Originally published at Siam Voices on December 15, 2010
While most of the media focussing on the trials and controversies over it’s founder Julian Assange (he’s been granted bail by the way, in case you haven’t heard yet), the whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks has been steadily, albeit slowly, uploading US diplomat cables. So far, there have been almost 1500 documents leaked and only 2 were from the US embassy in Bangkok. Nevertheless there have been Thailand-related cables popping up from other places, where diplomats from regional neighbors have been chiming on Thailand – some of them quite explosive (see Bangkok Pundit’s posts here, here and here).
Over the weekend, a cable from Beijing, classified as ‘secret’ appeared on the site describing a meeting in March 2007 between Chinese diplomats and Eric G. John, then Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asian Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and current ambassador to Thailand. Apart from mainly talking about Myanmar, the cable also reveals this:
Reinforcing Democracy in Post-Coup Thailand
20. Thailand has a long history of peaceful democracy, which is in China’s interest to support, DG Hu said. While not an ideal turn of events, the September 2006 coup emanated from “very specific circumstances” and did not involve violence, DG Hu said. Noting that he had just returned from Thailand, DG Hu quipped that, even with the coup, Thailand is still more democratic than Singapore, highlighting his belief that the coup was an aberration in Thai politics rather than a signal of long-term change. Still, given the recent resignation of former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Pridiyathorn Thewakun and […], Beijing is closely monitoring the political situation in Bangkok. China has invited Thai Prime Minister Surayut Chulanon [sic!] to visit China in late May and hopes to use the visit as an opportunity to demonstrate Beijing’s support for a stable, peaceful transition of power in Thailand, DG Hu said.
07BEIJING1448, DAS JOHN DISCUSSES BURMA, SOUTHEAST ASIA WITH AFM, created 2007-03-05 12:12, via WikiLeaks
The remarks by the Chinese diplomats reflect what many probably were thinking shortly after the coup that this was a short period of transition, a carte blanche, a reset of Thai politics if you will – even it was clear (at least in hindsight) that the Thai military was regaining long-lasting political influence. May be that Chinese diplomat now thinks otherwise.