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GUANGZHOU, Nov 12 — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday that he and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao agreed to speed up negotiations to construct a high speed train system in Thailand.

Mr Abhisit met Mr Wen before attending the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou which was staged in the middle of the Pearl River on Haixinsha Square.

This meeting was also the follow up after Mr Abhisit visited Beijing in June last year.

The Thai premier said during the discussion, both sides have agreed that during the past two years, the bilateral ties, trade and investment have run smoothly. Investment between two countries has incrased 50 per cent and Thai export value could possibly hit US$50,000 this year.

Both countries also agreed to draft five-year strategic economic development plan, he said.

Mr Abhisit said he has told Mr Wen that Thailand joint parliamentary meeting on Oct 26 has approved a proposed draft framework of Thailand-China negotiations to construct a high speed train system in Thailand.

The Chinese premier said the discussion should begin with the details of the routes and format of joint investment, he said.

The Thai prime minister also invited Mr Wen to visit Thailand to foster close relations between the two countries.

In this occasion, Mr Abhisit has witnessed the signing of a Letter of Intent (LOI) for promoting and distributing of Thai TV soap operas in China.

After attending opening ceremony of Asian Games, Mr Abhisit will leave for Japan to attend the 18th APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting will be held at Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture during Nov 13-14.

Moment of truth as Guangzhou readies for Asian Games

Posted by arnon_k On November - 12 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The Asian Games officially open with a glitzy gala ceremony on Friday, culminating years of planning for a massive event that is set to reinforce China’s regional sporting dominance.

The extravagenza heralds the most ambitious Asiad so far with more than 14,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries and territories angling for gold in 42 sports.

The Games run until November 27, with hosts China heavily favoured to top the medal table, with South Korea and Japan battling for second place.

“After six years of hard work, I am pleased to announce that the preparatory work of the 16th Asian Games has been completed,” said Guangzhou vice mayor Xu Ruisheng.

Security forces mounted a sweeping operation to isolate the fenced-off venue for Friday’s opening ceremony, on an island in the Pearl River, with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao due to attend.

But as dusk fell over the city thousands of people streamed to the spectacular setting near the giant Canton Tower ahead of the start at 8:00 pm (1200 GMT).

Just as Beijing did before the 2008 Olympics, Guangzhou has poured billions of dollars into getting this sprawling southern metropolis ready.

While the city does not have the glamour of Beijing and Shanghai, officials here are hoping the Games will help transform it into one of Asia’s top destinations.

In preparation, it has embarked on several huge infrastructure projects — a new rail station, a gleaming trade centre, subway lines, housing projects, highways and bridges.

It has also constructed or renovated 70 sporting facilities.

Security is a major focus, with more than 100,000 police officers on duty to keep it safe, along with hundreds of thousands of security guards and volunteers.

“As the Guangzhou Asian Games will have the most ever athletes, officials and reporters in the history of the Asian Games, the security work has been a great challenge,” a statement from the Games security panel said.

“The security panel has adopted effective and necessary measures to ensure a safe Games. We have done our best to provide a safe and favorable environment for athletes, coaches, officials and audiences.”

It all kicks off with the opening ceremony and in a change to standard procedure the show, beamed to a television of audience of billions, will be held on an island in the Pearl River rather than a stadium.

Organisers promise the largest lighting show ever seen at a major sports event, based around a theme prominently featuring the local Lingnan culture.

Film starlet Zhang Ziyi and world-renowned pianist Lang Lang will perform together in one of the highlights of the show.

“All chapters of the performances will be linked together under the theme of water, which is a traditional element of Lingnan culture,” said He Jiqing, the ceremony’s deputy director.

While the two Koreas marched together at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, 2004 Athens Olympics and 2006 Doha Asian Games in a sign of reconciliation, it appears unlikely to happen in Guangzhou.

Relations between the two neighbours remain tense after the sinking of South Korean warship, the Cheonan, in March that claimed 46 lives.

All the athletes will arrive by a convoy of pleasure boats, including those from war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Iran and the Palestinian territories.

Other than the opening ceremony, no events were held Friday with the competition proper kicking off on Saturday.

PM to visit China and Japan Nov 12-14

Posted by arnon_k On November - 11 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

BANGKOK, Nov 11 — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou, China and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Yokohama, Japan during Nov 12-14.

The opening ceremony of the Asian Games on Friday will be staged in the middle of the Pearl River on Haixinsha Square, with residential buildings and the 610-metre high Guangzhou Tower as a backdrop. The 18th APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting will be held at Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture during Nov 13-14.

Mr Abhisit said that apart from attending the Asian Games opening ceremony, his China’s visit will be the follow up trip after he visited Beijing in June last year.

The Thai prime minister will discuss with Chinese leaders to foster cooperation particularly with Guangzhou and Guangdong.

The fruit market in Guangzhou is an important national distribution centre for imported Thai bananas, durians, and lychees.

The Thai premier said he would like to focus on promoting Thai fruit in the Chinese market. Ten good quality Thai fruits were selected as gifts for very important persons who are invited to the Asian Games and Thai fruits will be on the table during the banquet for athletes.

Mr Abhisit said he was scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao who will attend the opening ceremony to follow up the wide range of bilateral cooperation including trade and investment, tourism, and railway development in Thailand.

The cooperation to promote Thai TV soap opera series in China will also be discussed, he said.

Mr Abhisit earlier told Chinese Xinhua news agency that he will witness the signing of a Letter of Intent (LOI) for promoting and distributing Thai TV series in China.

“There has been much talk about airing Thai series on Chinese television,” Mr Abhisit said. “There is so much of affinity in terms of what Thai and Chinese people like and culturally we are quite close.”

“It will be a good opportunity for us to showcase some of our entertainment,” he said.

As for the APEC Summit, Mr Abhist said the members would discuss balanced, sustainable, and fair economic growth and the future of cooperation in the region, the possibility to forge ahead with a free trade area.

Currency exchange rates will also be on the table for discussion, he said.

The meeting was expected to touch on the disasters that had impacted many countries, he said, adding that many countries worried about climate change which causes volatile weather conditions.

Typhoon Megi heads towards China

Posted by arnon_k On October - 20 - 2010 1 COMMENT

Chinese brace for storm that has killed 13 people and destroyed vast tracts of rice and corn crops in the Philippines.

After destroying huge tracts of rice and killing at least 13 people in the Philippines, Super Typhoon Megi is heading towards China, where officials have warned the storm may be the worst to strike this year.

Projections show the storm is expected to avoid Vietnam on its way towards China, with the centre passing between Hainan island and Hong Kong.

On Monday, China’s National Meteorological Centre urged local governments to make full preparations for extreme weather.

About 140,000 people have been evacuated from 15 cities on Hainan island since heavy rains reached the province on Friday, Xinhua, the official news agency, reported.

In the Philippines, thousands of people sheltered in evacuation centres as heavy rains fell on Tuesday, a day after Megi – known locally as Juan – struck the main island.

Schools were suspended in Manila and other parts of Luzon island amid fears of flash floods, while rescue workers tried to reach villagers stranded in remote areas that were cut off by the typhoon.

“A lot of people are still in danger here in Luzon, especially those areas where there is still rain,” Perfecto P Penaredondo, a disaster management official, said.

Megi was a category 5 super typhoon that packed winds in excess of 250 kph as it struck northeastern Luzon shortly before noon on Monday.

Low death toll

The death toll appeared to have been minimised by the government’s timely preparations for the storm. More than 7,000 people were evacuated and lorries were sent to help rescue and relief operations.

Alex Rosete, the national Red Cross spokesman, said four people were killed in Pangasinan province, three of them by a collapsed structure and the other by lightning.

Three other people drowned in a storm surge that hit the coastal town of Maconacon in Isabela province, which bore the brunt of the storm, Faustino Dy, the provincial governor, said.

Roads in and out of Isabela were blocked by collapsed trees, power lines and debris. Iron-sheet roofs on many of the houses were blown away.

The damage to rice and corn is still being assessed. According to an initial estimate, $36m worth of rice and corn crops were lost.

The crops were ready for harvest when the storm, the most powerful typhoon to hit the Philippines in four years, struck.

The Philippines is battered by an average of 20 typhoons a year, some of them deadly.

Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma struck the northern Philippine island of Luzon within a week of each other in September and October last year, triggering the worst flooding in recent history.

The twin storms killed more than 1,000 people, affected nearly 10 million and caused damage to $4.3bn of infrastructure and property, according to the World Bank and international humanitarian agencies.