BANGKOK, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visit to Thailand will enhance bilateral relations and expand the mutually beneficial cooperation, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan has said.
Thailand and China enjoy a long-standing friendly relationship and have been engaged in practical cooperation in a wide range of areas including trade, investment, education and culture, Niwatthamrong, who is also minister of commerce, told Xinhua in an interview ahead of Li's visit starting on Friday.
Niwatthamrong said the Chinese premier's visit to Thailand will uplift bilateral relations and cooperation to a higher level.
"During Premier Li's visit, we expect not only to review the progress that we have already made, but also add some new contents to our cooperation for the joint benefits of the two countries," he said.
Noting that one of the highlights of Thailand-China relations is the frequent high-level contact, Niwatthamrong said the two countries' leaders, in their successful mutual visits over recent years, have mapped out the future development of bilateral relations.
During Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's visit to China last year, the two sides agreed to lift bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
In addition, economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has maintained a sound momentum of development in recent years, with bilateral trade reaching nearly 70 billion U.S. dollars last year and targeting 100 billion dollars by 2015, said Niwatthamrong.
China has become the largest trading partner of Thailand, as well as the largest source of foreign visitors and the second largest source of investment, he said.
The two sides have agreed on four key cooperation areas, including railway, water management, clean energy and education, and have inked a series of cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding.
Niwatthamrong spoke highly of China's experience and technology in building high-speed railways and hoped that China can play a "major" role in Thailand's high-speed railway projects.
The two countries also enjoy frequent people-to-people exchanges, said Niwatthamrong, adding that Chinese visitors to Thailand topped 2.8 million person-times last year, an increase of nearly 60 percent year-on-year.
On regional cooperation, the deputy prime minister said Thailand has served as a coordinator of China-ASEAN relations for two years and has made positive contribution to boosting the economic and trade cooperation between the two sides.
He pledged that Thailand will work jointly with other ASEAN members and China to forge an upgraded version of China-ASEAN free trade agreement and achieve the target of boosting two-way trade to 500 billion dollars in 2015.
Cooperation between China and Thailand in various fields will help strengthen China's relations with the ASEAN, he added.