China not forcing countries to take sides – Chinese envoy
China has no desire to engage in a Cold War with the US and has no intention of forcing countries in the region to choose sides, said Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Han Zhiqiang.
He also pledged to work for closer ties and cooperation between China and Thailand which he described as “one family”.
The ambassador was speaking to a group of Thai journalists in an on-line discussion organized by the Chinese Embassy on Wednesday which covered a wide range of issues, from bilateral Chinese-Thai relations and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to the ongoing geopolitical tensions with the US.
The forum was the latest in what is seen as part of what the Chinese ambassador admitted to be pro-active Chinese diplomacy to create better public understanding of China. Since taking up his post in August, Han has been meeting representatives of the business circles and the media in Bangkok.
The need to speak out, he said, has been made more necessary by what he described as attempts by certain countries to paint a negative picture of China.
“There are some countries which have been slandering China. We need to respond to counter the negative perception about China they try to create,” he said.
Han insisted that China is committed to pursuing peaceful development and peaceful co-existence in the Indo-Pacific region and rejected the “zero sum game” being played by the US which he said is creating division in this part of the world.
He also criticized what he described as the US attempts to hinder China’s development and in the process putting countries in the region in a difficult situation.
“We urge the US to cooperate with China to work for peaceful development in the region,” he said.
The ambassador said China does not wish to engage in a Cold War with the US and insisted that countries in the region should not be forced to take sides.
On Chinese-Thai relations, Han said Beijing will continue to work closely with Thailand in helping the country cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. He said Beijing so far has donated one million doses of vaccines against the virus to Thailand.
“True friends are friends in times of need,” he said.
Han also gave an assurance that priority will be given to Thai students who are among foreign students waiting to return to China. Since the outbreak of the pandemic last March, China has closed its borders and has yet to reopen to foreign students.
He said authorities concerned are finding ways to help Thai students to return to class in China as soon as possible.
By Thepchai Yong