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Festive celebrations to bring joy, wishes in Thailand

By YANG WANLI in Bangkok | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-02-03 07:11

Sudawan Wangsuphakitkoson, Thai minister of tourism and sports (left), and Han Zhiqiang, Chinese ambassador to Thailand (center), give gifts to people on board the BTS Skytrain in Bangkok on Friday. YANG WANLI/CHINA DAILY

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, officials from Thailand's tourism authorities and the Chinese embassy jointly announced a series of public activities on Friday, calling for deeper cooperation on culture and tourism between the two countries.

This year's Chinese New Year falls on Feb 10. Based on the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Dragon. The Chinese believe that the dragon represents dignity, prestige and auspiciousness.

The mascot for the Year of the Dragon is "Jixiang Long", a lucky dragon featuring a welcoming gesture and a smiley face, auspicious cloud ears and a gold ingot-shaped nose.

A wide range of celebrations, including concerts, art exhibitions, performances and light shows, will be held across Thailand. In the capital Bangkok, a light show kicked off on Friday evening in Chinatown.

On Friday morning, the Chinese ambassador to Thailand, together with ministers from both the Thai Ministry of Culture and the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports, visited the BTS Skytrain in Bangkok, giving gifts to passengers as good wishes for the Chinese New Year.

In Thailand, Chinese New Year is mostly celebrated by the Thai-Chinese communities. Traditional celebratory events include lion and dragon dances and fireworks, which attract participants ranging from the Royal family to the general public.

"We'd be happy to share the joy and best wishes for the most important Chinese holiday with not only people in Thailand, but also friends from the rest of the world," Han Zhiqiang, Chinese ambassador to Thailand, said.

He noted that China and Thailand signed an agreement on mutual visa exemption a few days ago — a historical move that is expected to boost people-to-people exchanges as well as cooperation between the two countries.

Even closer relation

"The agreement will also bring the two countries that have formed a strategic partnership into an even closer relation and contribute to our joint efforts of building a Sino-Thai community with a shared future," Han said.

At a news conference on Friday, Sudawan Wangsuphakitkoson, minister of tourism and sports, expressed confidence in the surge of incoming Chinese tourists during the Chinese New Year holiday.

She estimated that about 8 million Chinese tourists will visit Thailand this year due to the visa-free agreement, which will take effect on March 1.

Sudawan said the visa-free agreement provides a great opportunity for people from the two countries to have deeper cooperation and exchanges. She also extended a warm welcome to Chinese tourists who will be attending the traditional Thai New Year celebration, known as Songkran, in April.

As this year also marks 49 years of diplomatic relations between Thailand and China, Culture Minister Sermsak Pongpanich said China and Thailand will see closer cultural collaborations in the future.

"The visa-free era will bring vitality to the two countries' strategic partnership," he said. "A boom of cultural exchanges is on the way, which will also strengthen our tie and long-term friendship."



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