-up began, Dabbaransi has made nearly 150 trips to China. When he was the Thai Minister of Tourism, he welcomed an increasing number of Chinese tourists traveling to Thailand, which was a clear indication of the improvements in Chinese living standards. The whole world has witnessed China’s development, but Dabbaransi was always right next door. President Xi Jinping has pledged that poverty will be eliminated throughout the country by 2020. Dabbaransi firmly believes that this grand goal will be achieved.
“I have often asked myself how the Chinese government made it happen,” grinned Dabbaransi. “By surveying China’s experience, I found the secret: stable government and free economics. We should carefully study the economic policies of the Chinese government and how these policies have contributed to China’s sustained economic development. China has met the needs for food and clothing of its 1.4 billion people, which proves that its political system is suitable for its national conditions. We may have different political systems, but it is the common responsibility of all national governments to develop economy and improve its people’s livelihood.
“China launched this Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations as part of its efforts to promote peace and stability. After its tremendous economic achievements, this country is assuming the responsibilities of a big power in promoting common development.” After more than 40 years of reform and opening-up, China’s economic development is impressive for sure. Dabbaransi believes that China will also play an important role in promoting cultural exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations around the world.
Expectations for Common Asian Prosperity
Dabbaransi has asked many Chinese people about their favorite overseas travel destinations, and asking this question gives him joy because the answer is frequently Thailand. Dabbaransi believes that what attractsChinese tourists to his country is more than beautiful scenery, delicious food and exotic culture of Thailand—affinity between the two peoples.
He is also confident in Asia’s common prosperity. “As a Thai person, I’m very proud that the Thai economy has served as an important driver of Asia’s booming development as it has ascended unprecedented heights over the last 40 years,” he explained. He considers ASEAN a region where multiple civilizations have blended. The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations is a very good platform for China and all the other Asian countries to exchange views and learn from each other, which will be conducive to strengthening confidence and mutual trust.
Dabbaransi was quite impressed with President Xi’s speech at the opening ceremony of the conference on May 15. “President Xi remarked that the Chinese civilization is an open system formed during constant exchanges and mutual learning with other civilizations and that China is eager to make friends with all other countries in the world. He also emphasized China’s desire to serve as a bridge for exchanges and mutual learning among various civilizations.” Dabbaransi believes that considering the current global situation, the conference was held exactly at the right time to exert a particularly far-reaching significance. Sharing ups and downs, Asian countries must strengthen dialogue and integration, enhance mutual understanding and share in the prosperity of Asia.
Dabbaransi believes that given different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, different civilizations need to communicate and learn from each other. The world today is increasingly interdependent. Dialogues between civilizations are conducive to promoting harmony among all countries for common development. “China promotes ‘diverse, equal, inclusive’ exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations,” noted Dabbaransi. “The conference will build a platform of exchange and mutual learning for Asian countries to strengthen friendship and enhance confidence in common development.”
Dabbaransi believes that because Asia is a community of diverse civilizations, dialogue between nations is particularly significant. The unity and development of Asia means a lot to the world. The success of this conference will also promote exchanges and mutual learning between East and West. He advocates embracing the world with a more open posture and contributing more dynamic civilization achievements to all. “Chinese leaders have stressed on different occasions that China will work with its partners to foster prosperity and strength,” added Dabbaransi. “Harmony and happiness are also important indicators of common development for mankind.”
For Asia’s future development, Dabbaransi hopes for construction of an interconnected network of friendly cooperation to inject new impetus into the prosperity of Asian civilizations and lead Asia’s future to a harmonious and diversified future. “The Belt and Road Initiative, a belt of peace and a road of prosperity, will help Asian countries transform their dreams into reality,” he illustrated. “I hope that we can see Asian civilizations thrive and embrace prosperity. It is my dream that poverty becomes a remnant of the past for all people of Asia and the whole world.”