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(June 5, 2020) Thai-Australian ties in the regional mix

Unlike the externally originated coronavirus pandemic, the mass protests in the United States in the aftermath of George Floyd's wrongful death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis are internally driven. Seen from outside, the public fury, street demonstrations and ensuing violence over the fatal suffocation of Floyd, a black man, yield geopolitical ramifications. If the US is socially unwell and geopolitically unreliable, regional states in Asia will have to respond accordingly in view of the US-China rivalry and competition. A case in point is Thailand-Australia relations in the regional mix.

Much will have to be dissected and internalised from Floyd's disturbing death, his breath giving out under the knee of a white policeman. Racism, sadly lamented from time to time, is the modern manifestation of America's "original sin" from slavery long ago. It can be mitigated and managed over the decades but it is ultimately intractable. This time, Floyd's gruesome murder may have been a fuse that lit up not just age-old racial tensions but also pent-up frustrations from multiple sources that range from President Donald Trump's politics of polarisation and partisanship to pandemic effects that have led to lockdowns, lost jobs, bankruptcies, and economic downturn.