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BRI bonanza for regional and world development

By Yang Wanli in Bangkok | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-08 09:33

As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, China's continuing promotion of peaceful development and win-win cooperation through vital infrastructure projects bodes well for the Asia-Pacific region, a Thai researcher said.

Since it was proposed, the BRI "has become a major driver of economic development of the world as it is connecting China with many countries", said Wirun Phichaiwongphakdee, director of the Thailand-China Research Center of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The initiative reflects the idea of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and it will be "very supportive to the world development as we are now facing bigger challenges in promoting multilateralism, free trade and regional peace", he said.

In 2017, China and Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation on the BRI. Since then, cooperation between the two sides has deepened and "personnel exchanges have also boomed", he said.

Thanks to the initiative, Wirun said the two countries have enjoyed smooth communication without barriers and traditional good neighborly relations with deep mutual trust, which he considers as two major outstanding achievements over the past 10 years.

"More importantly, China has conveyed to the world an important message through the (BRI) that it has been, and will keep, pursuing a peaceful development road with the world. China did what it promised and showed strong responsibility, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic."

He lauded China's efforts in combating the pandemic and helping the world by supplying vaccines to many countries in need. "At the time when the (pandemic) struck Thailand most severely, Chinese vaccines played a very important role and saved numerous lives," he said.

The building of closer regional industrial and supply chains is a very important aspect of Asia-Pacific cooperation, which will help the region cope with risks and ensure stability and prosperity, he said.

"The Asia-Pacific economy is at a crucial period of post-COVID recovery," Wirun said, noting that turmoil and changes in international politics and economies are posing a serious challenge for the region's development. Against this backdrop, peaceful development and win-win cooperation are the path toward a better future, he said.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have emerged as a significant part of the BRI road map, he said. Speaking of Thailand in particular, he said that in addition to the country's strategic location in the heart of ASEAN, there will be impetus for greater cooperation between Thailand and China in the coming years.

Industries of priority

China is very strong in several industries that Thailand has identified as priorities, such as digital and software development, electric vehicles and automotive parts, automation and robotics, he said.

With this in mind, the Thai government has developed a number of infrastructure and special projects such as the Eastern Economic Corridor to serve as an incubator hub for startups and human resource development.

The BRI is expected to be a platform for high-quality communication for the world and contribute to the changing international landscape that is at a critical transition period, he said.

"China is the major growth engine for economic development of the Asia-Pacific and the world, and its manufacturing sectors are known for high quality and high efficiency. For Thailand, we hope to see a deepening cooperation with China to further boost regional development."

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