July 13, 2014 00:00 By Nuntida Puangthong
Sihasak says Beijing committed to infrastructure development; 'understands reasons for coup'
China has affirmed its interest in taking part in Thailand’s basic infrastructure development, including projects that will provide better linkages throughout the country like high-speed rail, Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow said yesterday.
Sihasak, who also serves as acting foreign minister, was speaking after chairing a meeting in Beijing of Thai diplomats, government officials and businessmen working in China.
He was on an official visit to China to participate in the two-day second China-Thailand Strategic Dialogue, which concluded yesterday.
“China has expressed continuing interest to take part in Thailand’s basic infrastructure developments such as the high-speed train, which will provide linkage for the region, and the water management project,” Sihasak said.
“We have responded that the National Council for Peace and Order intends to proceed with the plan, provided there is transparency and the funding for the projects is manageable within the annual budget. China has accepted our stand in this regard.”
Thailand also sought Chinese investments in projects that will give added value to Thai agricultural products, including rubber, rice and cassava, he said.
Sihasak expressed satisfaction with the results of his trip, saying China has a good understanding of the reasons for the May 22 power seizure by the military.
He said China understood that the military had to rein in the situation because the country was tilting dangerously towards major civil strife.
He said he had also explained the reasons behind the coup to western countries and assured them that Thailand still upheld democracy. However, the country needed stability and security because this was the only way democracy could be strengthened.
“Thailand is in a transition period,” Sihasak said. “We have to show the world that we can still move forward, especially on foreign affairs.”
“We must play strong, proactive roles in bilateral relations with our neighbouring countries in Asean and on other international stages.”
Sihasak said his visit to China was aimed at strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries, as China was one of Thailand’s biggest economic partners and a major export market.
He has proposed to China that a high-level committee be established to oversee all economic cooperation between the two countries.
China has expressed a wish that a third meeting of the joint-committee on trade, investment and the economy be held when Thailand is ready.