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Thailand’s strategic drift: Domestic determinants amidst superpower competition

By Thitinan Pongsudhirak

After more than five years of military-authoritarian government following its 13th successful coup in May 2014, Thailand’s most recent elections on 24 March 2019 yielded a controversial parliament and a fractious post-election coalition government, headed by incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

This report argues that despite the challenges of domestic political preoccupations and the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Thailand’s strategic role in the Indo-Pacific is too important to be marginalized and that the country is an indispensable piece of the regional jigsaw puzzle in an era of global power shifts and transitions. The current Sino-US competition involves far-reaching battleground between democracy and authoritarianism, and Thailand – one of America’s oldest treaty ally with increasingly close ties with China – is strategically consequential. The report explains the complexity of Thai’s foreign policy and implications for Australia.