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China and Thailand Officially Enter “Visa-Free Era” from March 1, Strengthening Bilateral Ties

Beijing, January 28, 2024, The Europe Today: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced on Sunday that China and Thailand are set to enter an official “visa-free era” starting from March 1. The announcement followed the signing of a mutual visa exemption agreement during an annual consultation between Wang Yi and Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara.

The landmark agreement is expected to elevate people-to-people exchanges between the two nations and lead to a substantial increase in Chinese tourists visiting Thailand. Wang Yi expressed his enthusiasm for the visa-free era, stating that it would bring bilateral relations to new heights.

In a joint press conference, Wang Yi emphasized the familial bond between China and Thailand, encouraging citizens of both nations to forge closer friendships and embrace a better life. The Chinese Foreign Minister commended Thailand’s commitment to the one-China principle and its active support for global initiatives, including the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative.

Wang Yi highlighted the resilience and growth of the bilateral relationship over the past 50 years, designating Thailand as a priority in China’s diplomacy with neighboring countries. With Thailand being China’s largest trading partner and the biggest source of foreign investment, the prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation are considered promising.

The two sides discussed the implementation of outcomes from previous meetings and emphasized the building of a China-Thailand community with a shared future. Wang Yi outlined areas of cooperation, including the acceleration of the China-Thailand Railway, full implementation of the China-Laos-Thailand Connectivity Development Corridor Outlook, and the expedited opening of the central line of the Trans-Asian Railway.

Both nations pledged to strengthen law enforcement and security cooperation, targeting cross-border crimes such as telecom fraud, online gambling, and drug trafficking. The Chinese Foreign Minister also announced plans to import more specialty agricultural products from Thailand and support Chinese companies in investing and growing in Thailand.

Looking towards the future, the two countries expressed a commitment to true multilateralism, open regionalism, and cooperation within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). China affirmed support for Thailand’s role in the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and the development of a Mekong-Lancang community with a shared future of peace and prosperity.

As the 50th anniversary of China-Thailand diplomatic relations approaches, both nations look forward to a new historical starting point, guided by important consensus between their leaders. Wang Yi concluded by expressing China’s readiness to deepen the building of a stable, prosperous, and sustainable China-Thailand community with a shared future.