China–Thailand relations - Wikipedia
On the economic side, trade between China and Thailand grew from just under US$ billion in turn, Beijing perceived Thailand as part of the U.S. containment policy pines, Thailand established diplomatic relations with China in July Unlike 40 years ago, the United States is no longer Thailand's primary option for external partnerships. China is now Thailand's largest trading.
This drift became particularly apparent after the end of the Vietnam War, when Southeast Asia was relegated to the back bench of U. Thai policy-makers complained about a lack of U.
Zawacki closes his book in part with quotes from former prime minister Abhisit Vejajiva, who complains of a U. Zawacki particularly illustrates this disconnect and unwise policy-making in the s.
Even when the Thai economy was booming in the s, during the long era of Prem Tinsulanond-led governments, the Ronald Reagan administration and Congress alienated Thais, despite having skilled U.
A protectionist U. Both Congress and the executive branch just seemed to regard Thailand as an afterthought, particularly when compared to the Philippines, another U. In China still did not have diplomatic ties with many of its neighbors, and it could not provide the level of aid, investment, and military support to Thailand that the United States could. This was a far cry from China today, where Beijing is engaged in a soft power offensive across Asia, Beijing has become a leading donor, and Xi Jinping gave a speech to the 19th Party Congress last September in which he explicitly called for China to serve as a model to other developing nations, and to wield growing regional and global influence.
China just was not in a position, until the early s, to engage with Thailand on a level similar to that of the United States. Still, during the Asian financial crisis, which began in Bangkok, China began to demonstrate that it would play a larger regional role.
It promised not to devalue its currency during the height of the crisis, even as most other Asian nations were seeing devaluations. Chinese leaders publicly touted this decision; the choice not to devalue ultimately was not that essential to keeping the crisis from getting worse, but Southeast Asian nations praised Beijing for its position.
In addition, perceptions that the crisis was handled poorly and dogmatically by the International Monetary Fund and major Western nations, including prominently the United States, further opened the door for China to make diplomatic inroads in Southeast Asia. Its diplomats had become more skillful regionally and globally, and Beijing was beginning to launch a soft power charm offensive of funding for educational institutions, cultural institutions, think-tanks, and other institutions throughout Asia.
Now, in fact, China is, as Zawacki notes, impacting Thailand in a broad way geographically, on a level that no outside power has done since the United States in the Vietnam War; China is investing in and building physical links through many parts of the kingdom.
Recalibrating Thai-U.S. Relations - The Asia Foundation
The Thaksin Shinawatra administration that took office inand the military governments that repeatedly ousted Thaksinite governments, provided an opportunity for China to engage with Thailand at a high level throughout the s and s — and to ultimately challenge the United States as the major external power in the kingdom. Over the past fifteen years, Zawacki notes, U. Thaksin saw China a major counterweight to the United States, an important business ally, and a power that would not criticize his illiberal democratic style, which was evident even before he was elected inand became central how he operated as prime minister and, later, as power behind the party.
During his campaign in and Thaksin had prominently highlighted his own Sino-Thai background, and presented himself as an important interlocutor between large Sino-Thai run companies in the kingdom and China itself, which would be a huge source of opportunity for Sino-Thai firms as a consumer market and trading partner. This presentation undoubtedly helped him win support from some important sectors of the business community, which he overlaid on top of his regional base in the north and northeast, and his populist policies, which had an allure to working class Thais across the kingdom.
China cultivated Thaksin and many of his closest allies. Meanwhile, as Zawacki notes, U.
- China–Thailand relations
- Review– Thailand: Shifting Ground between the US and a Rising China
- Recalibrating Thai-U.S. Relations
Bush administration mostly ignored Southeast Asia, other than issues related to the war on terror. And yet the Bush administration still focused nearly all of its high-level engagement with Bangkok on counterterrorism. S-Thailand bilateral free trade agreement, which was eventually scrapped after large anti-FTA protests in cities in Thailand. Rather than taking charge of the construction and loans itself, and seeking hardware and software assistance from several countries, the government decided to partner with China.
China initially proposed interest rates of 2. After several negotiations, the interest rate was reduced to 2 percent, with China raising its share to 70 percent in exchange for a right to develop areas along the rail for commercial benefit.
The Curious Case of Thai-Chinese Relations: Best Friends Forever?
Instead of a double track, the Nakhon Ratchasima-Nong Khai route would be modified to a single one to save costs. However, the two countries have yet to reach conclusion after 10 joint committee meetings. The Thai public is now comparing this project with the smooth Thai-Japanese collaboration on a high speed train connecting Kanchanaburi to Lam Chabang port in Rayong. High level visits and side meetings between the two countries exceed those Thailand has with other countries.
Thai Princess Sirindhorn visits China every year at the invitation of the Chinese government. Princess Chulabhorn is another frequent guest. China also extended a warm welcome to and facilitated an ancestral visit by the former Thai prime ministers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra last year, without provoking a spat with the present government, or being heavily criticised by the Yellow Shirts.
In contrast, Western leaders and diplomats have struggled in their interactions with the military government and the Pheu Thai party, and remind Thailand to uphold principles of liberal democracy. This has drawn Thailand toward China, even when it has not been in its own best interests. But this special history appears to be fading with the passage of time.
But today, Thailand has many more options for defense cooperation and procurement, and while joint exercises like the annual Cobra Gold are still going strong, a recent survey of Thai military officers has found a growing sense of distance.
Panelists at the Foundation-hosted bilateral dialogue between delegations of Thai and U. There is a broad consensus that U. Growing geopolitical competition is shifting U. Recent congressional legislation, such as the proposed Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, indicates a strong interest in shoring up old alliances.
From the Thai perspective, a strong U. While the strategic context is conducive to stronger relations, there is an urgent need to inject new life into some key areas of cooperation.
The Curious Case of Thai-Chinese Relations: Best Friends Forever? - The Asia Foundation
For the past year, The Asia Foundation has led a program to identify the areas most crucial to U. We have worked with many of the leaders on both sides—diplomats, politicians, military officers, scholars, and business leaders—who shaped the relationship over previous decades, to have them share their insights and ideas.
The program began with a study on current relations, based on 50 interviews with Thai and U. Then, in July, we organized a bilateral dialogue between delegations of Thai and U.Sam Zhao discusses US-China relations
The enthusiasm for this initiative has been apparent from the beginning. Many of the Thai leaders who were interviewed or joined the dialogue have a strong personal connection to the United States. Several have studied in the U.
Many expressed their opinion that this study was long overdue, and that similar analysis should be conducted more regularly to help Thai-U. These American friends of Thailand have generally been concerned about the growing political distance and have many ideas for building on the lessons of these challenging recent years. Not all of our interviewees were so enthusiastic. Some questioned the timing of the program, arguing that we should wait until after an election in Thailand.