Newly-appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s Southeast Asian tour signifies a move that Beijing wants to renew closer ties with its regional neighbours.
But the contentious sea territorial row between the world’s second largest economy and ASEAN remains to be a clear hurdle, despite 2013 marking the 10th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership.
In the effort to create a conducive atmosphere, Beijing proposed to host a special foreign ministerial meeting between China and ASEAN, which also in hopes to settle the issue of sea dispute. Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul has informed that the meeting will be scheduled for August; before the next regional gathering in October.
Minister Wang referred to the current regional dispute as historically critical, where he stated that it is now time for both China and ASEAN to review their relations of the previous decade and jointly move to deepen its strategic partnership forward.
Beijing has prioritized its foreign policy towards Southeast Asia in this regard.
“The Chinese government stands firm to improve friendly relations and cooperation between China and ASEAN. The emphasis on this development has been set as a top priority of China’s diplomacy.” Wang said.
Although Minister Wang’s message was clear of Beijing’s goodwill intention, China wants to resolve territorial disputes with ASEAN through dialogue.
It appears that the four countries on his Southeast Asia tour were picked for being neutral in the 10-member ASEAN bloc currently chaired by Brunei.
“China insist on solving the dispute with ‘some’ ASEAN countries through fair negotiation and beneficial cooperation,” he added. “We also hope Thailand, in its capacity as the coordinator, will play constructive role in forging the China-ASEAN ties.”
Minister Wang Yi’s southeast Asian tour does not only signal China’s drive to mend closer ties with the ASEAN bloc, but his first destination to Thailand also indicate that Beijing gives significance to the development of Thai-Chinese ties.
“China and Thailand have been close friends. Being close friend, one should help promote cooperation that brings versatile development and take into consideration the desire and need of each side.” Wang said.
He said the Chinese-Thai relation is a special one, which is comparable to a valuable treasure that ought to be cherished by both sides.
Despite the Chinese foreign minister’s insistent that the Thai-Chinese or the China-ASEAN ties are of importance to the Chinese government, the sea dispute remains a test for both the regional bloc and Asian powerhouse to work out a common ground before the October ASEAN Summit in Brunei.
Juarawee Kittisilpa reports.
The Thai government’s 2 trillion baht budget loan for transport infrastructure is under close watch as the Cabinet hasten the budget loan process and raised fear of corruption.
As China’s transition of power comes amid a pivotal point in time, we take a closer look on the intra-party democracy and the changes the country has taken in terms of society-wise and Geo-political-wise.
English Version: Aired on Krungthep Turakij TV, GlobalBiz (November 15, 2012)
Thai Version: aired on Nation Channel for ‘One World’ Program (November 15, 2012)
Nothing beats Beijing during autumn and winter. Especially if you’re from a tropical country like Thailand, where the only seasons you get are rainy, hot, rainy and hotter.
I am on an assignment to cover the 18th National Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and its once-in-a-decade transition of power.
This morning the pavement along Chang’an Avenue seems so … far … from the Great Hall of the People, the venue of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Usually, it’s a 15-minute walk from my hotel in the Wang Fu Jing Road shopping area. Today, we had to take a detour.
First, we had to brave a crowd of local and foreign tourists who were unable to enter Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City due to the tight security, which included checkpoints and barriers set up along the pavement and subway entrances to seal off a perimeter around the venue. After navigating our way through the fences we had to get through another layer of security set up around the Great Hall itself. There seemed to be a checkpoint every metre or so, not to mention police and military officers stationed at each corner of every intersection along Chang’an Avenue.
When we finally made our way to the entrance of the Great Hall, a 2,000 strong army of reporters, journalists and other media personnel were set up outside. Quite literally, the eyes of the world are on this historic event, the selection of the leaders of the world’s second-largest economy and the unveiling of China’s plans to tackle its economic issues.
The two-and-a-half-hour ceremony outlined a firm stance on China’s reform plans, aiming to convey the impression that the leaders know which direction they want to head in. One of key statements is about the underlying theme of the congress is “to uphold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
This is an interesting phrase. “Chinese characteristics” means China will continue to carry out reform of the political structure in the Chinese way; what Hu means is that Beijing will never follow in the West’s political footsteps.
As far as public perception of the congress goes, what the Chinese people most want to know can be summed up as follows: Who will eventually form the politburo, and who’s going to take up the key leadership positions? How is the government going to address the well-being of society in all respects? Will it accelerate reforms in general? And how will the party maintain its purity and uphold integrity in the political arena?
I know these are questions we are all awaiting answers to.
Hosting the Apec 2012 Summit this year leaves two ambitions for Russia — to strengthen economic cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries and to revitalize the city of Vladivostok as an economic hub for the Far East, connecting Europe and Asia.
Russian Ambassador Alexander Mariyasov has made it clear that the Asia-Pacific has become a driving force of the modern economy, due to the ongoing economic downturn in the West.
จากปัญหาเศรษฐกิจตะวันตกที่ กำลังซบเซาลง ประเทศมหาอำนาจรัสเซียกำลังดีดตัวกลับเข้ามากระชับมิตรกับประเทศในเอเชีย แปซิฟิกอีกครั้ง เพื่อขยายบทบาททางเศรษฐกิจ และเชื่อมโยงการค้าในเหลาประเทศที่กำลังเติบโตอย่างรวดเร็ว
JUARAWEE KITTISILPA | Nation Group
Recognized as world’s top oil producer, Thailand still have one of the highest fuel costs within Southeast Asia while getting the lowest returns from exporting to overseas, said ML Kornkasiwat Kasemsri from the Committee on Good Governance Promotion in the Energy Sector.
The committee found that in May alone, Thailand exported around 37 million litres per day to Singapore and elsewhere. However, it receives the lowest returns compared to other oil exporting countries in Southeast Asia.
Apart from this, the price of petroleum products sold to the general public are higher than the export prices. Thais are still using the high oil price based on the world market rate, which is quoted from the Singapore; plus other expenses such as logistics –to and from Singapore to Bangkok- and miscellaneous costs.
The good governance promotion on energy sector commission said this practice is stated by the petroleum law that Thais have to buy petroleum at an import price rate.
“We have to understand that both the crude oil and natural gas in Thailand are the resources that belong to the Thai people since the country announced democracy in 1932. But if the people are still spending so high on oil prices, how is Thailand going ‘prosper beyond and forever’? It won’t happen”, he added.
“Thailand is now leading Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, and many more countries as oil producer and exporter but with the lowest returns. While domestically, we have the highest petroleum price compared to Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. I’m afraid Thailand will not be the one to beat in the long-run.”
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIS) of the United States, Thailand now ranks the 24th out of some 200 countries as the world natural gas producer, while placing on the 5th among the OPEC countries; beating a total of 8 countries in the petroleum exporting grouping. As for crude oil, Thailand is rank on the 33rd as world’s producer by OPEC’s Annual Statistical Bulletin.
Today, the total of the country’s production of both oil and gas have accounted to over 900-thousand barrel per day or around 150 million litre per day, while the Thai people are only using around 73 million litre a day, he said.
The energy monitoring commissioner also showed concerns that the country has no price competition for fuel products, as a result of having all 5 of 6 oil refineries owned by one major stakeholder.
“We may see that there are many gas station brands, but that’s only the foreground. Behind it is the main stakeholder that owns 5 major refineries which has a total of 87% of the production capacity.” He said.
Governments after governments have never look into this matter seriously or cure the problem at its core, he said, not only the way it manages natural resources is outdated, but the petroleum law dates back to around 40 years ago.
He explained that after the 2004 incident, where the global oil price shot up over 100 dollar per barrel from 28 dollars, every country adjusted their laws to help ease the people’s burden and for their countries to receive the most benefit. But Thailand remains to be the only country that insisted to stay as it is.
“Back then we may not have the know-how in drilling up oil by ourselves, but now we do. We ought to learn to manage it well for the country’s benefit or otherwise we might not be able to catch up with ASEAN.”