Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (L) delivers a speech as he and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attend a luncheon with Chinese and Thai entrepreneurs in Beijing, capital of China, April 18, 2012. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)
BEIJING, April 18 (Xinhua) -- China and Thailand pledged Wednesday to boost bilateral cooperation in light of the poor state of the global economy.
"The economies of China and Thailand are highly complementary to each other and share a solid foundation for cooperation," said Vice Premier Wang Qishan at a luncheon with several hundred Chinese and Thai officials and entrepreneurs. The luncheon was also attended by visiting Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Yingluck is currently on her first official visit to China as Thailand's prime minister. On Tuesday, she and her Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao agreed to upgrade the status of China-Thai relations to a "comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership."
Wang said the upgrade will turn a new leaf for the bilateral ties between China and Thailand.
"What is critical for China and Thailand is to handle their own issues properly when facing a grim and complex global economic situation," said Wang.
Wang said the two nations should strengthen their cooperation in finance, tourism, agriculture and transport in order to expand bilateral trade to 100 billion U.S. dollars annually before 2015.
The Chinese government is encouraging domestic enterprises to invest in Thailand and make contributions to the construction of clean energy, water conservancy and railways projects in Thailand.
During the luncheon, Yingluck told the entrepreneurs that she and Wen have set a goal of increasing bilateral trade by 20 percent annually over the coming five years, as well as boosting mutual investment by 15 percent.
According to Chinese Customs statistics, China is both the largest export market and second-largest import source for Thailand. The two countries' trade volume hit 64.7 billion dollars in 2011.
Yingluck told the audience that Thailand's economy is expected to grow by 5.5 to 6.5 percent in 2012, thanks to the country's strong exports and government stimulus plans.
Yingluck invited Chinese businessmen to invest in Thailand, saying that her country can serve as a gateway for them to a 600-million-strong market in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The ten-member ASEAN includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Yingluck arrived in Beijing earlier Tuesday for her three-day visit. The first female prime minister of Thailand was accompanied by executives from about 100 Thai companies.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra delivers a speech as she and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan attend a luncheon with Chinese and Thai entrepreneurs in Beijing, capital of China, April 18, 2012. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)