Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian was recently interviewed by journalists of the Thai-Sino Press Association about the 19th Congress of China’s Communist Party and its consequence for relations with Thailand. The interview is excerpted below.
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was successfully held in Beijing from October 18 to 24. In my recent communication with friends from Thailand, I was always asked, “What is the significance of the 19th National Congress for China and for the world?”, “How will it affect the China-Thailand relationship?”, and “How shall we seize the opportunity to promote the China-Thailand relationship?”
The party 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 agreements such as that 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.
The most important theoretical achievement of the congress is the establishment of Xi Jinping’s [political theory], “Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” as the guiding thought of the party.
It stated explicitly that we would complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, basically realise socialist modernisation 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 party congress mapped out an overall plan covering politics, economy, culture, society, ecology and others, 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 patterns, improve the industrial system and economic structure, and steadily strengthen the innovation capacity and competitiveness of China’s economy.
It 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 [instead] 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 liberalisation 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 realised only in a peaceful international environment and under a stable international order. The 19th National Congress made a pledge 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.
In early November, President Xi Jinping attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam where he brought forward a series of important propositions on building an open Asia-Pacific economy, promoting innovation-driven, interconnected and inclusive development, deepening partnership and envisaging development in the region.
China and Thailand are major Asia-Pacific countries, which are, at the same time, close neighbours and friends. The 19th National Congress will also provide China-Thailand relations with new opportunities.
First, both China and Thailand are developing countries at similar development stages with similar development tasks. China pursues innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development and stays committed to developing a modernised economy. Thailand upholds the “sufficiency economy” proposed by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, puts forward the Thailand 4.0 digital Thailand vision 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 Belt-and-Road international cooperation, have provided 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 neighbours, and they will be the first to benefit from it”. As the second largest economy of Southeast Asia and which enjoys advantages in geographical location and business environment, Thailand could 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 a digital economy, a 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 building a community with a shared future in Asia. China gives priority to neighbourhood diplomacy and will deepen relations with its neighbours in accordance with the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness, and the policy of forging friendship and partnership with its neighbours.
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 contributions to world peace and development.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides, the China-Thailand comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is making steady progress, and the concept of “Jeen Thai Pee Nong Gan” (China and Thailand are siblings) is taking deep root in the hearts of the two peoples. The China-Thailand relationship is faced with hard-won opportunities. Further advancement of the bilateral relationship serves the interests and meets the aspirations of the two sides.
The two sides should step up exchanges, and 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.
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 an 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 systems 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 funding and technology to engage in the building of the EEC, translating 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.
China and Thailand have close cooperation in tourism. There are nearly 10 million people travelling between the two countries. In this connection, cultural festivals, film festivals or other regular exchange programmes could 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 stepping up cooperation between vocational education schools on the two sides, and welcomes Thailand’s participation in the World Skills Competition to be held in Shanghai in 2021.
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 neighbourhood diplomacy. The China-Thailand relationship has set a good example for relationships between China and other neighbouring countries.
Despite the changes in the 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.