The Thai Prime Minister’s support for the Quad defence initiative between the United States, Japan, India and Australia, seen as a bulwark against China, as well as the AUKUS pact between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia is significant. It appears to indicate a shift in Thailand’s stance in that it acknowledges that the region does require such defensive pacts to maintain peace and stability.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha called for deeper cooperation and strategic partnership between the ASEAN community and the United States in combating key regional crises, global challenges and international conflicts at the ASEAN Summit over the weekend in Cambodia attended by US President Joe Biden. General Prayut also expressed support for the Quad defence alliance in the region and the new American economic framework initiative which Thailand has signed up to along with other key trade partners.
On Saturday, at the weekend Asean Summit held in Phnom Penh, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha underlined the importance of a more engaged and constructive relationship between the United States and the ASEAN community of nations.
The plenary session held in the Cambodian capital was chaired by Cambodian strongman and prime minister Hun Sen.
It saw the leaders of nine ASEAN countries around the table with US President Joe Biden.
The US President led a high-powered delegation to the summit including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and key advisors.
Myanmar faces exclusion from the ASEAN community as the civil war and crisis deepens in that country
Absent from the summit and meetings was a representative delegation from Myanmar, a country currently in the grips of civil war and with rival governments claiming to represent the former British colony also known as Burma.
Civil war in Myanmar broke out after the vast majority of the public rejected the February 2021 military coup which ousted the legitimate government led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, a respected Nobel Laureate.
She has since been jailed by the military junta on a range of trumped-up charges in trials that have drawn international condemnation of the beleaguered ruling military junta in Nay Pyi Taw.
Sources at the summit in Phnom Penh suggest that, for the first time, the leadership of ASEAN is considering excluding Myanmar permanently from the body, a decision which would contravene a key convention of the intergovernmental organisation of non-intervention since it was first declared in Bangkok in 1967.
The ASEAN community is currently chaired by Cambodia and is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia which is the home of the body’s secretariat.
General Prayut, at the summit, called for a stronger and strategic partnership between ASEAN and the United States to counter regional and global crises
Speaking at the summit, General Prayut said that the relationship between ASEAN and the United States should be reviewed and strengthened, particularly concerning how to deal with emerging crises and challenges within the region and in the wider world.
He specified these as energy and food insecurity as well as international conflicts.
To deal with these challenges, the PM said that a strategic partnership between the ASEAN community and the United States must be forged.
General Prayut shook hands with President Biden at the meeting and it was earlier reported that officials in Washington DC had explained to the Thai Prime Minister that the US President was unable to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok on the 18th and 19th of November because his granddaughter, Naomi Biden, a lawyer, was getting married on the opening day of the summit in Washington DC.
Chinese President Xi Jinping may be the star attraction at Thailand’s APEC summit next month with Putin
The summit, next week, will see the attendance of Chinese leader Xi Jinping who will meet President Biden beforehand at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
The United States will be represented in Bangkok by Vice President Kamala Harris.
PM expressed support for both the Quad and AUKUS military pacts, both bête noirs of communist China
In Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Prayut went further and expressed support for US initiatives in the Indo-Pacific such as the Quad defensive alliance between Japan, Australia, India and the United States against a more assertive China.
General Prayut also endorsed the AUKUS defensive pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
General Prayut’s support for the defensive pacts, both seen as bulwarks against China, were voiced as he talked about deeper cooperation between ASEAN and the United States to confront the emerging crises.
The PM’s statement appeared to indicate that they are necessary.
Both alliances have been repeatedly disparaged by China and its spokespeople over the last few years as provocations and not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region.
Prayut called for US support to help regional countries develop digital economies and infrastructure
General Prayut also expressed support for the US Indo-Pacific Economic Cooperation framework which Thailand has signed up to.
He called on leaders in the region to seize the opportunities at the three international summits this month in Phnom Penh, Bali and Bangkok to advance a coordinated approach, together and in partnership, to confront key challenges.
General Prayut called on the United States to work with ASEAN countries seeking help to build up digital economies including the engagement of top US companies in providing robust digital infrastructure to the region.
Thailand received a significant investment boost in mid-October when Seattle-based AWS, a subsidiary of the huge Amazon technology group of companies, announced that it was making Thailand the regional hub for its Southeast Asian operations with an investment of $5 billion or ฿190 billion over the next 15 years.
Thailand’s Green bona fides outlined
Finally, Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha outlined the Thai government’s policies and programmes in combating climate change with the kingdom constituting only 0.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan includes green financial schemes, green infrastructural development plans and the creation of new environmentally friendly industries to provide employment opportunities.
He said that Thailand was already pursuing the goal of a Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy and was ready to work with the United States on that goal as the US would, in 2023, become the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit host, taking over from Thailand.