American consulate in Chiang Mai accused of covert military operations

photo via U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand

US officials in Thailand are denying allegations that a new American consulate in Chiang Mai is supplying weapons to rebel groups in neighbouring countries and is being used for covert military operations. A local Thai group wrote an open letter requesting US President Joe Biden rethink the purpose of the consulate, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.

The allegations were made in an open letter written by Nithithorn Lumlua, a representative of the “Peoples of Thailand” group. Spokesperson for the US Embassy in Bangkok Nicole Fox said the allegations are without merit. She said the construction of the consulate is part of the US’s effort to upgrade diplomatic facilities in various locations worldwide. The letter also requested the US to lift its arms embargo on Myanmar, citing Thailand’s neutral political state on the current unrest in the country.

“The purpose of the facility is to allow Thailand and the US to coordinate better on future bilateral programs.”

In February, the US and Thailand conducted their annual Cobra Gold military exercise. The event was necessary to prepare both nations for future emergencies, according to the Thai military.

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Last month, US chargé d’affaires in Thailand Michael Health denied allegations that the new consulate building will be used as a US centre for monitoring military operations in southern China, or be used as a missile base. The consulate’s rather astonishing construction cost of US$280 million sparked the rumours locally, but the high price tag “is in line” with the budget allocated by the US government, according to Heath.

Former media tycoon Sondi Limthongkul – a famous “yellow-shirt” – claims that he expects the consulate will become a US spy centre in Southeast Asia. He said that Chiang Mai is an ideal location to spy on Chinese military communications in Sichuan province, especially in its capital Chengdu, which is home to several military installations and the Qionglai Air Base.

The US has denied all the allegations, arguing that the consulate has several roles and responsibilities, such as cooperating with Thai security agencies in joint efforts to battle human, wildlife and drug trafficking.


Thailand News


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