Thailand, the new target of Chinese investment
China is the first source of tourist in Thailand. Last year, the Tourism and Sports Ministry reported more than 4 million Chinese visiting the country in the 10 first months of the year and this number is increasing every year.
The Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow said when he came in Beijing last week that China asked again to let Thailand allows its national citizens to visit the country without any visa. Discussions are still in process though.
Thailand needs to rise from its ashes
Since Thailand power has been militarily seized in late May, the political background in Thailande is sensitive. Chinese government is hoping that the tension between Western countries and Thailand will lead this last one to turn towards China and downgraded diplomatic relations. They even wish that Thailand returns to democratic rule and has election.
Chinese officials told Sihasak that they thought Thailand and China always have good relation whether it is as a friend, a business partner or even a relative. Even with the woes that Thailand experienced, China wants to show its support without interfering in their internal problems.
After the Beijing meeting, Sihasak stated that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will consider the request « The Foreign Ministry will gather pros and cons of the free-visa privilege and submit them to the NCPO to substantiate this for consideration ». If the visa-free privilege is accepted by Thailand, it also means that Thai people will be able to travel to China without a visa. That is a first in the Chinese history.
The visit of Sihasak wasn’t only about the visa question but also to reinforce the economic development on the long-term and to restore the political stability between the two countries. This is part of a junta’s campaign to explain the Thai political situation to other countries. Sihasak wishes it won’t take long that the investment confidence comes back.
A long term partnership
Next year, Thailand and China will celebrate their 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Sihasak hopes after all those year of partnership, both countries can treat each other as equal, move forward and deal with problems together.
During the discussion, China showed a great interest in many project such as investing in the Thai agriculture products or enhance connectivity in the region under the Master Plan of Connectivity. The dual-track trains seems to be one of the project China is interested about.
Infrastructures that could link neighbouring countries is also a project that Beijing would like Thailand to finalise details quickly. The country is still willing to wait for an interim government and a Legislative Assembly to take place.