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Seize Opportunity to Promote China-Thailand Relationship
Ambassador Lyu Jian’s joint written interview with Thai-Sino Association of Press

  The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was successfully held in Beijing from October 18 to 24. It is a grand event that attracted the attention of not only people from across China but also around the world. In my recent communication with friends from Thailand, I was always asked for more information about the 19th National Congress. The most frequently asked questions were “What is the significance of the 19th National Congress for China and for the world”, “How will it affect China-Thailand relationship”, and “How shall we seize the opportunity to promote China-Thailand relationship”. I would like to share with you my personal feelings and views hereinafter.

  I. The 19th National Congress puts China on the starting point of a new journey. The 19th National Congress is a milestone event taking place during the decisive stage in building and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. It came up with major political judgments such as socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, and the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved. What we now face is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. It also went into greater depth on the historic mission of the Communist Party of China in the new era, set forth the basic policy of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and made an overall plan for advancing the cause of our Party and country.

  The most important theoretical achievement of the 19th National Congress is the establishment of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the guiding thought of the Party. This Thought, which summarizes and extracts the theoretical innovations and governance experience of the Party since the 18th National Congress, involves issues like overarching objectives, tasks and plan for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, and issues like direction, model, driving force and strategic steps of development. It serves as a theoretical guidance for the development of various undertakings in China.

  The 19th National Congress focused on people’s aspiration for a better life and laid down the platform and blueprint for socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It stated explicitly that we would complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, basically realize socialist modernization by 2035, and develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of the century.

  In order to make that come true, the 19th National Congress mapped out an overall plan covering politics, economy, culture, society, ecology and others areas, with the aim of putting into practice the new development philosophy and transforming the growth model. Going forward, we will pursue supply-side structural reform as our main task, push for changes in economic growth pattern, improve industrial system and economic structure, and steadily strengthen the innovation capacity and competitiveness of China’s economy. We will promote further integration of the internet, big data, and artificial intelligence with the real economy, and foster new drivers of growth. We will put in place new mechanisms and approaches to ensure coordinated development of different regions. We will build world-class city clusters and create new economic growth poles.

  The 19th National Congress, from where China embarks on a new journey to fully build a modern socialist China, will provide more opportunities and greater space for cooperation between China and the rest of the world. China will not close its door to the world, but will only become more and more open. We will pursue the Belt and Road Initiative as a priority, increase openness and cooperation in building innovation capacity, and open China further through links running eastward and westward, across land and over sea. We will adopt policies to promote high-standard liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment. We will develop new ways of making outbound investments, promote international cooperation on production capacity, and form globally-oriented networks of trade, investment and financing, production, and services.

  China knows fully well that the dream of the Chinese people is closely connected with the dreams of the peoples of other countries, and that the Chinese Dream can be realized only in a peaceful international environment and under a stable international order. The 19th National Congress made a solemn pledge in its report that China will stay on the path of peaceful development, uphold justice while pursuing shared interests, actively develop global partnerships, expand the convergence of interests with other countries, and strive to forge a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation. China will follow the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration in engaging in reforming and developing the global governance system, work for a more just and equitable international political and economic order. China will join hands with all the other sides to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity, forge a community with a shared future for mankind and create a bright tomorrow for all of us.

  II. The 19th National Congress generates new opportunities for China-Thailand cooperation. Days ago, President Xi Jinping attended the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting where he brought forward a series of important propositions on building an open Asia-Pacific economy, promoting innovation-driven, interconnected and inclusive development in the Asia-Pacific, deepening Asia-Pacific partnership and envisaging development in the Asia-Pacific. This is a practice of China driving forward common prosperity of the Asia-Pacific with its own growth after the 19th National Congress. China and Thailand are major Asia-Pacific countries, who are, at the same time, close neighbors and friends. The 19th National Congress, while guiding China in its pursuit of development, will also provide China-Thailand relations with new opportunities.

  First, there will be opportunities for the two countries to share experience in state governance so as to build up confidence in the path of development that suits respective national conditions. China’s course of development offers other developing countries a new approach toward modernization. Both China and Thailand are developing countries at similar development stage with similar development tasks. China pursues innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development and stays committed to developing a modernized economy, while Thailand upholds the “sufficiency economy” proposed by His Majesty Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, puts forward Thailand 4.0, Digital Thailand and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), and works on a national development strategy for the next 20 years. In the future, China and Thailand can have more communication on development philosophy, strategies and measures so as to learn from and complement each other, and add fresh impetus to each other’s growth.

  Second, there will be opportunities for the two countries to conduct mutually beneficial cooperation with a higher quality at a higher level and jointly promote economic and social development. China’s new policies and plans for building a modern socialist China, such as supply-side structural reform, industrial transformation and upgrading, innovative growth and Belt and Road international cooperation, have provided historic chances for China and Thailand to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. President Xi Jinping once said that “the main partners of the Belt and Road Initiative are China's neighbors, and they will be the first to benefit from it”. As the second largest economy of Southeast Asia who enjoys advantages in geographical location and business environment, Thailand can also play an important role in and gain long-term benefits from the Belt and Road. Over the years, China has made positive progress and gathered abundant experience in digital economy, sharing economy, clean energy and other fields, and is working to build new areas, such as the Xiong’an New Area and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. China is willing to explore ways for cooperation in the above areas with the Thai side.

  Third, there will be opportunities for the two countries to expand cooperation in international and regional affairs, and press ahead with the building of the community of shared future in Asia. China gives priority to neighborhood diplomacy and will deepen relations with its neighbors in accordance with the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendship and partnership with its neighbors. China follows the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration in engaging in reforming and developing the global governance system. China values the influence and role of Thailand in international and regional affairs, and thus invited Thailand over for the G20 Hangzhou Summit in 2016 as the chair of G77 and for the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries held on the sidelines of the BRICS Xiamen Summit in September as the sole representative of the region. The Chinese side will continue to support Thailand in taking part in international and regional affairs, expand bilateral and friendly cooperation with Thailand to cover multilateral areas, and jointly make contribution to world peace and development.

  III. Suggestions for future relationship between China and Thailand. Thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides, China-Thailand comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is making steady progress, and the concept of “Jeen Thai Pee Nong Gan” is taking deep root in the hearts of the two peoples. China-Thailand relationship, which has arrived at a new historic starting point, is faced with hard-won opportunities. Further advancement of the bilateral relationship serves the interests and meets the aspiration of the two sides.

  The two sides should step up exchanges, enhance political mutual trust and friendly feelings. Leaders of China and Thailand frequently visit each other like relatives do and have strong affections for each other. His Majesty the King, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and other members of the Thai Royal Family have visited China multiple times. In the new era, we should carry forward the fine tradition, increase high-level exchanges, and give full play to the leading role of the higher level. Important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Prayut during their multiple meetings on cooperation in different fields serves as a strong political support for the development of bilateral relations. Last month, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of the State Council came to Thailand for the funeral of His Majesty Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej as the special envoy of President Xi Jinping, which demonstrated the importance attached by China to the bilateral relationship and the Chinese people’s deep feelings toward Thailand. The Chinese side will stay in close communication with the Thai Royal Family, legislative assembly, government, military and officials at various levels for timely exchange of views on bilateral cooperation and state governance, which will guide the relationship between China and Thailand.

  The two sides should take bold moves in innovation and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in economic and social development. Both countries are faced with the task of securing balanced economic and social development and transcending the middle-income trap. We should deepen and expand practical cooperation in trade and work together to push for economic upgrading. The two sides should uphold innovation-driven strategy by adding more technical contents to traditional industrial cooperation and promoting cooperation in new industrial models. New growth points for bilateral cooperation have been forged in e-commerce, logistics, satellite, navigation system and other fields. Advanced Chinese companies like Alibaba, Jingdong and Huawei have come to Thailand for investment. This will bring bilateral cooperation to a higher level. The Chinese side is ready to encourage companies with strength in fund and technology to engage in the building of the EEC, translate railway cooperation into tangible benefits for the Thai people and people of the region. Poverty reduction is an important part of social development. In the past five years, China has lifted over 60 million people out of poverty. The Chinese side would like to strengthen cooperation with Thailand in this regard and share useful experience.

  The two sides should take one step further and conduct all-dimensional and in-depth people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Both China and Thailand boast time-honored history and splendid culture, and thus enjoy great potential for in-depth people-to-people and cultural exchanges. China and Thailand have close cooperation in tourism. There are nearly 10 million people traveling between the two countries. In this connection, culture festival, film festival or other regular exchange programs can be introduced to the public. Education cooperation between the two countries is also very close. There are 31,000 Chinese students studying in Thailand, and more than 20,000 Thai students in China. The two sides should encourage the youth of the two countries to enhance mutual understanding and friendship. Vocational education is a key area in bilateral education cooperation. The Chinese side supports vocational education schools of the two sides in stepping up cooperation, welcomes Thailand’s participation in the World Skills Competition to be held in Shanghai in 2021. What is more, China also supports all forms of think tank and media exchanges, as well as talent and technical training. The Chinese Embassy would love to provide assistance and convenience.

  The two sides should expand cooperation in regional and international affairs through close coordination. The Chinese side will work alongside the Thai side to upgrade China-ASEAN cooperation, further advance Lancang-Mekong River Cooperation, take the lead in promoting open and inclusive cooperation in the region, and build a community of shared future in Asia. China and Thailand should strengthen coordination and cooperation in APEC, Asian Cooperation Dialogue, ASEM and the UN, jointly advocate international cooperation in development, and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  Friendly cooperation between China and Thailand is a priority in China’s neighborhood diplomacy. China-Thailand relationship has set a good example for relationships between China and other neighboring countries. I believe that as socialism with Chinese characteristics enters the new era, and major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics strives to forge a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation and the community of shared future for all mankind, new drivers will be generated for China-Thailand cooperation. Despite the changes in international landscape, as long as China and Thailand cooperate wholeheartedly, seize the opportunities and rise to the challenges, the bilateral relationship is bound to embrace a brighter future.

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