Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) attends a welcoming ceremony hosted by his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra before their meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 11, 2013. (Xinhua/Liu Jiansheng)
BANGKOK, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has reached wide consensus with Thai leaders on further deepening bilateral ties based on the "familial affection" between the two countries.
China-Thailand ties have played an exemplary and leading role in China's relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Li said during a meeting here with his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the development of bilateral ties with Thailand, he said, adding that his country stands ready to expand high-level exchange of visits and pursue closer relations with the Southeast Asian country.
Beijing is also ready to work with Bangkok to implement the Joint Action Plan on China-Thailand Strategic Cooperation and a memorandum of understanding on sustainable development so as to benefit the peoples of both countries.
The Chinese premier called for full play of the mechanism of an economic and trade committee between the two countries, and closer cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, investment, agricultural trade and processing, and electricity.
China is also willing to actively participate in the construction of high-speed railways in Thailand and promote regional inter-connectivity.
In order to deepen financial cooperation, Li encouraged the enterprises of the two countries to settle bilateral trade in RMB, and explore the increase in the size of bilateral currency swap, saying that China will consider the establishment of RMB clearing banks in Thailand.
Meanwhile, he called for closer people-to-people exchanges, start of talks on visa exemption for regular passport holders and strengthened cooperation in culture and education so as to promote the friendship between the peoples of the two countries.
China is now the largest trading partner of Thailand, with bilateral trade reaching nearly 70 billion U.S. dollars last year and targeting 100 billion dollars by 2015.
Thailand is China's second largest trading partner in the 10-member ASEAN, and serves as the country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations.
Tao Wenzhao, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China's ever-expanding economic strength is a strong backing for building regional integration, adding that China's fast economic growth will continue contributing to regional economy.
During Li's visit to Thailand, the two countries agreed, in a joint document issued on Friday, that their relations have entered a new stage since they forged the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in 2012.
China and Thailand have agreed on a multi-pronged proposal to advance bilateral practical cooperation in various fields, in order to benefit the two peoples and make contributions to peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world at large.
Regarding the South China Sea issue, the two countries hold that disputes should be peacefully resolved by sovereign countries directly concerned through friendly consultation and negotiation based on international law.
Pending the final settlement, all relevant parties should shelve disputes and seek joint development of the sea.
China will work more closely with Thailand to effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and boost consultations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea based on the principle of consensus-building, so as to make it a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
Ruan Zongze, vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the South China Sea issue would not be an obstacle to the development of relations between China and ASEAN countries.
During his stay here, Li frequently stressed the "familial affection" between China and Thailand, asking both countries to jointly plan for the future, deepen practical cooperation, speed up inter-connectivity construction and enhance people-to-people exchanges.
China would use its investment and high-speed railway technology to help Thailand build hi-tech facilities that would consequently contribute to regional inter-connectivity.
In his visit to a Chinese language-teaching school in Chiang Mai, Li called for more Chinese education resources and opportunities to Thai students.
While in Thailand, Li also met the Thai royal family in Bangkok and the site of the Royal Flora International Horticultural Exposition in Chiang Mai.
Later Friday, the Chinese premier left Thailand for an official visit to Vietnam, the third and last leg of his maiden trip to Southeast Asia since he took office in March.
Before visiting Thailand, Li paid an official visit to Brunei, where he attended a series of meetings with East Asian leaders.