China 'understands, hopes to see a united Thailand'
July 12, 2014 00:00 By Marisa Chimprabha The Nation
Sihasak visits Beijing as part of junta's effort to explain the power seizure
China hopes to see peace and unity restored in Thailand as soon as possible, so the Kingdom can go back to being a leader in the region. It has also said it will not intervene in Thailand’s domestic affairs.
Sihasak Puangketkeow, permanent secretary of the Foreign Ministry, said Beijing also wanted conflicting parties to get together and solve problems so the country can move forward.
He was speaking after attending meetings yesterday with high-ranking Chinese officials, including Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, as part of the second China-Thailand Strategic Dialogue. He also paid courtesy calls to Foreign Minister Wang Yi and State Councillor Yang Jiechi.
This is the first time that Thailand has held official meetings with the Chinese government since the military junta seized power in May.
In a press briefing after the dialogue, Liu reiterated that China wished to maintain and strengthen bilateral ties, adding that Beijing regarded Thailand as a good friend and a strong partner.
Sihasak’s visit to China was part of the junta’s effort to explain Thailand’s political situation to other countries.
He said he had told Chinese officials about the junta’s efforts to undertake reforms via a three-phase roadmap, as well as restore political stability and create an environment conducive to long-term economic development.
“I had the opportunity to explain what Thailand is doing to restore stability, peace and democracy under [the junta’s] roadmap,” he said.
Sihasak went on to say that China said it would not intervene in Thailand’s internal problems. He also quoted Liu as saying that Beijing understood the situation as well as the junta’s efforts.
Sihasak has visited many countries to explain what has been happening in Thailand after the coup.
“China wants Thailand and its people see a return to security and unity as it continues playing an active role in the region and the world,” Liu said through a translator.
He added that both countries and their people have enjoyed excellent relations, pointing out that members of the Thai Royal Family had visited the mainland several times, and that senior officials from both countries had also exchanged visits.
Beijing said it hopes the “Thai leader” would be able to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit that will be held in the mainland in November, Sihasak said.
Meanwhile, Sihasak dismissed criticism that Thailand was leaning on China now that many countries in the West had decided to impose sanctions in response to the power seizure.
“It is the decision of the Western countries [to downgrade mutual relations], but a ‘friend in need is a friend indeed’,” he pointed out. “Thailand’s relations with other countries can only move forward, and never halt. So if one country is ready [to cooperate with Thailand], we are also ready to do so.”
Sihasak added that China wanted to invite Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanond over to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations next year.