'I HAVE a Chinese surname - Li, (and) I am Li Samak,' was how Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej introduced himself to Chinese journalists as he sought to underscore the long cultural links between the two countries.
'It was 227 years ago when my ancestors from China settled down in Thailand, (and) I still keep some family rituals of Chinese tradition like presenting offerings before ancestors' tombs.'
The 73-year-old Thai leader made these comments at Bangkok's Government House recently ahead of his official visit to China.
He explained that hundreds of thousands of Chinese from the southern part of China had migrated to Thailand over the past centuries.
He added that the Thais probably know more about China than any other country, citing the example of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who travels to China regularly and speaks fluent Mandarin.
Besides Mr Samak, other top Thai politicians whose ethnic origins lie in China include former premiers Thaksin Shinawatra and Chuan Leekpai and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.