Thailand Forges New Pacts With US, Chinese Militaries

BANGKOK — Thai government said it pledged further cooperation with the armed forces of the United States and China this week.

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha on Sunday signed a US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement, promising a deeper tie in accordance with so-called 20 Year National Policy implemented by the former junta regime. Prayuth also announced similar plans to boost military cooperation with the Chinese government.

Prayuth, who doubles as Minister of Defense, unveiled the two plans in separate meetings with US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha and US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper sign a new defence treaty on Nov. 17, 2019, in Bangkok.

The announcement came at a time Prayuth faces scrutiny from some critics for his perceived over-reliance on China for its military and economic prowess. The Prime Minister was recently ridiculed by his opponents after comparing Thailand to an “ant” in a joint news conference with Chinese PM Li Keqiang on Nov. 6.

In the US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement signed on Sunday, the two nations affirms a commitment to “the long-term advancement of mutual interests and shared values while also promoting security cooperation capable of deterring or acting decisively to meet the shared challenges of the future.”

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha meets Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Nov. 17, 2019, in Bangkok.

PM Prayuth also said he “adheres to the one-China policy and is willing to actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative” in a meeting with Gen. Wei, according to a report by Chinese state media Xinhua.

Cooperation would include support in equipment and technology, joint exercises ,and joint training.

Prayuth’s government recently acquired military hardware from both US and China; 10 US-made Stryker armored vehicles were delivered to the Thai army in September, while the Thai navy bought a fleet of landing ships from the People’s Republic.

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