Thailand has often been praised for its diplomatic skills and foreign policy. Like “bamboo bending with the wind,” Thailand’s has been flexible and able to maintain a fine balance between the great powers, particularly China and the United States, without having to choose sides.
The task of maintaining a stable balance between China and the United States has not always been easy, and Thailand’s competence in maneuvering its foreign policy has gone through difficult tests. This is particularly true regarding Thailand’s foreign policy toward the two powers since the late 1990s.
This panel discusses Thailand’s relations with China and the United States from different perspectives. Pongphisoot Busbarat explores how the role of identities/images influences the current series of concessions, cooperation, and tension between Thailand, the USA, and China. Poowin Bunyavejchewin examines the politics of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) to reveal the Prayut government’s approaches to dealing with an assertive China. Thapiporn Suporn uses a comparative lens to assess Trump’s foreign policy toward Thailand by comparing it to the administration’s policy toward the Philippines. This revisits and reviews current trends in Thailand’s foreign policy.