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Thaksin, Jiang break bread

May 10, 2001

PRIME Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday held what were described as "cordial and rewarding" talks with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

In a frank exchange of opinions, the two leaders preferred to focus on the broad outlook and macro issues facing their two countries rather than going into the fine details of bilateral relations, leaving those aspects to Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji during his May 19 to 22 visit to Thailand.

Thai officials had earlier planned for the prime minister to discuss bilateral relations, rice trade and cooperation on narcotics suppression with the Chinese leader.

During the talks - held at the Harbour Plaza Hotel - Jiang waxed expansively on East-West relations, saying it had become necessary for Asian countries to accelerate their technologies and production to keep up with the West.

He repeated the message he delivered on Tuesday at the opening of the Fortune Global Forum.

That speech focussed on the "unyielding struggle" of Asian peoples over the course of the 20th century to win national independence and liberation, get rid of poverty and backwardness, and bring about development and prosperity.

"We scored a remarkable achievement," he said. But the Chinese leader was quick to add that without technological progress and productivity growth, Asian countries would continue to lag behind the West in terms of standards of living and geo-political status.

Thaksin reportedly described himself to Jiang as being part of a new generation of leaders that understands technology. He said he was an engineer himself and the two men spoke the same language.

"The atmosphere of the talks was very cordial. It's quite good that we have an opportunity to build up the acquaintance," said Thaksin after the meeting.

"Our relationship with China is very special and deep. In the eyes of the Chinese leadership, Thailand is a very important country," said PM's Office Minister Pitak Intrawityanunt.

Jiang urged Thaksin to join the leadership summit of the Asia-Pacific and Economic Cooperation to be held in Shanghai in October, and then continue with an official visit to China. Thaksin responded to the invitation positively.

The Chinese leader also told his Thai counterpart about the dilemma facing the People's Republic, which is continuing to open up its economy and embrace globalisation. Jiang described globalisation as a double-edged sword, with both benefits and drawbacks for his country.

Thanong Khanthong






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