Thailand strengthens ties with China


The National Council for Peace and Order chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha sent special envoy Dr Somkid to deliver a message of friendship and cooperation to the Chinese president. The meeting was aimed at stepping up ties between the two countries that will see China’s participation in Thailand’s infrastructure projects. They include the high-speed train and water management projects among other investments.

The two countries have had no history of conflict nor any territorial disputes and many Thais are of ethnic Chinese descent. For many years, Thailand has served as a bridge between China and the rest of the region in that there remains historical memories of certain ethnic frictions between some of Thailand’s neighbours. However, China is continuing with its search for loyal friends in Southeast Asia and the opportunity for strengthening the Bangkok-Beijing ties is seen by many to be refreshing.

China confirmed that would continue to buy Thai rice and rubber, as well as other agricultural goods. Dr Somkid said that Thailand’s NCPO’s is committed to a broader and deeper relationships between the two countries. The Chinese leaders said that Beijing considered Thailand a vital strategic partner and was also very keen on strengthening relations between the two countries. According to Ernie Bower of CSIS, “China has been investing an incredible amount of energy in Thailand.”

Meanwhile, Cambodia’s deputy prime minister put his support behind the Thai military’s campaign to tackle the country’s problems and restore peace and order on the path to democracy. It was said that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has a fundamental understanding of the political situation in Thailand and particularly the NCPO’s bold attempts to solve problems that had been plaguing the country. Cambodia promised not to support or harbour any group opposing Thailand’s military regime.

Sources revealed that Dr Somkid held “substantial discussions” with both the vice president and foreign minister that covered a wide range of cooperation on all matters and was strengthening avenues of future cooperation. Apart from the military’s areas of revival, both sides discussed China’s interest in assisting Thailand in  building the high-speed train system and its water management projects.

Dr Somkid confirmed that Beijing respected Thailand’s decision on an appropriate political course and that the coup had not affected relationships with China. Chinese leaders remarked that, “China is ready to support what is good for Thailand and the Thai people and we will not interfere with domestic politics.” General Prayuth Chan-ocha, now Thailand’s acting prime minister, is quoted as wading into the country’s political turmoil.