New Thai Government and America's Asia "Pivot"

June 18, 2019 New Eastern Outlook 

After much uncertainty and a turbulent election, Thailand now has a new government led by its newly elected prime minister, Prayuth Chan-o-cha. This bodes well for Thailand's stability and development as well as its growing ties with its ASEAN neighbours as well as with China.


For the US and its attempts to reassert "primacy" over Asia while encircling and containing the rise of China, the defeat of its "pro-democracy" proxies it is a nightmare.

The Western media, their media partners in Thailand and a small army of US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have decried the new government as a "dictatorship disguised as democracy."

Articles like, "Thailand Junta Leader Named Prime Minister After Contentious Vote," published by the New York Times, set the tone of the West's backlash against the newly formed government, citing unqualified claims like, "an election marred by charges of manipulation" or depicting the opposition as being "pro-democracy."

Absent from NYT articles and others across the Western media is any mention of who PM Prayuth Chan-o-Cha was really running against or why there was a coup in 2014 to begin with. This omission is deliberate, because its inclusion by the media would provide crucial context both justifying the coup and exposing the "pro-democracy" opposition as anything but.

Putting Things in Context 

PM Prayuth led a 2014 coup, ousting the regime of Yingluck Shinawatra, which in turn served merely as a front for convicted criminal, fugitive and US-proxy Thaksin Shinawatra.

From 2001-2006, Shinawatra had loyally served US interests as Thai prime minister. He privatised Thailand's energy concerns which were promptly bought up by US and European oil corporations, committed Thai troops to the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq, invited the US Central Intelligence Agency to use Thai territory for its extraordinary rendition programme and even attempted to pass a US-Thai free trade agreement without parliamentary approval.


US-backed Agitators Go "Missing" in Asia - Why?

June 16, 2019 New Eastern Outlook 

The Western media along with multiple US and European funded "rights" groups have sounded the alarm over what they claim is a wave of assassinations and physical attacks on "activists."


The particular target of these claims is Thailand.

Articles like the Sydney Morning Herald's "'They sent an assassination squad': Thai exiles speak of life in fear," allege:
The attacks on Thai dissidents and pro-democracy activists are becoming increasingly violent and are being felt across ASEAN countries. And for political exiles who are critical of the monarchy –many of whom are wanted for lese-majeste or royal defamation – the attacks can be deadly.
 The article makes mention of those "deadly attacks," claiming:
On New Year's Eve, two bodies washed up on the banks of the Mekong River on the Thai-Laos border. They were gutted and stuffed with concrete to weigh them down, and were later identified as belonging to colleagues of Surachai Danwattananusorn, who has spent decades opposing the monarchy and military regimes. Surachai himself has been missing since December 12.
One problem with the Sydney Morning Herald's article is its omission of the fact that Surachai himself is a convicted murderer and belongs to a movement that readily uses violence. Another problem is that there is no evidence of who is behind these attacks or why.

What remains is the West's now all-too-familiar accusations of "human rights abuse" aimed at coercing yet another targeted nation.

"Missing Activists" Support Violence, Sedition 

The Union for Civil Liberty, funded by the US government via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in a 1986 report would admit Surachai's role in various acts of politically-motivated violence including murder and arson.

The report admits:
Surachai led [an] angry mob of 30,000 to protect against the authorities; negligence of the flood victims in the province. The protest ended in the burning of the governor's residence. Surachai and 12 other people were detained but later released following the public pressure. 

Threatened with arrest and death, he took refuge in the junge areas under the control of the CPT [Communist Party of Thailand]. 

Surachai was reportedly involved in the stopping of the train by CPT forces. This resulted in the disappearance of 1.2 million baht (US$ 46,154) and the death of a policeman. He later fled the scene. 
Surachai, for his role in the murder was arrested, found guilty in a court of law and sentenced to death.

He was later pardoned by Thailand's king. The violence Surachai was involved in is now omitted completely from Western media coverage of him and others in his movement today, including the above cited Sydney Morning Herald article.

Now 77 years old, he turned from "communism" to supporting US proxy, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra. His advanced age and exodus from Thailand rendered him useless. Surachai by remaining "alive" leaves him a spent force with a checkered past and serving only as dead weight for the movement. Being "killed" transforms this dead weight into a "martyr."


Washington's "Tiananmen" Lies Begin to Fray

June 9, 2019 New Eastern Outlook 

Washington and its allies across the Western World have been particularly eager in observing this year's anniversary of their version of the 1989 Tiananmen protests.



It has become an opportunity to add political pressure atop economic pressure already being exerted on Beijing by Washington in its bid to encircle and contain China's rise.

This pressure comes mainly through the Western media.

But the monopoly the US once enjoyed over the flow of global information is coming to an end. The more attention the US tries to draw to certain events, the more objective scrutiny others apply resulting in growing, irreversible damage to some of Washington's most valuable propaganda narratives.

Attempts to characterise the Tiananmen protests as a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters is meant to portray China, then and now, as an violent authoritarian regime and a threat to not only freedom in China, but freedom worldwide.

But as this lie is exposed, the US itself appears to be the real risk to global peace and freedom.

US State Department Cables Contradict US Secretary of State's Version of Events 

The US State Department itself would set the tone of Washington's annual propaganda drive. In a press statement titled, "On the 30th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would claim:
On June 4, we honor the heroic protest movement of the Chinese people that ended on June 4, 1989, when the Chinese Communist Party leadership sent tanks into Tiananmen Square to violently repress peaceful demonstrations calling for democracy, human rights, and an end to rampant corruption. The hundreds of thousands of protesters who gathered in Beijing and in other cities around China suffered grievously in pursuit of a better future for their country. The number of dead is still unknown.
Yet according to the US State Department's own cables, thanks to Wikileaks, what Secretary Pompeo stated is categorically untrue.

In a 2011 Telegraph article titled, "Wikileaks: no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square, cables claim," it is admitted that:
Secret cables from the United States embassy in Beijing have shown there was no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square when China put down student pro-democracy demonstrations 22 years ago.
While the Telegraph attempts to claim Chinese troops merely killed protesters they portray as peaceful and unarmed "outside" the square, evidence within the US State Department's own cables proves precisely the opposite.

One cable dated June 3, 1989 admits:
[Embassy officers] encountered a number of incidents in different locations in which crowds harassed military or police personnel, forced their vehicles to turn around, jeered at displays of captured military equipment, or vandalized captured military vehicles.
Further detailing the violence was an oblique admission in the New York Times in a recent article titled, "Witnessing China’s 1989 Protests, 1,000 Miles From Tiananmen Square," in which now US Representative Andy Levin of Michigan gives his account of what he saw as a student during the protests.


Human Rights Hypocrisy: Defending Billionaires, Destroying Journalists

May 30, 2019 New Eastern Outlook

In the wake of Thailand's recent elections, US and European-backed opposition forces were caught flatfooted, reeling from losing the popular vote to the military-linked Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).


Additionally, "rising political star" as the Western media refers to him, billionaire heir Thanathorn Jungrungreangkit, head of the opposition Future Forward Party (FFP), has found himself in legal turmoil, facing various corruption cases and charges of sedition.

Defending a Billionaire

Thanathorn's FFP is favoured by the West as an appropriate proxy to roll back Thai-Chinese relations and eliminate Thai institutions impeding Western interests in Thailand.

So favoured by the West is Thanathorn and his Future Forward Party, that when he was summoned by Thai police to hear charges against him, he was accompanied by over a dozen representatives of Western embassies including from the US, UK, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Germany and EU diplomats.

Responding to what was blatant interference in Thailand's internal political affairs, Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) would release a statement noting (our emphasis):
Regardless of the intention, the presence of Embassies' representatives the police station with such a visibility and the publicity it generated were clearly an act of political significance, seen by the Thai public largely as a show of moral support to Mr. Thanathorn.

In other words, it was a political act, or a political statement on the part of the Embassies.

It clearly amounted to the Embassies choosing to be a player in Thai domestic politics, at least by having taken side in the country's political landscape.

The Royal Thai Government considers such action to be in breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), Article 41, and the internationally recognised principle of non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign nations.
The statement was posted most visibly by "Thailand senior researcher" at Human Rights Watch (HRW) Sunai Phasuk, who would himself add in a social media post:

Baring fangs to please military government, [the Thai MFA] attempted to harass western diplomats only to be told that observation of major lawsuits & court proceedings is standard practice for countries that respect human rights & due process. 
But do the countries who were present at the police station on April 6 truly "respect human rights and due process" as Sunai and the embassies themselves have tried to claim?


US Diplomacy Sours in Southeast Asia

May 23, 2019  New Eastern Outlook  

Under the cover of "security threats" and promoting "democracy," Washington has increased the frequency and amplitude of threats and pressure aimed at China's partners around the world and specifically in Southeast Asia. 


The Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand, still erroneously pegged by some as an ally of the US, has long since pivoted away from its Cold War alliances and has invested deeply in building economic, political and even military ties with Beijing. 

So acute is this pivot that it has prompted heated commentary in response from across the Western media, supposed "rights" groups and other enclaves of US "soft power."   

Exemplified best by articles like, "West must act firmly to stem rise of 'China model' in Thailand," by Benjamin Zawacki (Amnesty International, Council on Foreign Relations) published by the lobbyist clearinghouse Nikkei Asian Review, arguments are being made for a more robust and direct intervention by the West to overrule the ambitions and agendas of nations who would rather do business with China and in a manner unfavourable to Washington.

Zawacki uses the narrative of eroding democracy to lend impetus to the West's interference and pressuring of Thailand in "stemming the rise of a China model," but it is only just a narrative.

China is expanding its influence through Asia not by aligning with "authoritarian" ideology, but by doing business, building infrastructure and offering alternatives to nations that once only had the US and Europe to go to for technology, alliances and investments.

Today, the US and Europe are unable to compete in any of these relevant fields with the majority of their activity in nations like Thailand aimed at unsolicited and unwelcomed political interference.

The battle over Chinese telecom giant Huawei's growing supremacy over global markets provides us insight into just how robust and direct Western intervention has become and forewarns of still greater pressure to come.

Huawei's 5G in Thailand

The South China Morning Post in an article titled, "Huawei says it’s 'surprised' by report that US is pushing more foreign allies to blacklist its network services," would report:
Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecoms equipment vendor, said it was “surprised” by a Wall Street Journal report about the US government exerting increased pressure on foreign allies to ditch network services from the Chinese company on national security grounds. 
The lengths the US will go through to pressure nations into dumping Huawei remains to be seen. Many nations have been pressured and have decided to move forward with China and Huawei regardless.

Segments like NPR's, "Thailand Moves Forward With Chinese Tech Company Huawei To Build 5G Network," cites the above mentioned Zawacki who claims:
The extent to which this 5G technology is going to control not only telecommunications but so many other things that are absolutely fundamental to any society's ability to function and govern itself means that, well, we better stay onside with China because if we don't, their ability to manipulate our economy, our infrastructure, our energy sources, our databases, et cetera, becomes that much greater.

Thailand is at the center of that. Geographically, it's right in the middle. And so while it tries to maintain positive relationships with both countries, that sort of neutrality is not something it's going to be able to gift itself forever.
The NPR piece concludes by claiming:
Especially, he says, if [Thailand is] being forced to choose in the event of a conflict between the U.S. and China. With a Chinese company controlling all communications and interconnections between machines, the fear is that choice will have already been made.
Of course, NPR never explains why nations in Asia would side with the United States in a conflict between the US and China, a conflict the US would have to cross an entire ocean to participate in. It never explains why Western corporations controlling Thailand's economy or infrastructure is a better proposition for Bangkok. It also doesn't explain how China would control Thailand's economy or infrastructure in the first place simply by providing Thailand with 5G technology.


As Thai-Chinese Relations Grow, So do US Threats

May 2, 2019 New Eastern Outlook  

The Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand, a nation with nearly 70 million people and the second largest economy in the region, has accelerated already growing ties with China over the past 5 years.


These ties include military purchases to replace Thailand's aging US hardware with newer and more capable Chinese main battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and even submarines either already in use or on their way.

Thai-Chinese relations also centre around Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Thailand's role as a major partner through which high-speed rail will connect China itself with Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and by extension, Singapore granting passengers and freight travelling from China a shortcut to the Strait of Malacca and the Indian Ocean beyond.

The obvious, negative implications this will have on Washington's self-proclaimed notion of Asian primacy has led to gathering political storm clouds. The US is leading a noticeable uptick in propaganda aimed at not only undermining China's BRI, but also attacking China's partners, including Thailand.

The US and its partners are also increasing their political interference in Thailand, attempting during recent elections to install political forces into power that will reverse Thai-Chinese relations. The failure of these forces to decisively win elections even with US aid, leaves the looming prospect of the US resorting to backing protests and even terrorism to spoil Thai-Chinese gains.

Bangkok-Beijing Cementing Ties  

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha attended Beijing's recent 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Pro-Western English newspaper, the Bangkok Post, in an article titled, "Regime talks up China ties on visit to Beijing for 'Belt and Road' forum," would note:
"Both sides were satisfied with the fact that over the past five years, Thailand and China have had their closest relations ever," deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak, told the media in the press wrap-up about the meetings between Thai and Chinese leaders.

"Gen Prayut gave an assurance that Thailand will take care of Chinese investors and tourists," said Lt Gen Werachon.

Both nations pledged to help drive up the value of trade between them to US$140 billion by 2021, double the current $73.6 billion.
To put Thai-Chinese trade in perspective, China is already Thailand's number one trade partner, with over 15% of all Thai exports going to China, with the US in second at 11.5%. Over 20% of Thai imports come from China versus only about 5.7% from the US.

China also accounts for the vast majority of all tourists visiting Thailand, beating out the combined number of tourists travelling from all Western nations combined.

Thai-Chinese trade and tourism is only set to grow. Along with expanding military ties and obvious shared-interests in regional security and stability, Cold War notions of Thailand being a US proxy should be finally and definitively laid to rest.


New US Ambassador to Australia Obsessed with China

March 17, 2019 New Eastern Outlook  

US Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse Jr. wasted no time at his new diplomatic post to begin strong-arming Canberra into adopting Washington's confrontational policy vis-à-vis Beijing.


A Reuters article published by the South China Morning Post titled, "China using ‘payday loan diplomacy’ in the Pacific, claims new US ambassador to Australia," would claim:
China is using “payday loan diplomacy” to exert influence in the Pacific, the new US ambassador to Australia said on Wednesday, in comments that threaten to inflame regional tensions. 

The United States and its regional allies have been battling China for greater influence in the Pacific – a region that has votes at international forums like the United Nations and controls vast swathes of a resource-rich ocean.

The geopolitical competition has seen both sides increase foreign aid to the region in recent months, which the West says is needed to prevent the Pacific falling into financial distress and becoming susceptible to diplomatic pressure from Beijing. 
The Reuters article would continue by claiming:
The arrival of Culvahouse, the first US ambassador to Australia in more than two years, comes at time of bilateral tensions between Canberra and Beijing. 

In 2017, then Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull accused China of meddling in domestic affairs. In 2018, Canberra banned companies linked to foreign governments from investing in its nascent 5G network, effectively blocking China’s Huawei.
The article also mentions counter-pressure applied on Australia regarding coal China imports, but describes it instead as, "how Beijing is using trade to punish Canberra for its criticism," despite already admitting it is in direct retaliation for Australia's use of trade to punish China first.

The American people for whom Ambassador Culvahouse is a representative, must be perplexed over this diplomat's obsession with China rather than fulfilling his duties of representing the United States in Australia itself.

As the United States does with many other allies, it is attempting to turn Australia into a partner-proxy in Washington's own confrontation with China.

In the process of this otherwise unsustainable confrontation, Washington risks dragging Australia down with it, when Australia could instead be bilaterally resolving issues with China and building constructive relations throughout Asia-Pacific, all while redefining for itself a more positive role in the region, breaking free from its historical role as an extension of Anglo-American hegemony.

Geography 101: China is Located in Asia, the United States is Not 

Interestingly enough, Reuters failed to notice that China is actually located in Asia-Pacific, while the United States is not.

Just as the US is expected to exert a certain amount of influence in North America where it is actually located, it is not unreasonable to expect China to do likewise in Asia. That US foreign policy seems formed around the notion that the US, not China, should hold primacy in Asia is both counterintuitive and fundamentally flawed.