Kavi Chongkittavorn, journalist, in Bangkok Post (December 8, 2020)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Ron Przysucha/US Department of State)
The new US administration’s perception of Thailand's geostrategic values in the wake of China's rise and the Covid-19 pandemic will determine whether the US's oldest friend in Asia will be a boon or a bane.
First, Thailand has to bring back that image of a rules-based democratic country that respects human rights. If the Biden administration hosts a Summit of Global Democracy next year, Thailand must be included in the list of participants as part of the emerging liberal democracies group.
Second, Thailand is one of the five US allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
Third, Thailand is an important trading partner of the US.
Fourth, Thailand is considered a major regional hub of multinational civil society, especially those with headquarters in the US and Europe.
Fifth, local human rights defenders are fearless when it comes to defending civil rights.
Sixth, of late, the proliferation of social media and bloggers have allowed for the expression of views once considered taboo. Today, all Thai media content providers, which are still lacking in professionalism, report in a way never before seen.
Seventh, Thailand is a good friend of China. Therefore, Thailand can serve as a bridge-builder for the two superpowers, as we have no qualms about being an American ally while being close to China.
Eighth, in the era of the pandemic, Thailand is a great partner for health security. Thanks to more than three decades of US assistance in capacity building and research on contagious diseases, Thailand has developed a world-class healthcare system and capable human resources which have helped mitigate the horrible virus.
All in all, these Thai eight strategic values should help the Biden administration set a clear pathway to deal with Thailand.