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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    17 November 2012 

China hopes Obama’s Asean trip will be ‘positive’


With its new leadership team in place, China will have no problem with the role of the United States in Thailand, and welcomed any of its constructive roles in this fast-growing region, Chinese Ambassador Guan Mu said yesterday.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao, who will step down after the new leadership takes the reins soon, will visit Thailand next week to reaffirm the policy and direction for relations with Thailand aimed at mutual benefit, regional peace and stability, he said.

Premier Wen will arrive in Thailand on November 20, a day after US President Barack Obama finishes his visit which will reward him with a number of Thai commitments to join Washington-sponsored cooperation schemes.

During Obama's visit, Thailand will announce its intention to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional free-trade pact, and Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a security scheme to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannatat signed yesterday the 2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai-US Defence Alliance along with US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta.

Beijing would have no problem with that, ambassador Guan Mu said ,and added that China also has many cooperation agreements with the US.

East Asia is one of the world's fast-growing regions, he said. It's understandable that many countries, not only the US, want to engage with this region.

China has a clear foreign policy to cooperate with all countries in the world to develop this region. "However, we also have a clear policy to oppose any move that could harm Chinese interest in this region and in the world," Guan Mu said at a press conference. "We also oppose intervention in the internal affairs of countries in this region," he said.

Southeast Asian nations are walking a tight rope in the rivalry between the two giants with Washington seeking a greater role and presence in the region while Beijing has territorial conflicts with some countries in the region over the South China Sea.

Ambassador Guan Mu said China would resolve the differences over the issue through peaceful means as well as bilateral and multilateral dialogue.

"We urge all concerned parties to exercise utmost restraint. We don't resort to violence to solve the problem. We will talk and are glad to jointly develop the areas in question," he said.

The ambassador said Beijing appreciated the role of Thailand as coordinator between Asean and China in facilitating consultation over the issue of South China Sea.
Premier Wen, when he is in Thailand next week, will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on regional issues as well as seek ways to enhance bilateral cooperation as stated in the "Joint statement on establishing a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership" announced in April this year.

Wen and Yingluck will attend the opening ceremony of the China Cultural Centre in Bangkok, which is the first one in Southeast Asia.

They will preside over the signing of bilateral agreements, such as the Agreement on Educational Cooperation and the exchange of the Instruments of Ratification of the Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry's statement.

Relations between Thailand and China are evaluated as a success in all dimensions, Guan Mu said. The two countries have mechanisms for cooperation on political, economic and security issues, he said.

Beijing loves to highlight its soft power in Thailand and in the region although it also has cooperation on security and military affairs.

Thai and Chinese commanders exchange regular consultations and visits, he said. The two armed forces even conducted regular joint military exercises. The latest one was a drill of Thai-Chinese marines in Guilin, China, recently, the ambassador said. "Our security cooperation is meaningful and essential, but we don't need to advertise," he said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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