CHINA / POLITICS
A Thai Princess who Travels Throughout China
Published: Jul 12, 2021 11:56 AM
She is the Princess of Thailand, and the first Thai royal family member to visit China. She is the envoy of friendship, and the recipient of China's Friendship Medal. She is adept at literature, music and painting, and is very much into the Chinese culture. She is Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

HRH Princess Sirindhorn receives the Friendship Medal in 2019

HRH Princess Sirindhorn receives the Friendship Medal in 2019


The Princess recollected that she knew about China at a very young age, and heard its radio programs when Thailand was yet to bond diplomatic ties with the newly established People's Republic. Official diplomatic relations were established in 1975, and in 1980, she started to learn the Chinese language as advised by her mother. "My mother said that the Chinese people enjoy reading and learning, and that I can learn more knowledge if I could understand Chinese. She was proven right." The Princess paid her first visit to China the following year, and said during her meeting with Mr. Deng Xiaoping that Thailand and China enjoy close and friendly relations because the two peoples of the East share many things in common in terms of tradition and perceptions.

By now, the Princess has paid nearly 50 visits to China, covering almost all its provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. She has published several travel notes on her trips to China including Treading the Dragon Land and Forward A-Far the Sand Streams, and a book A Return To Motherland of China to share with the Thai people the historic moment of Hong Kong's return to China in 1997.

In 2001, the Princess made a special study trip to Peking University to learn Chinese language and culture, and received an honorary doctorate. Later, she compiled another travel journal A Student Abroad based on diaries and photos during this period. She has been visiting the Peking University almost every year after the study trip, enjoying her deep connections with its faculties, and offering strong support to them. In 2005, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of China-Thailand diplomatic relations and the 50th birthday of HRH Princess Sirindhorn, Peking University set up the Sirindhorn Science and Technology Cultural Exchange Center, an academic exchange institution named after the Thai Princess, as an eternal birthday gift.

HRH Princess Sirindhorn making a birthday wish at her 60th birthday celebration organized by Peking University in 2015

HRH Princess Sirindhorn making a birthday wish at her 60th birthday celebration organized by Peking University in 2015

HRH Princess Sirindhorn writing a Chinese calligraphy “Power of Youth” at the PKU Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center in 2017

HRH Princess Sirindhorn writing a Chinese calligraphy “Power of Youth” at the PKU Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center in 2017


The Princess loves Chinese literature and has translated many Chinese literature works into the Thai language. She published her translation of poems of the Tang and Song dynasties in the book Verses of Clear Jade, and composed verses in Chinese such as: Chinese and Thai are brothers; our fraternity lasts forever (literal translation). Advocated by the Princess, her alma mater the Chulalongkorn University set up a Confucius Institute in cooperation with the Peking University.

Every Spring Festival, the Princess would visit Chinatown in Bangkok offering new year greetings to the local Chinese community. She has attended significant events such as the handovers of Hong Kong and Macao and the Beijing Olympics, and firmly supported China on issues vital to its major interests. She once said that the diligence and perseverance of the Chinese people are inherent of the traditional Chinese culture, and that in the future China will be more advanced, make more breakthroughs in scientific research, and achieve sustainable development and long-term stability.

In the wake of the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the Princess  organized immediate donations in cash and in-kind to China. When visiting Mianyang in 2009, she decided to fund the rebuilding of a school, and made a personal donation of over 10 million yuan to Mianyang Xianfenglu Sirindhorn Primary School. In 2018, she paid a commemorative visit and laid flowers at the earthquake site in the old Beichuan County. Before leaving the site, the Princess said that when Thailand was hit by the tsunami, the Red Cross Society of China offered immediate help, especially to many fishing villages. And those fishermen who were previously beneficiaries of China's assistance quickly mobilized after the Wenchuan earthquake to raise donations for China. This, according to the Princess, is the most vivid demonstration of the deep friendship between the two peoples. 

HRH Princess Sirindhorn visits the earthquake site in the old Beichuan County and lays flowers in 2018

HRH Princess Sirindhorn visits the earthquake site in the old Beichuan County and lays flowers in 2018


 
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Princess Sirindhorn gave a joint written interview to Chinese media in Thailand. She commended the efforts of the Chinese government and people over the past seven decades in overcoming numerous difficulties and developing the country, and applauded the resolute, hardworking and learning spirit of the Chinese people and China's leaders as the key to the country's steady course towards prosperity. This is what she wrote on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China: I wish China continued progress, prosperity, stability and even greater achievements; and I wish the Chinese people happiness and well-being.
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