By Piriya Khempon
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and represents a key year for “building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects.” The development of China over the last 70 years has truly been a “Great Change” from poverty and stagnancy to steep economic development driven by scientific and technological innovation. The country has embraced a digital society. Such achievements testify to the wisdom and hard work of the Chinese people. I want to convey my congratulations to the Chinese government and the hard-working Chinese people.
I believe that China is steadily seizing prosperity and strength. China’s “Great Change” has contributed to the world economy in many ways, and the prosperity of the Chinese economy is beneficial to the world. China is not only the largest trading partner of ASEAN countries but also the largest trading partner of many other countries. Since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations 44 years ago, Thailand and China have coexisted peacefully and seen considerable progress in bilateral relations. The traditional friendship of “Jeen Thai Phee Nong Gan (China and Thailand are brothers)” has been further cemented. In 2018, the volume of bilateral trade between Thailand and China set a historical record of US$81 billion, and China became Thailand’s largest importer and second largest exporter. Over the coming three years, the two countries are expected to achieve the goal of US$140 billion in trade. With the further opening-up of the Chinese economy and consolidation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), trade relations between the two countries will be further strengthened.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has benefited Thailand and other ASEAN countries considerably, creating great opportunities for the development of Thailand-China relations. For example, the Thailand- China Railway connecting Bangkok with Laos and China’s Kunming is expected to be completed in 2020. The movement of people and goods will soon become more convenient and faster. The Thai government has attached great importance to the development of the Eastern Economic Corridor and its synergy with the BRI. Huawei Technology is investing in internet construction in the region to improve digital connectivity. We hope that more Chinese companies such as JD.com and Alibaba Group will invest in Thailand to enhance ASEAN digital connectivity.
The future will bring even more space for Thailand and China to cooperate in many fields. I suggest that the southern regions of China become more closely connected to Indochina for cooperation in more areas and facilitate greater personnel exchange between the Mekong Sub-region and southern China, which will help form a huge market to further develop international trade, tourism and other industries. Through connectivity, relations between Thailand and China will become closer due to more frequent exchange and cooperation in trade, tourism, investment, culture and other realms.
China has opened its markets to the world and shared development opportunities with other countries, which conforms to the trends of globalization. The China International Import Expo (CIIE) is an important representation of China’s firm determination to open its market and develop an open economy. I believe that due to increasing interdependence of national economies, global economic growth can only be maintained through opening markets, advocating free trade and promoting a multilateral trading system.
The Chinese economy is now poised at a stage of transformation driven by scientific and technological innovation—the dawn of a “new economy.” Science and technology have been widely harnessed to upgrade the Chinese economy. China is embracing a lead position globally in science and technology. Many developing countries are also seeking technology-driven development. In 2016, the Thai government released the “Thailand 4.0” plan to develop high-value-added industries through innovation and technical means to promote industrial transformation and upgrading and development of a new economic model. China has set a good example in promoting economic growth through scientific and technological innovation, avoiding “the middle-income trap” and enhancing economic strength.