Beijing’s sway over Thailand grows

Chinese and Thai soldiers line up during joint military exercises in 2016.
Chinese marines line up in front of Thai soldiers during the May 2016 Blue Strike exercises in Thailand. The countries have stepped up military cooperation since 2014 (source: dpa)
  • China is exploiting reduced U.S. engagement with Thailand since its 2014 coup
  • China is becoming an increasingly important economic partner for Thailand, which also has no competing claims in the South China Sea
  • Uniting countries in the region against China’s ascendancy is a near-impossible task
  • Current geopolitical trends suggest Sino-Thai relations will grow closer
Since Thailand’s May 2014 coup, China’s influence in the country has increased. This has come at the expense of Bangkok’s long-standing alliance with the United States. China’s success is rooted in its nonideological foreign policy, as well as in its growing economic and political leverage. Looking forward, economic, historical, cultural, geographic and political factors all favor a deepening of the Sino-Thai partnership.

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