Integrity Legal

28th August 2013

It is being reported that the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand is attending a joint ASEAN-China summit which will include China’s foreign minister and the Foreign Ministers of the other  members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote from the Thai Government’s Public Relations Department website:

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul is attending and co-chairing the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 28-29 August 2013 in Beijing. The meeting is part of this year’s commemorative activities to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership. ASEAN and Chinese Foreign Ministers will discuss future direction of ASEAN-China relations, including ways to advance ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership to a higher plane. They will also discuss key recommendations which were the result of the High-Level Forum on 10th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership, held in Bangkok on 2 August 2013. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the special meeting is a good opportunity for ASEAN and China Foreign Ministers to discuss various issues of common interests, which will pave the way to the successful 16th ASEAN-China Summit, to be held in Brunei Darussalam in October 2013.

Many issues of importance both to China and the ASEAN states are likely to be discussed including issues which touch upon economics in the region, human rights, and immigration policies. Concurrently, the ASEAN members have also been discussing the prospect of a single ASEAN visa scheme for sometime now. Although, as of the time of this writing, no such scheme exists there are those who would argue that such a development would encourage tourism in the ASEAN states (particularly from China and other Asian nations) and cross-border business expansion.

With respect to immigration policy in Thailand, recent developments in the Kingdom and at Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad have caused Thai Immigration officials and the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin discussing new methods for issuing visas in an effort to combat immigration fraud. As a large number of Thai visas stickers have been reported stolen and Citizens of various countries outside of Thailand have been detained for using inappropriately obtained visa stickers Thai authorities may begin rethinking the current system for issuing Thai visas. To quote from a different page on the Government Public Relations Department website.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary stated a long term solution to the problem [of fraudulently obtained "visas"] is to use electronics visa (E-VISA), a measure that Thailand is planning to implement at the end of next year.

It will be interesting to see how Thailand implements such as system especially as Thai visa issuance practices and security precautions are coming under scrutiny. Many nations around the world use e-visa systems when issuing travel documents to foreign nationals. The United States currently even requires those attempting to enter the U.S. on the visa waiver program to pre-enroll themselves in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system prior to traveling.

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