- ASEAN states should learn from the Thai experience in weighing the economic benefits against strategic interests. Thailand would not only have to forgo its commercial interests over vast swathes of real estate had it acceded to Chinese demands, but it would also indirectly give China an economic foothold in the country at a very low entry cost.
- The fact that China is using BRI – especially infrastructure financing – to gain political influence and economic penetration into Thailand suggests that China is using economic means as a strategic tool. ASEAN states need to carefully weigh the hidden costs of the seemingly attractive financial terms.
- Even though Thailand has been seen as leaning towards China after the 2014 coup, and has improved ties with Beijing at all levels – political, economic and strategic – it has clearly differentiated itself from Laos and affirmed that it is not a client state of China. Bangkok has shown that it will stand firm to protect its national interests when it is compromised by its much larger neighbour from the north.
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