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 Events Summary 2019

ISIS Co-organized Public Forum on "China on Responsible Global Superpower?" - 27 March 2019 at 09.00-12.00 

Venue is Room 209, Faculty of Economic, Chulalongkorn University 

A Public Forum - Thailand's ASEAN Chair: Challenges Ahead 

As is widely known, Thailand is ASEAN’s rotational chair for 2019. Thailand’s foreign policy team has geared up for this task for many months and is poised to carry out its duties in view of ASEAN’s myriad challenges from the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and the South China Sea to the regional navigation of the United States-China trade conflict. Global geopolitical tensions are on the rise, and ASEAN is in the thick of it. This public forum is intended to examine and explore Thailand’s challenges and opportunities as ASEAN Chair with a forward-looking view as how to best perform for the benefit of both ASEAN and its co-founder and birthplace. 

A Public Forum - Thirty and Hungry for Change: Meet the New Faces of Thai Politics 

Thailand’s looming election on 24 March has been highly participated, as the last completed poll took place in July 2011. This election will see more than seven million first-time voters among the 51-million electorate. Voices of the young and the new generation will count significantly, perhaps more than in previous polls. This seminar will feature three new politicians who are “young and hungry” for change in Thai politics and who are associated with Oxford Thai Foundation and LSE in Thailand. 

A Public Forum - An Uneasy Peace: China Power in A Divided World 

Amidst the ongoing global unravel and power shifts, underpinned by geopolitical tensions and issues such as the “trade war” between the United States and China, the rules-based liberal international order as we know it is under severe stress. It appears that, unless the international order is fundamentally readjusted and reformed, geopolitical tensions and geo-economics contestation are likely to deteriorate to the detriment of all concerned. Central to mitigating, resolving and finding ways forward is the US-China relationship. As US views are well known from the international media and other sources, this public forum takes opportunity from a visit to Bangkok by prominent Chinese think-tank and academic experts to provide Chinese perspectives on geopolitics and geo-economics. The Chinese experts are led by Tsinghua University’s Dr Yan Xuetong, who has been convening China’s premier World Peace Forum. Dr Yan has recently published a widely circulated article on China’s global outlook in Foreign Affairs, which forms the basis of our forum’s title ( 

(April 5, 2019) Election augurs end of the Thaksin era - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

It could have happened in August 2001, but Thailand has taken nearly two wasted decades to see the back of Thaksin Shinawatra. 

(April 2, 2019) China's BRI push marred by trust deficit - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

As China's economic and political clout grows by the day, Europe finds it increasingly difficult to develop an overall approach with dual objectives -- one that does not undermine its unity or upset its ally across the Atlantic, the US. Some European Union members want to take a tougher stand against China due to its limited market access, while others are concerned about possible security threats posed by China's sophisticated 5G network. 

(March 26, 2019) Post-poll policy: Dynamic continuity - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Speculation is rife about imminent changes in Thailand's diplomatic direction after five years of military-ruled guidance. Political pundits and campaigners ahead of the polls last week also sent out strong signals that they expect a new cabinet in Government House with new policies. One of the casualties would be Thai-Chinese ties, which have progressed and strengthened without waveringly over the past five years. However, the outcome of Sunday's election indicates that whichever parties form the next civilian government, there will be little effect on the country's foreign relations or the current Asean chair. Indeed, Thailand's foreign policy will become more dynamic with continuity. 

(March 20, 2019) Election highlights crisis of Thai junta rule - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

As Thailand heads to the poll on March 24 for the first time in nearly eight years, almost five of them under Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha after his 2014 military coup, the political stakes have never been higher. 

(March 19, 2019) Virachai: Thai diplomat extraordinaire - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

It was in the afternoon of Feb 22 that I met Virachai Plasai, the Thai ambassador to the United States, along with his five staffers for a meeting at the Thai embassy's main conference room in Washington at 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW. I had no idea that he was suffering from Myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of bone-marrow cancer. His face was a bit pale, but he was focused and attentive. 

(March 15, 2019) Army-backed regime pulls poll disguises - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

At issue in the looming election is less about Thailand's return to democratic rule and more about the country's slide into long-term military-authoritarianism with democratic disguises. The most recent military seizure of power on May 22, 2014, appears increasingly like a coup to remake all coups. However the votes are decided, the army-backed junta under the National Council for Peace and Order, spearheaded by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, intends to stay for the long haul. 

(March 12, 2019) Why RCEP requires greater effort - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

After nearly six years and 26 rounds of bargaining, it is time for the negotiating team to stop playing games and move forward for the common good of the East Asian region. Judging from the latest round of top-level meetings and negotiations in Siem Reap, Cambodia, at the end of February, it is still difficult to conclude the Asean-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) under Thai chairmanship, unless its leaders give their negotiators a big push. No more dilly-dallying. 

(March 5, 2019) Asean must continue to engage n korea - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

The second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi failed to produce an outcome that would enable regional partners to play a bigger role. Last week's meeting was strictly a leader-to-leader negotiation, nobody else. US President Donald Trump walked away from the tête-à-tête without an agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, simply because he thought it was a bad deal to end sanctions at this crucial moment. It is a chicken-and-egg situation. 

(March 1, 2019) Policy ideas absent from poll campaign - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

As the election campaign season moves into full swing after a nearly eight-year hiatus, many will see it as the same old tired routine of politicians smearing each other, slinging mud and squabbling all the way to the poll and beyond. 

(February 26, 2019) Thailand's Asean chair: Views from Washington - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Across the other half of the globe, Thailand's Asean chair has been viewed with scepticism and doubt. In the US, the upcoming election, the coronation and other domestic developments were perceived as variables that could impact the ambitious Thai chair. Then there is a bigger lingering question about President Donald Trump's overseas trips this year.