Thailand says it will help China bring about a peaceful resolution to a South China Sea dispute as the kingdom prepares to assume the role of Asean coordinator for China later this month.
Foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said China had expressed concern over the South China Sea conflict where four Asean members _ the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia _ have been in dispute with China over ownership of the Spratly Islands.
The issue was raised in talks between Surapong and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing this week.
Thailand will take over the role of Asean-China relations coordinator from Vietnam later this month.
“Thailand’s stance is to strive for peace in the South China Sea. We would like claimant countries to resolve the conflict through negotiations,” Surapong said.
“Thailand, as the Asean-China coordinator, would like China to have confidence that during our three-year term, the kingdom will play a role in making China happy,” Surapong told Yang.
He said Thailand was ready to talk with the claimant countries to identify their needs and common ground.
The South China Sea row will be discussed at the Asean Foreign ministers meeting in Phnom Penh next week.
The Asean meeting next week will encourage East Asian countries including China, Japan and South Korea to cooperate more at the ministerial level under Asean Connectivity+3.
Thailand also has proposed China set up a logistics committee at the ministerial level to discuss the North-South Corridor link between Yunnan in China and northern Thailand, the minister said. Surapong said Thailand and China are expected to conclude the terms of reference for a high-speed train linking Bangkok and Chiang Mai by October. The final ToR will be announced early next year.
The Chinese government had said it welcomed more cooperation between the military of both countries, he said.
As for water management, the minister thanked the Chinese government for sending its experts to help plan management of water resources in Thailand.
Surapong said the ministry would brief foreign embassies on the water management ToR today.
Both Thai and foreign companies specialising in water management will be selected to lay out a sustainable water management plan.