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Thailand and the US sign new defence treaty

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PHOTO: Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper with the newly-signed defence alliance treaty yesterday in Bangkok – The Nation
The US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement 2020 advances the 2018 US National Defence Strategy and Thailand’s 20 Year National Strategy objectives “by reaffirming our shared commitment to the long-standing defence alliance.”

This statement was issued by the US embassy in Bangkok following the signing of the treaty yesterday.

“It strengthens the special relationship with a focus on 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.”

Thailand and the US have signed the defence treaty “to enable stability, prosperity and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region in support of an inclusive and rules-based international order”.

According to The Nation, academics are criticising the new treaty saying that it reaffirms the US policy of putting defence, economic and other cooperation above democracy and human rights.

The Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Ubonratchathani University, Titipol Phakdeewanich, skas the defence alliance demonstrated that the US government does not give any priority to democracy and human rights in Thailand.

“It shows that the US-Thai relationship is based on mutual interests related to defence, economic and other areas of cooperation rather than promoting democracy.”

He believes that both the EU and the US have compromised on democracy since Thailand held its general election in March, even though the military still exerts considerable influence over Thai politics.

Before the March 24 election, western powers would not fully engage with the former junta-backed government following the 2014 coup.

Addressing the suggestion that the US aimed to counter China’s influence over Thailand and ASEAN, Titipol said that was “unlikely to be the main objective because Thailand and the US have long cooperated on defence”.

“As demonstrated by a 65-year defence alliance, the United States and Thailand are stronger together,” the US embassy statement said.

“The alliance supports Thailand’s leadership role within ASEAN and other international security to advance mutual interests and reinforce the rules-based international order.”

 

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