Thai Prime Minister extols China’s role in regional connectivity and development

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Srettha Thavisin. Source: CGTN

3rd March 2024 – (Bangkok) In an exclusive interview with CGTN, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has lauded the burgeoning economic relationship between Thailand and China, highlighting the profound impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on regional connectivity and development.

Describing China as a fraternal nation, Mr. Thavisin outlined the deep-seated camaraderie and the substantial economic exchanges that exist between the two countries. The Prime Minister underscored the significance of the frequent and voluminous bilateral trade, with China emerging as Thailand’s pre-eminent source of direct investment in recent years.

The Thai leader placed particular emphasis on the transportation and infrastructure enhancements made possible through the BRI. He posited that without robust connectivity—whether by road, rail, or air—efficient and productive relationships between people and nations are unattainable. The Prime Minister expressed a vision of joint prosperity, advancing the welfare of both Thai and Chinese people through improved interconnectedness.

China’s technological prowess, especially in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, was a focal point of the discussion. Thailand’s attractive tax incentives have complemented China’s technical advantages, resulting in a surge of Chinese EVs in the Thai market. Mr. Thavisin noted that at Thailand’s car show at the end of 2023, 40% of the vehicles ordered were new energy vehicles, with 80% of those being Chinese brands.

The interview also marked a historic milestone in Sino-Thai relations: the commencement of a ‘visa-free era’, simplifying travel and potentially boosting tourism and business between the two countries.

Additionally, Mr. Thavisin touched on the influential role of Chinese tech giant Huawei in the global shift towards Artificial Intelligence (AI). He acknowledged the rapid changes in the world and identified AI as a crucial domain, with data centers as a vital foundation for its development. The Prime Minister recounted productive discussions with Huawei and expressed eagerness for their expanded business presence in Thailand.

In terms of security, the Prime Minister highlighted the challenges of combating transnational crime, including online gambling and telecommunications fraud. He reported successful domestic crackdowns but acknowledged that the relocation of criminal activities to neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia necessitates closer cooperation among ASEAN leaders.