China, Thailand sign mutual visa waiver agreements

BANGKOK: Thailand and China agreed on Sunday (Jan 28) to waive visa requirements for each other’s nationals to facilitate travel and tourism between the two countries, hurt by COVID-19. 

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi signed the mutual visa exemption, which takes effect on Mar 1, at a ceremony after a meeting in Bangkok.

“This visa-free era will bring people-to-people exchanges to a new height,” Wang told a joint press conference.

China was a top source for Thailand’s tourism industry, a major driver of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy before COVID-19, but the return of Chinese tourists to Thailand has been slow.

“There will be a big increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand,” Wang said.

The number of Chinese tourists to Thailand plunged to 3.5 million last year from 11 million in 2019 before the pandemic.

Beijing and Bangkok also pledged to speed up the construction of the China-Thailand railway and work together in combating transnational crimes, Wang said.

He and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan held talks in Bangkok on Friday and Saturday about issues including bilateral relations, Taiwan and Iran.

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