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Belt and Road Initiative Enables China and Thailand to Increase Affinity

--by H.E. Lyu Jian, Ambassador of China to Thailand

Recently, I visited Khon Kaen, Nong Khai and Udon Thani in Northeastern Thailand. At the Confucius Institute of Khon Kaen University, I attended the opening ceremony of the "Preparatory Class for Thai Vocational College Students to Study in China". I met 40 students from 15 vocational colleges in Thailand. They will first study Chinese in the Confucius Institute and then learn logistics, electronics, machinery, computer and other professional knowledge in China's vocational colleges. As these students prepare for their study in China, 28 Thai students are learning high-speed rail technology at Liuzhou Railway Vocational Technical College in Guangxi, China.

Together with Thai vocational college students who join the preparatory class for study in China

In Nong Khai Province, I talked with local government officials and people from the business and overseas Chinese communities. They briefed me on the economic and social development of Nong Khai and expressed their hope that the China-Lao Railway could be completed as soon as possible and extend southwards, so that the location advantage and economic potential of Nong Khai could be fully unleashed, attracting more investors and tourists.

Communicating with students participating in "Chinese training course for law enforcement officials from Northeastern Thailand" at the Confucius Institute

The young students' desire for knowledge and the expectations of people from all circles give me this strong feeling that we should speed up cooperation between China and Thailand under the Belt and Road so that more people and regions will benefit from it. Since President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road initiative in the autumn of 2013, the leaders of China and Thailand have held multiple meetings and reached important consensus on synergizing China's Belt and Road with "Thailand 4.0", "Digital Thailand", "Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)" and other development strategies of Thailand. The two countries have signed MoUs on jointly promoting the Belt and Road and building the EEC. Friends from all walks of life in Thailand pay close attention to the progress of Belt and Road cooperation. Many of them even know how to say Belt and Road in Chinese.

Visiting Nong Khai Port

Over the past 5 years, we have witnessed the achievements of Belt and Road cooperation between China and Thailand. The China-Thailand railway, which is the flagship project in bilateral cooperation, officially started its construction in December 2017. The Rayong Industrial Park, jointly developed by Thai and Chinese enterprises, is now home to 110 Chinese-funded enterprises. It has drawn investment of US$ 2.9 billion, and created jobs for more than 30,000 local people. In recent years, China's leading enterprises such as Huawei, Alibaba and Jingdong have increased their investment in Thailand and actively participated in EEC development and digitization in Thailand. At present, we have 37,000 Chinese students in Thailand, and 27,000 Thai students in China. Last year, Chinese tourists made nearly 10 million visits to Thailand. China and Thailand have carried out rich and fruitful exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, science and technology.

Communicating with the governor of Nong Khai, and people from business and education sectors

Looking back on the achievements of cooperation between China and Thailand, we can see that the two countries are closely connected with each other as never before in terms of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people bond; we can see that cooperation projects in various fields are making continuous progress, benefiting individuals, families and businesses; and we can feel that we are earning more trust and understanding from the public. At the same time, we have also noted the resurgence of trade protectionism and unilateralism in some countries, which may have a negative impact on the multilateral trading system and cause disturbances to our cooperation. However, the trend of world multi-polarization and economic globalization is irreversible, and the concept of opening up, integration and win-win cooperation is gaining popularity. I believe that the Belt and Road initiative, which is based on the principle of "achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration", will bring more opportunities for China-Thailand practical cooperation, create more benefits for the two peoples, and enable China and Thailand to increase their affinity.

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