Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha called for enhanced collaboration between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China at the 24th ASEAN-China Summit on Tuesday.
Via videoconferencing from Government House in Bangkok, Prayut congratulated the Chinese government on the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the eradication of absolute poverty and for building a prosperous society earlier than planned.
Thailand supported China’s unceasing development as a “responsible great power” and expected China to continue its leading role in promoting cooperation in all aspects with the international community including ASEAN and developing countries, he said.
Prayut expressed pleasure at participating in the special summit on the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China relations and shared his views on how ASEAN and China should enhance collaboration to address challenges and achieve common future goals.
First, health security was top priority, he said. ASEAN and China should continue cooperating in response to COVID-19 and emerging diseases with a focus on research and development of vaccines and medicines as well as the establishment of vaccine production and distribution centers within ASEAN.
In the long run, public health preparedness should be strengthened in all dimensions, from upstream to downstream, to reduce casualty rates and more effectively respond to future emerging diseases and public health emergency situations, Prayut said.
Second, ASEAN and China should focus on sustainable, long-term economic recovery and resilience. As China is ASEAN’s top economic partner, Prayut expressed pleasure that an outcome document was adopted to reaffirm a shared commitment to implementing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.
Thailand also supports upgrading the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement and is expediting its internal process to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 member states.
The Thai prime minister believed that ASEAN and China would also benefit from cooperation on digital transformation, innovation and technology.
Digital transformation would add value to goods and services, enhance the potential of micro, small and medium enterprises, start-ups and local entrepreneurs, while taking into account negative impacts on cybersecurity, he said.
Third, sustainable development was at the heart of “our steady steps forward together,” Prayut said.
Thailand, as ASEAN coordinator for sustainable development cooperation, was committed to continuing its constructive role in promoting activities under the 2021-2022 ASEAN-China Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation inaugurated in May, he said.
Cooperation should also be explored under the bio-circular-green (BCG) economic model to pave the way towards inclusive, balanced and sustainable recovery and growth, he said.
Prayut emphasized the importance of maintaining durable peace amidst the dynamics of complex regional and international situations in order for ASEAN and China to move towards a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Thailand realized the importance of upholding ASEAN centrality and ASEAN-centered regional architecture, Prayut explained, and did not wish to see conflicts or confrontation among friends.
Thailand attached great importance to dialogue to find common solutions to the South China Sea issue, he said.
Bangkok stood ready to continue its constructive role in marine environmental protection and supports implementation of relevant ASEAN-China mechanisms, especially negotiations towards an early conclusion of an effective and substantive South China Sea Code of Conduct in accordance with international law, Prayut concluded.