When the U.S. made a big show of condemning Thailand after a coup in 2014, we worried that it would open the door for China to gain influence in the southeast Asian country. Since then, we’ve watched as Bangkok moved its gaze from Washington to Beijing. Now, Thailand’s finance minister says he looks forward to even more investment from China, according to The Diplomat:
China is already a significant investor in Thailand: during the first nine months of 2015, Beijing invested more than 12 billion baht (about $4 billion) into Southeast Asia’s second largest economy, making it the fourth biggest foreign investor there according to the Board of Investment (BoI). But with Thailand’s economy struggling to take off, officials have been eying even more investment from key countries, including Beijing.The government has declared 2016 a “Special Investment Promotion Year,” with a range of investment privileges designed to woo foreign investors. These include a double depreciation expense for acquiring new assets, a fast track for the approval of public private partnerships (PPPs), and several tax deductions and exemptions.
Thailand is eyeing a series of construction of infrastructure projects, and it’s been working hard to make it easier for Chinese investment, in particular, to flow into the country. As China invests larger amounts and gains more influence, the United States loses. So this story is just the latest opportunity to recognize how self-defeating the State Department’s approach in Bangkok has been for American interests.