Thai PM calls for closer ASEAN-China collaboration to address challenges

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(Xinhua) — Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday called for enhanced collaboration between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China to address challenges and jointly achieve common future goals.

Prayut made the statement in Bangkok during the 24th ASEAN-China Summit via video conferencing, saying that health security remains the top priority, in which both ASEAN and China should continue enhancing cooperation in response to COVID-19 and future emerging diseases.

A particular focus should be put on research and development of safe and effective vaccines and medicines as well as the establishment of vaccine production and distribution centers in ASEAN, he said.

He noted that in the long run, public health preparedness should be strengthened in all dimensions to reduce casualty rates and more effectively respond to future emerging diseases and public health emergency situations.

Economic security towards sustainable recovery and long-term resilience should also be a focus of closer ASEAN-China collaboration, according to Prayut. “Thailand supports upgrading of the ASEAN-China free trade agreement and is expediting its internal process to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with a view to the early entry into force of this agreement,” he said.

Prayut expressed belief that ASEAN and China would mutually benefit from cooperation towards digital transformation, particularly by utilizing innovations and digital technology to drive the economy and add value to goods and services, as well as enhancing the potentials of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups and local entrepreneurs, while taking into account the negative impacts on cyber security.

He also called for closer cooperation between the two sides on sustainable development, saying cooperation under the Bio-Circular-Green Economy or the BCG Model should also be explored to pave the way towards inclusive, balanced and sustainable recovery and growth.

Thailand supports China’s unceasing development as a “responsible great power” and expects China to continue its leading role in promoting cooperation in all aspects with the international community, including ASEAN and other developing countries, he said.

Prayut also emphasized the importance of durable peace for ASEAN and China to move towards a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Thailand stands ready to continue a constructive role in promoting win-win cooperation, such as marine environmental protection, and fully supports the implementation of relevant ASEAN-China mechanisms, he said.

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