Remember all that stuff from the Obama administration about Thailand’s military junta and how it was shunned? Remember the lines about no military trading?
Seems like all of that was for public consumption and that the USA continued to deal with the corrupt and repressive regime. Of course, that’s what you would expect – think Egypt – and the US has seldom had any problem dealing with dictators. Its history in Thailand is of supporting military dictatorship. But all that American rhetoric about “democracy” was strong.
Then there were all those journalists and commentators who got excited, declaring that Thailand’s junta had been ditched by the US and had cuddled up to the Chinese. It seems that is not so accurate.
At Khaosod, there’s a report that should alter all of those views. The news yesterday that the Trump administration was selling more Black Hawk helicopters to Thailand had “US embassy spokesperson Melissa Sweeney [saying] … the latest development is part of the two nations’ ‘strong defense relationship’.”
Sweeney added that “US military sales to Thailand since the 2014 coup amounted to approximately USD$380 million, including Black Hawks and Harpoon Block II Missiles.”
$380 million is about 13 billion baht. That’s one Chinese submarine. Of the military sales data we have seen, the junta’s purchases from China are about the same level as all other purchases. In other words, half of arms and equipment purchases since 2014 have gone to China.
While this is a change, the details on the US’s sales and the junta’s gratification that Trump has looked their way suggests that the China tilt has not been as acute as previously suggested by the regional watch commentators.