Korn Dabbaransi, a former Thai Vice Prime Minister and President of the Thailand-China Friendship Association, has visited China more than 150 times since the 1970s & witnessed the robust economic development and enormous social change in China over the past four decades.
In a recent interview, Korn shared his views on China’s economic growth, the Belt & Road Initiative and the deep rooted China-Thailand Friendship.
“For China, I will use the word ‘Economy Evolution”
Korn was among the first Official Thai delegation that visited China in April 1975. He worked as second secretary to Chatichai Choonhavan, then Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Recalling his first visit to the Chinese capital, he said, “I stood in front of the Peking (Beijing) Hotel. Looking to the left. Looking to the right. There were so many bicycles. No cars. Once in a while, you would see a black car driving by… People were dressed in blue and grey, with hats.”
With limited transportation options, bicycles were a vital part of everyday life in Beijing in the 1970s.
“Last month I went to Beijing again for a meeting. I stood at the same spot where I stood then. Forty four years has passed, the development of Beijing is just a miracle to me. The economic success of China has been the most popular subject everyone has been talking about for the past four or five years. But they didn’t see how China was 44 years ago.”
What equally impressed him were the massive changes in Shenzhen in Southern China’s Guangdong Province, now a tech hub.
In 1978, Korn visited Shenzhen with a group of Thai officials under the invitation of Deng Xiaoping, who initiated China’s reform and opening-up. The Southern Chinese city was no more than a fishing village back then.
“Deng Xiaoping said the idea of (baihua qifang) let all flowers bloom and (wanxiang gengxin) everything looks fresh again,” Korn recollected.
“We went to Shenzhen. There was nothing there. It was a small fishing village in 1978. And baihua qifang has become a reality, 40 years later. In 2018, I was invited to Shenzhen again to make a speech about the past 40 years of baihua qifang, and Shenzhen has become the most advanced digital technical city of the world… From that day, which I witnessed with my own eyes: There was nothing.”
“If you want to talk about the economic success of China, I would not use ‘economy development’. For China, I will use ‘economy evolution’. From that day in 1978 until today, this is truly ‘economy evolution’ in the most tenable manner.”
Touching on the Chinese Belt & Road Initiative, Korn said;
He would translate the Belt & Road Initiative to “belt of peace and road to prosperity.”
“Peace must come before prosperity. This is a message China sends to the world. China strongly supports peace. Once we achieve peace, we can sit together and explore how to create prosperity for people around the world,” he said.
‘China & Thailand are Close as One Family’
“I myself am a fourth generation Thai of Chinese origin. We came from Chaozhou (in Southern China’s Guangdong province) the Lim family,” Korn said.
According to Korn, there are a lot of Thai people of Chinese descent, especially in Bangkok, and a large number of Dai people in Xishuangbanna (Southwest China’s Yunnan province) originated from Thailand.
“There are very unique reasons why zhongtai yijiaqin (China and Thailand are as close as one family). We are from the same origin,” he added.
Sending his best wishes for the friendship of the two countries and his messages to the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China, Korn said, “I wish to send our congratulations on the 70th Anniversary.
I would also like to congratulate on the enormous success of the economic development of the country, which has been globally recognised by people around the world. “