China and Thailand signed an agreement on mutual visa exemption for holders of ordinary passports and passports for public affairs on Sunday. The policy, which will come into effect on March 1, is expected to boost people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.
The agreement was a major outcome during the first meeting of consultation mechanism between the ministers of foreign affairs of Thailand and China, which was held in Bangkok.
At a news conference in the Thai capital, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said: "It's important that peoples from the two countries have forged closer friendships and stronger bonds, and are now embracing a better life."
There will be a big increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand, Wang said. "We also welcome friends from Thailand to feel the vitality and vibrancy of China and the hospitality of the Chinese people."
At the news conference, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said the visa-free agreement is a symbol of long-lasting Sino-Thai friendship, trust and confidence, which is evidenced at every level.
"The meeting is a significant step in our cooperation, held at the level of foreign ministers of both countries, and we have agreed to alternately host at least once every year," he said. "I am certain that travel between our two peoples, whether for tourism or business, will become more convenient, and help to stimulate the tourism industry in both countries."
As next year will mark the 50th anniversary of China-Thailand diplomatic relations, Wang said China highly commends China-Thailand friendship and mutual trust. The bilateral relationship between the two countries has withstood the test of the changing international landscape and grown from strength to strength over the past half a century, he said.
"China always sees Thailand as a priority in its diplomacy with neighboring countries, and supports Thailand in following a development path that suits its national conditions," Wang stressed.
He also noted that China appreciates Thailand's firm commitment to the one-China principle and its active support for the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative.
"China is ready to work with Thailand to jointly deepen the building of a more stable, prosperous and sustainable China-Thailand community with a shared future, and provide more stability and certainty to a changing and turbulent world," Wang said.
To strengthen the cooperation with China, Parnpree said Thailand is committed to promoting trade, investment, security and cooperation on culture and tourism, to facilitating connectivity, people-to-people relations, and to advancing cooperation at various multilateral and regional forums.
During the meeting on Sunday, both sides also agreed to speed up development of the China-Thailand Railway, fully implement the China-Laos-Thailand Connectivity Development Corridor Outlook, and open the central line of the Trans-Asian Railway as soon as possible.
The two countries signed agreements on the export of poultry meat and podocarpus plants to China. Podocarpus is a versatile, low-maintenance plant for landscaping.
China will import more specialty agricultural products from Thailand, support more Chinese companies in investing and growing in Thailand, and foster new drivers of cooperation in new energy vehicles, digital economy and green development.
During the meeting, the two ministers also exchanged views on current key regional and international situations, including the situation in Myanmar, the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East.