Taiwan mourns death of Thai king

President Tsai Ing-wen extended her condolences to the government and people of Thailand over the passing away of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday.

The president's spokesman Alex Huang quoted Tsai as saying Thailand has become a modern country under the wise and kind leadership of King Bhumibol, who was deeply loved and respected by the Thais.

Bhumibol's outstanding contribution to Thailand's development into a modern country is well recognized by the international community, Tsai was quoted as saying.

"His passing is not only mourned by the Thai people, but also by the international community," said the president.

The president and Premier Lin Chuan have asked Taiwan's representative office in Bangkok to forward the government and people's condolences and sympathy to the Thais, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

The King and his wife visited Taipei in June 1963, ushering in a long period of close cooperation between Thailand and the Republic of China.

In 1969, then-Defense Minister Chiang Ching-kuo visited the Thai King in Bangkok as a special envoy of the ROC government.

In 1971, when members of the United Nations were voting on the issue of Chinese representation in the world body, Thailand abstained from voting -- refusing to acknowledge that the Beijing regime was the sole legal representative of the whole of China.

And even after Thailand severed diplomatic ties with the ROC in July 1975, switching its embassy to Beijing, it still maintained close and cooperative ties with Taiwan.

A well-known cooperation project between Thailand and Taiwan is the Thailand Royal Project launched in the 1970s, during which Taiwan helped the Southeast Asian country to replace opium poppies in northern Thailand with economic crops.

In 1993, the project was transformed into a foundation by the same name and agricultural cooperation was carried out between the two countries' civilian groups.

In early 1994, President Lee Teng-hui made a "private" visit to Thailand in spite of strong objections from China. During the visit, Lee met Bhumibol to discuss economic cooperation projects.

Lee's visit was seen as a breakthrough achievement in his "southbound policy." Tsai has adopted a "new southbound policy" to reduce Taiwan's economic reliance on China.

Thailand is among the top-ten trade partners of Taiwan, and it is Taiwanese people's top tourism destination among Southeast Asian countries.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council