Thailand slips deeper into China’s embrace

Beijing’s naval aid plus treatment of Chinese dissidents in Kingdom leave some uneasy, says Straits Times

BANGKOK: — Thailand’s navy wants to buy a submarine – and China’s offer looks tempting. It is not only cheaper than the rest, but reportedly includes technology transfer and training. That, in a nutshell, describes the kind of friendship that China extends to the Thai military government now – a relationship smoothed by appealing deals unattached to the political doctrines championed by much of the Western world.

Work on the Sino-Thai railway project that will give the trans-Asian rail network a sea outlet broke ground last December.Chinese and Thai air forces held their first joint exercise last year, shortly after Thailand received a visit from the vice-chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission.

Yet Thailand’s leaning towards China has not been without hiccups. And some analysts see its recent overtures towards Russia as a way of trying to counter-balance the growing Chinese clout within the Kingdom.

“We do not put all our eggs in the same basket,” says Dr Kitti Prasirtsuk, who heads the Institute of East Asian Studies at Thammasat University. “We like to diversify our ties with major powers.”

-more at Straits Times

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