On Friday, the Thai Prime Minister gave his full backing to the United Nations and the multilateral framework of cooperation between countries as the way forward in an increasingly fractious and dangerous world heavily exacerbated by the Covid 19 crisis. The pandemic has only served to deepen already gaping divisions between the United States and its allies on one side and China on the other.
The speech to the General Assembly on Friday by Thai PM Prayut Chan ocha contrasted sharply with the contribution on Tuesday of US President Donald Trump who spent more than half the time allotted to him on the podium castigating China for the pandemic currently wreaking havoc worldwide. General Prayut’s contribution called for global unity and the preservation of multilateral co-operation in overcoming the virus.
Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayut Chan ocha has used his address to the UN, during a meeting to celebrate its 75th anniversary, to call for countries around the world to be ‘unwavering against nationalism and anti-globalisation’.
The Thai government leader appealed for reliance on multilateralism as the way forward at this challenging time.
Prime Minister delivers his speech by video link
The PM was speaking to the body by video link on Friday as most world leaders and attendees stayed away from the New York headquarters because of the rampant virus infection.
It came just days after US President Donald Trump whose video message, like other world leaders, was broadcast at the New York UN headquarters, opened the proceedings with a scathing attack on China.
Trump called on China as a nation to be held ‘accountable’ blaming the communist country for failing to halt the outbreak
Speaking to the UN on Tuesday, the US president, started by pointing out America’s mobilisation to defend itself against the virus was the biggest since World War Two. He then went on to attack China in no uncertain terms.
‘We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China,’ the US President said. ‘In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world. China condemned my travel ban on their country, even as they cancelled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes.’
Intense criticism and indirect warnings from Beijing
The US president’s speech drew an intensely hostile response from a chorus of state-controlled media in Beijing which also later criticised Saturday’s contribution by Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, which while indirectly criticising China for growing tensions in the South China Sea, also called for a full investigation into the origins of the coronavirus which first appeared in Wuhan, China in late last year.
‘This virus has inflicted a calamity on our world and its peoples,’ Mr Morrison said. ‘We must do all we can to understand what happened for no other purpose than to prevent it from happening again.’
In Beijing, some media were openly pointing to international media speculation which now speaks of the danger of not only a cold war between China and the US but the definite possibility of a violent conflagration in the coming years or even months, particularly concerning Taiwan.
Former US intelligence officer warns of a real war between the US and China over Taiwan
As 2020 progresses, more defence and diplomatic experts in Europe, Asia and the United States are raising the distinct possibility of this sort of outcome, something hitherto unimaginable and still one that could have incalculable consequences not least for foreigners in Thailand.
One former US intelligence officer and now security expert, James Fanell, has stated publicly that the chances of a serious and sustained military confrontation between China and the United States sometime between 2025 to 2030 are ‘very high’.
Mr Fanell bases his assessments on the increasingly belligerent stance of China, its emphasis on reuniting the mainland with Taiwan and massive military preparations by Thailand’s northern neighbour towards that stated end which have speeded up in recent years.
Mr Fanell explains that since the beginning of this year, Chinese military forces are ready to move on Taiwan following an explicit order given to them by Chinese President Xi Jinping some years ago.
Trump is strengthening the position of US forces in Asia to be able to defend Taiwan says expert
Mr Fanell points out that decisive steps have been taken by the Trump administration to re pivot America’s defences towards such a scenario.
It is understood that these actions have alarmed Beijing and that the risk of an earlier outbreak of hostilities is therefore very real.
Mr Fannell describes China’s policy in recent years, in the Pacific and across the world, as ‘expansionist’.
Chinese media warning of a world split in two
This week in Beijing, following the US President’s attack, the Chinese Global Times warned that experts are predicting that such a situation, including a confrontation between the two powers, would represent a catastrophe for the world and a world divided.
This has become a repeated theme of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who first voiced such fears at an ASEAN summit late last year in Bangkok when hostilities between the US and Chinese delegations were open and clear for the world to see.
From Bangkok on Friday, the Thai Prime minister called for world leaders to see the Covid 19 challenge as a call for unity rather than division.
Thai Prime Minister praised the UN for its role in the world over the past 75 years in combating crises
The Prime Minister was determined to be optimistic and struck a positive tone.
‘During the past 75 years, the United Nations and member countries have overcome various challenges without hesitation,’ General Prayut said. ‘This year, the world has faced the Covid-19 outbreak that has caused severe impacts on people’s lives, economy and society. However, this tremendous challenge will prove that adherence to the multilateral system and unity among member countries are the way to overcome this crisis.’
UN must help to make any vaccine universal
The Thai premier appealed to the UN to take steps to ensure any vaccine is available to all people of the world on an equal basis.
‘The Thai government has cooperated with international partners on Covid-19 vaccine development for a while and I suggest that every country must have the right to seek Covid-19 vaccines and antiviral drugs equally, so this is the United Nations’ duty to do so,’ he said.
Australian premier also called for world cooperation on the vaccine and its universal availability
On Saturday, the contribution of the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, echoed the sentiments of General Prayut and promised that Australia, if it develops a vaccine, will make it available to the international community.
He warned against any country taking steps to hoard its vaccine if it is proven effective. He said that humanity has ‘a very long memory and can be a very, very severe judge’.
International organisations must be made more accountable and representative says Aussie premier
The Australian leader also said that multilateral institutions must be re-examined and reformed in a bid to ensure that they are made fairer and transparent while also being accountable to sovereign states.
The PM said this was essential to maintain the efficacy of international law.
He warned against some institutions and officials which appeared to have lost this sense of accountability at an international level.
Pointedly, he warned against the ‘unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy’ of such institutions and the effects of ‘negative globalism’.