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Junta chief woos Chinese

National Council for Peace and Order chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, second right, meets with a Chinese business delegation that paid him a courtesy call at the Army headquarters yesterday.

National Council for Peace and Order chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, second right, meets with a Chinese business delegation that paid him a courtesy call at the Army headquarters yesterday.

Gen Prayuth calls on visiting businessmen to encourage investors and tourists to return; promises new govt in 3 months

Junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday called on Chinese businessmen to help create a good understanding of the situation in post-coup Thailand in order to retain investments and tourists from China.

The chief of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) also said an interim government could be set up in three months in the third phase of its roadmap for national reconciliation.

Prayuth, who is also the Army chief, had said earlier that an interim civil administration could be created before the start of the next fiscal year on October 1.

The general met the group of visiting Chinese businessmen at the Royal Thai Army headquarters yesterday.

"Thailand will be China's strategic partner in all levels of cooperation for a long time," the junta chief was quoted as saying by NCPO spokeswoman Pattamaporn Rattanadilok na Phuket.

Though neighbouring countries such as China, Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia have voiced their understanding of the coup, several countries in the West, like the United States and Australia, have chosen to reduce their ties with the Kingdom.

At the meeting, Prayuth also asked the visiting businessmen - led by Thai Chamber of Commerce vice chairman Vichai Assarassakorn - for confidence in the country in terms of trade and investing in a corruption-free market.

The Chinese businessmen included representatives from several private sectors on the mainland including industry, banking, information and technology, home appliance, auto, fertiliser, mining and water-resource management.

Pattamaporn said the Chinese private sector wanted to affirm its intention of doing business in Thailand on all aspects as well as to strengthen ties between the two countries. He said Prayuth called on the Chinese visitors to have faith in Thailand as it would most certainly return to its old strength. He also called on them to help other investors understand the situation in Thailand and invite their countrymen to visit and invest in the Kingdom.

"The NCPO is considering lifting curfew in some more areas as soon as possible," the general said.

Pattamaporn went on to say that the NCPO chief also explained that it was necessary for the military to take charge of the country so the limitations of some regulations can be unlocked and laws put in place to help the country move

forward.

"From now on, there will be transparency, fairness and auditability with no corruption for investments in Thailand. It will focus on public interest," Pattamaporn quoted Prayuth as saying.

He added that Prayuth was also concerned about the impact construction projects might have on people, hence public participation will be introduced in all projects right from the start.

Since the military took over last month, it has frozen the price of fuel for at least 30 days, as well as the price of meals in food courts and basic necessities for six months to help mitigate the burden on people.

Furthermore, Surasak Kanchanarat, another deputy permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry who is also the acting permanent secretary, will go on a three-day visit to China next Wednesday to forge military cooperation between the two nations.

The junta chief has considered lifting the curfew in other tourist destinations such as Hua Hin, Cha-am, Hat Yai and Krabi, NCPO secretary General Udomdej Sitabutr said.

Separately, a source revealed that General Prayuth was not basking in the glory of his new position, but was committed to putting the Kingdom on the path of reform after setting up an interim government.




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