Thai-Chinese Relations: Security and Strategic Partnership
Date of Issue2008
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Strategic and security considerations played very important roles in Thai-Chinese relations. Thai elite in the past were suspicious of China after the Chinese Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. The relationship afterwards was tense and antagonistic. Before the diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1975, Thai leaders especially the military used to perceive China as a security threat as China had supported the Communist insurgencies in Thailand. The diplomatic recognition in July 1975 was a strategic decision as Thai leaders were concerned with the change in the international strategic environment, global as well as regional, especially the normalization between the US and China, and the regional change of the Communist victory in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The relations became warmer and closer in the 1980s as a result of the strategic convergence between Thailand and China over the Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia since 1979. The security cooperation between the two governments and the armed forces brought about mutual understanding and trust. Thailand purchased military equipments such as tanks, APC and frigates from China and coordinated their assistance to the Cambodian resistance against Vietnamese occupation. After the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia in 1989, Thai- Chinese relations changed the focus to economic partnership as Thai entrepreneurs invested more in China. In the post Cold War period of the 1990s Thailand wanted to broaden the engagement with China into other areas by signing in 1999 the Joint Communique on the Plan of Cooperation in the Twenty-first century. The strategic consideration here was that China, with her rapid economic growth, was destined to play significant and active role in the regional and global politics. Thailand also deepened her relationship with China by signing the Proces Verbal of Joint Action Plan on strategic cooperation between Thailand and China in 2007. Tor the next five years Thailand and China would cooperate in 15 areas including the security and military ones. The annual military consultation, the military educational exchange, the high-level visits and the military exercise observation as well participation would foster bi-lateral relationships and enhance the strategic relations between the two countries to a higher level. The closer strategic partnership would benefit not only both countries but also Southeast Asia region as China would need Thailand to alleviate fear of its rising power and to promote cooperative relations that it attempts to build in Southeast Asia.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science
RSIS Working Papers, 155-08
Nanyang Technological University