It’s been less than three months since U.S. forces wrapped up their annual military exercises with Thailand. But there’s another Pacific power that’s playing a growing role with Thailand’s military. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
Thailand is in the midst of spending millions of dollars on Chinese military equipment.
News of the latest deal came in Tuesday’s edition of the Bangkok Post, which reported the Royal Thai Army plans to buy 34 armored vehicles from China for about 60 million U.S. dollars.
The army is also purchasing 11 more Chinese battle tanks as part of its ongoing plan to replace its aging U.S. made M-41 tanks - which date back to the 1960’s.
Earlier this year, leaders in Bangkok approved plans to spend nearly 400 million dollars to buy a Chinese submarine.
The Defense Ministry is also working on an unusual arrangement to build a production and maintenance facility in Thailand for Chinese military hardware.
Local media say that deal may be finalized by July.
Beijing and Bangkok have grown closer as the United States and Thailand have drifted further apart following the military coup in May 2014.
On its official website, the State Department says, "The United States…has urged a return to democracy through elections” in Thailand. Adding that “Thailand is a key U.S. security ally in Asia, and the country’s stability and growth are important to the maintenance of peace in the region.”