Thailand: The Truth Knowledge And History Of This Great Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Thailand

Introduction A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict. Thailand is currently facing separatist violence in its southern ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces.
History The region known as Thailand has been inhabited by humans since the paleolithic period, about 10,000 years ago. Prior to the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various states thrived there, such as the various Tai, Mon, Khmer and Malay kingdoms, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artifacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape. Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai, which was founded in 1238.

Following the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th – 14th century, the Buddhist Tai Kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna and Lan Chang were on the ascension. However, a century later, Sukhothai’s power was overshadowed by the new kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century.

After the fall of the Ayutthaya in 1767 to the Burmese, King Taksin the Great moved the capital of Thailand to Thonburi for a brief period. The current Rattanakosin era of Thai history began in 1782, following the establishment of Bangkok as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great.

Thailand retains a tradition of trade with its neighboring states, and the cultures of the Indian ocean and the South China sea. European trade and influence arrived to Thailand in the 16th century, beginning with the Portuguese. Despite European pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonised. Two main reasons for this were that Thailand had a long succession of very able rulers in the 1800s and that it was able to exploit the rivalry and tension between the French and the British. As a result, the country remained as a buffer state between parts of Southeast Asia that were colonized by the two colonial powers. Despite this, Western influence led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions, most notably being the loss of large territory on the east side of the Mekong to the French and the step by step absorption by Britain of the Shan (Thai Yai) States (now in Burma) and the Malay Peninsula. The loss initially included Penang and Tumasik and eventually culminated in the loss of three predominantly ethnic-Malay southern provinces, which later became Malaysia’s three northern states, under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909.

In 1932, a bloodless revolution resulted in a new constitutional monarchy. During World War II, Thailand became an ally of Japan while at the same time maintaining an active anti-Japanese resistance movement known as the Seri Thai. After the war, Thailand emerged as an ally of the United States. As with many of the developing nations during the Cold War, Thailand then went through decades of political transgression characterised by coups d’état as one military regime replaced another, but eventually progressed towards a stable prosperity and democracy in the 1980s.

In 1997, Thailand was hit with the Asian financial crisis and the Thai baht for a short time peaked at 56 baht to the US dollar compared to about 25 baht to the dollar before 1997. Since then, the baht has regained most of its strength and as of 26 December 2008, is valued at 34.71 baht to the US dollar.

The official calendar in Thailand is based on Eastern version of the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (western) calendar. For example, the year AD 2008 is called 2551 BE in Thailand.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 100 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 514,000 sq km
land: 511,770 sq km
water: 2,230 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming
Land boundaries: total: 4,863 km
border countries: Burma 1,800 km, Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malaysia 506 km
Coastline: 3,219 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid
Terrain: central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,576 m
Natural resources: tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land
Land use: arable land: 27.54%
permanent crops: 6.93%
other: 65.53% (2005)
Irrigated land: 49,860 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 409.9 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 82.75 cu km/yr (2%/2%/95%)
per capita: 1,288 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: land subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts
Environment – current issues: air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: controls only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore
Politics The politics of Thailand currently take place in a framework of a constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government and a hereditary monarch is head of state. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches.

Thailand has been ruled by kings since the thirteenth century. In 1932, the country officially became a constitutional monarchy, though in practice, the government was dominated by the military and the elite bureaucracy. The country’s current constitution was promulgated in 2007.

The King of Thailand has little direct power under the constitution but is a symbol of national identity and unity. King Bhumibol — who has been on the throne since 1946 — commands enormous popular respect and moral authority, which he has used on occasion to resolve political crises that have threatened national stability.

On 23 December 2007, a general election was held following a recent military coup by the Council for National Security on 19 September 2006. The People’s Power Party, led by Somchai Wongsawat, won the majority of seats in the parliament. A civilian coalition government was formed on 28 January 2008 with five other minor parties leaving the Democrats, led by Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, as the only opposition party.

People Population: 65,493,296
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 21.2% (male 7,104,776/female 6,781,453)
15-64 years: 70.3% (male 22,763,274/female 23,304,793)
65 years and over: 8.5% (male 2,516,721/female 3,022,281) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 32.8 years
male: 32 years
female: 33.7 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.64% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 13.57 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.17 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 18.23 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.83 years
male: 70.51 years
female: 75.27 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.64 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 570,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 58,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria
animal contact disease: rabies
water contact disease: leptospirosis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Thai (singular and plural)
adjective: Thai
Ethnic groups: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
Religions: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1% (2000 census)
Languages: Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.6%
male: 94.9%
female: 90.5% (2000 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 4.2% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
conventional short form: Thailand
local long form: Ratcha Anachak Thai
local short form: Prathet Thai
former: Siam
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: name: Bangkok
geographic coordinates: 13 45 N, 100 31 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 76 provinces (changwat, singular and plural); Amnat Charoen, Ang Thong, Buriram, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chaiyaphum, Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Chumphon, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Krung Thep Mahanakhon (Bangkok), Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Lop Buri, Mae Hong Son, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Narathiwat, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Pattani, Phangnga, Phatthalung, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phetchaburi, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phrae, Phuket, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ranong, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Roi Et, Sa Kaeo, Sakon Nakhon, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Sara Buri, Satun, Sing Buri, Sisaket, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Surat Thani, Surin, Tak, Trang, Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit, Yala, Yasothon
Independence: 1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)
National holiday: Birthday of King PHUMIPHON (BHUMIBOL), 5 December (1927)
Constitution: constitution signed by King PHUMIPHON (BHUMIBOL) on 24 August 2007
Legal system: based on civil law system, with influences of common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet or (BHUMIBOL Adulyadej) (since 9 June 1946)
head of government: Prime Minister ABHISIT Wetchachiwa, also spelled ABHISIT Vejjajiva (since 17 December 2008); Deputy Prime Minister OLARN Cahipravat (since 24 September 2008); Deputy Prime Minister SANAN Kachornprasat, also spelled SANAN Kachornparsart (since 7 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister SOMPONG Amornwiwat (since 24 September 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
note: there is also a Privy Council
elections: monarch is hereditary; according to 2007 constitution, prime minister is designated from among members of House of Representatives; following national elections for House of Representatives, leader of party that could organize a majority coalition usually was appointed prime minister by king; prime minister is limited to two 4-year terms
Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly or Rathasapha consisted of the Senate or Wuthisapha (150 seats; 76 members elected by popular vote representing 76 provinces, 74 appointed by judges and independent government bodies; all serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Sapha Phuthaen Ratsadon (480 seats; 400 members elected from 157 multi-seat constituencies and 80 elected on proportional party-list basis of 10 per eight zones or groupings of provinces; all serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate – last held on 2 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2014); House of Representatives – last election held on 23 December 2007 (next to be held in December 2011)
election results: Senate – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA; House of Representatives – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PPP 233, DP 164, TNP 34, Motherland 24, Middle Way 11, Unity 9, Royalist People’s 5
note: 74 senators were appointed on 19 February 2008 by a seven-member committee headed by the chief of the Constitutional Court; 76 senators were elected on 2 March 2008; elections to the Senate are non-partisan; registered political party members are disqualified from being senators
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Sandika (judges appointed by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders: Democrat Party or DP (Prachathipat Party) [ABHISIT Wetchachiwa, also spelled ABHISIT Vejjajiva]; Matchima Thippatai (Middle Way Party) [ANONGWAN Therpsuthin] – disbanded; Motherland Party (Peua Pandin Party); People’s Power Party (Palang Prachachon Party) or PPP [SOMCHAI Wongsawat, acting] – disbanded; Royalist People’s Party (Pracharaj) [SANOH Thienthong]; Ruam Jai Thai Party (Thai Unity Party) [CHETTA Thanacharo, also spelled CHETTHA Thanajaro]; Thai Nation Party or TNP (Chat Thai Party) [BARNHARN SILPA-ARCHA] – disbanded
Political pressure groups and leaders: People’s Alliance for Democracy; Campaign for Democracy [Pibob THONGCHAI]
International organization participation: ADB, APEC, APT, ARF, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, BIS, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, PIF (partner), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires DAMRONG Kraikruan
chancery: 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 944-3600
FAX: [1] (202) 944-3611
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Eric G. JOHN
embassy: 120-122 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330
mailing address: APO AP 96546
telephone: [66] (2) 205-4000
FAX: [66] (2) 254-2990, 205-4131
consulate(s) general: Chiang Mai
Flag description: five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red
Culture The culture of Thailand incorporates a great deal of influence from India, China, Cambodia, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Thailand’s main theology Theravada Buddhism is central to modern Thai identity and belief. In practice, Thai Buddhism has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from Hinduism, animism as well as ancestor worship. In areas in the southernmost parts of Thailand, Islam is prevalent. Several different ethnic groups, many of which are marginalized, populate Thailand. Some of these groups overlap into Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia and have maintained a distinctly traditional way of life despite strong Thai cultural influence. Overseas Chinese also form a significant part of Thai society, particularly in and around Bangkok. Their successful integration into Thai society has allowed for this group to hold positions of economic and political power, the most noteworthy of these being the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who held power from 2001 until 19 September 2006 when he was ousted by a military coup d’état.

Like most Asian cultures, respect towards ancestors is an essential part of Thai spiritual practice. Thais have a strong sense of hospitality and generosity, but also a strong sense of social hierarchy. Seniority is an important concept in Thai culture. Elders have by tradition ruled in family decisions or ceremonies.

The traditional Thai greeting, the wai, is generally offered first by the youngest of the two people meeting, with their hands pressed together, fingertips pointing upwards as the head is bowed to touch their face to the hands, usually coinciding with the spoken word “Sawat-dii khrap” for male speakers, and “Sawat-dii ka” for females. The elder then is to respond afterwards in the same way. Social status and position, such as in government, will also have an influence on who performs the wai first. For example, although one may be considerably older than a provincial governor, when meeting it is usually the visitor who pays respect first. When children leave to go to school, they are taught to wai to their parents to represent their respect for them. They do the same when they come back. The wai is a sign of respect and reverence for another, similar to the namaste greeting of India.

Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is the national sport in Thailand and its native martial art call “Muay.” In the past “Muay” was taught to Royal soldiers for combat on battlefield if unarmed. After they retired from the army, these soldiers often became Buddhist monks and stayed at the temples. Most of the Thai people’s lives are closely tied to Buddhism and temples; they often send their sons to be educated with the monks. ”Muay” is also one of the subjects taught in the temples.

Muay Thai achieved popularity all over the world in the 1990s. Although similar martial arts styles exist in other southeast Asian countries, few enjoy the recognition that Muay Thai has received with its full-contact rules allowing strikes including elbows, throws and knees. Association football, however, has possibly overtaken Muay Thai’s position as most widely viewed and liked sport in contemporary Thai society and it is not uncommon to see Thais cheering their favourite English Premier League teams on television and walking around in replica kits. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and once a competitive sport, is kite flying.

Taboos in Thailand include touching someone’s head or pointing with the feet, as the head is considered the most sacred and the foot the dirtiest part of the body. Stepping over someone, or over food, is considered insulting. However, Thai culture as in many other Asian cultures, is succumbing to the influence of globalization with some of the traditional taboos slowly fading away with time.

Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Some common ingredients used in Thai cuisine include garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, and fish sauce. The staple food in Thailand is rice, particularly jasmine variety rice (also known as Hom Mali rice) which is included in almost every meal. Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice, and Thais domestically consume over 100 kg of milled rice per person per year. Over 5000 varieties of rice from Thailand are preserved in the rice gene bank of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines. The King of Thailand is the official patron of IRRI.

Thai society has been influenced in recent years by its widely-available multi-language press and media. There are numerous English, Thai and Chinese newspapers in circulation; most Thai popular magazines use English headlines as a chic glamor factor. Most large businesses in Bangkok operate in English as well as other languages. Thailand is the largest newspaper market in South East Asia with an estimated circulation of at least 13 million copies daily in 2003. Even upcountry, out of Bangkok, media flourishes. For example, according to Thailand’s Public Relations Department Media Directory 2003-2004, the nineteen provinces of northeast Thailand themselves hosted 116 newspapers in addition to radio, TV and cable.

Economy Economy – overview: With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand appears to have fully recovered from the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. The country was one of East Asia’s best performers from 2002-04. Boosted by strong export growth, the Thai economy grew 4.5% in 2007. Bangkok has pursued preferential trade agreements with a variety of partners in an effort to boost exports and to maintain high growth. By 2007, the tourism sector had largely recovered from the major 2004 tsunami. Following the military coup in September 2006, investment and consumer confidence stagnated due to the uncertain political climate that lasted through the December 2007 elections. Foreign investor sentiment was further tempered by a 30% reserve requirement on capital inflows instituted in December 2006, and discussion of amending Thailand’s rules governing foreign-owned businesses. Economic growth in 2007 was due almost entirely to robust export performance – despite the pressure of an appreciating currency. Exports have performed at record levels, rising nearly 17% in 2006 and 12% in 2007. Export-oriented manufacturing – in particular automobile production – and farm output are driving these gains.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $521.5 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $245.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 4.8% (2007 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $8,000 (2007 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 11.4%
industry: 43.8%
services: 44.8% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 36.9 million (2007 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 49%
industry: 14%
services: 37% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 1.4% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 10% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 33.4% (2002)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 42 (2002)
Investment (gross fixed): 26.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $44.14 billion
expenditures: $49.83 billion (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 October – 30 September
Public debt: 37.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.2% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 3.75% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 7.05% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $28.62 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $216.6 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $241.8 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: rice, cassava (tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans
Industries: tourism, textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing such as jewelry and electric appliances, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics, automobiles and automotive parts; world’s second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer
Industrial production growth rate: 5.4% (2007 est.)
Electricity – production: 130.7 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 123.9 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 731 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 4.488 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 91.3%
hydro: 6.4%
nuclear: 0%
other: 2.4% (2001)
Oil – production: 348,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 928,600 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 207,400 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 832,900 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 460 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 25.4 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 35.3 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 9.8 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 331.2 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $14.92 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $151.1 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports – commodities: textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice, rubber, jewelry, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances
Exports – partners: US 12.6%, Japan 11.9%, China 9.7%, Singapore 6.3%, Hong Kong 5.7%, Malaysia 5.1% (2007)
Imports: $125.2 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports – commodities: capital goods, intermediate goods and raw materials, consumer goods, fuels
Imports – partners: Japan 20.3%, China 11.6%, US 6.8%, Malaysia 6.2%, UAE 4.9%, Singapore 4.5%, Taiwan 4.1% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $171.1 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $87.46 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt – external: $59.52 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $80.83 billion (2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $7.013 billion (2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $139.6 billion (2006)
Currency (code): baht (THB)
Currency code: THB
Exchange rates: baht per US dollar – 33.599 (2007), 37.882 (2006), 40.22 (2005), 40.222 (2004), 41.485 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 7.024 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 51.377 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: high quality system, especially in urban areas like Bangkok
domestic: fixed line system provided by both a government owned and commercial provider; wireless service expanding rapidly and outpacing fixed lines
international: country code – 66; connected to major submarine cable systems providing links throughout Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 238, FM 351, shortwave 6 (2007)
Radios: 13.96 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 111 (2006)
Televisions: 15.19 million (1997)
Internet country code: .th
Internet hosts: 1.116 million (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 15 (2000)
Internet users: 13.416 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 106 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 65
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 6 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 41
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 28 (2007)
Heliports: 3 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 4,381 km; refined products 320 km (2007)
Railways: total: 4,071 km
narrow gauge: 4,071 km 1.000-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 180,053 km (includes 450 km of expressways) (2006)
Waterways: 4,000 km
note: 3,701 km navigable by boats with drafts up to 0.9 m (2005)
Merchant marine: total: 398
by type: bulk carrier 53, cargo 135, chemical tanker 15, container 22, liquefied gas 28, passenger/cargo 10, petroleum tanker 100, refrigerated cargo 32, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 1
foreign-owned: 16 (China 1, Japan 4, Malaysia 3, Singapore 2, Taiwan 1, UK 5)
registered in other countries: 40 (Bahamas 5, Mongolia 1, Panama 10, Singapore 23, Tuvalu 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Prachuap Port, Si Racha
Military Military branches: Royal Thai Army (RTA), Royal Thai Navy (RTN, includes Royal Thai Marine Corps), Royal Thai Air Force (Knogtap Agard Thai, RTAF) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 21 years of age for compulsory military service; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; males are registered at 18 years of age; 2-year conscript service obligation (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 17,553,410
females age 16-49: 17,751,268 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 12,968,674
females age 16-49: 14,058,779 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 531,315
female: 511,288 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.8% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: separatist violence in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim southern provinces prompt border closures and controls with Malaysia to stem terrorist activities; Southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Laos but disputes remain over several islands in the Mekong River; despite continuing border committee talks, Thailand must deal with Karen and other ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities, and as of 2006, over 116,000 Karen, Hmong, and other refugees and asylum seekers from Burma; Cambodia and Thailand dispute sections of historic boundary with missing boundary markers; Cambodia claims Thai encroachments into Cambodian territory and obstructing access to Preah Vihear temple ruins awarded to Cambodia by ICJ decision in 1962; Thailand is studying the feasibility of jointly constructing the Hatgyi Dam on the Salween river near the border with Burma; in 2004, international environmentalist pressure prompted China to halt construction of 13 dams on the Salween River that flows through China, Burma, and Thailand
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 132,241 (Burma) (2007)
Illicit drugs: a minor producer of opium, heroin, and marijuana; transit point for illicit heroin en route to the international drug market from Burma and Laos; eradication efforts have reduced the area of cannabis cultivation and shifted some production to neighboring countries; opium poppy cultivation has been reduced by eradication efforts; also a drug money-laundering center; minor role in methamphetamine production for regional consumption; major consumer of methamphetamine since the 1990s despite a series of government crackdowns

Thailand’s PM Leaves a Life-Size Cardboard Cut-Out to Answer Questions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

By LAIGNEE BARRON

2:50 AM EST

Thailand’s junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha has come up with a novel way to deflect journalists’ questions: just pass them off to a cardboard likeness.

At a press conference in Bangkok, Prayuth, who serves as prime minister of the country’s military-run government, briefly addressed a crowd of reporters and families, according to the BBC. It appeared as if he was going to finish the event by taking questions, but Prayuth had something else in mind; supervising the installation of a life-sized cardboard cut-out of himself.

“If you want to ask any questions on politics or conflict, ask this guy,” the Prime Minister said before walking away. Social media users were quick to respond.

Since Thailand’s military seized power in a 2014 coup, Prayuth has had an openly antagonistic relationship with the media. In 2015, he boasted that he would execute journalists who “did not report the truth” about his government, which has often used draconian defamation laws to prosecute critics and activists. Under his tenure the country has restricted media freedoms, forced television networks off the air and dropped from 129 to 140 out of the 180 nations ranked by Reporters Without Border’s annual Press Freedom Index.

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2 Americans who bared butts at Bangkok temples are arrested

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

 

2 Americans who bared butts at Bangkok temples are arrested

Two American men who were reportedly honeymooning in Thailand were detained after they shared photos of their exposed butts taken at two famous Bangkok temples.

The pair, Joseph and Travis DaSilva of San Diego, both 38, were arrested at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok on Tuesday, just days after they uploaded photos of their bared backsides to Instagram, the Bangkok Post reported; the photos were taken at Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) and Wat Pho temples.

“They were detained as they were about to leave Thailand,” said Col. Cherngron Rimpadee, an immigration police spokesman. The colonel said the couple were on a “watch list” after their social media posts caught authorities’ attention.

“Once they are through with the charges, the Thai immigration police will revoke their visas and push for deportation,” he said, according to the BBC. “They will also be blacklisted from coming back to Thailand.”

He added that the two men admitted to taking down their pants and posing for photos at the temples.

The DaSilvas were charged with getting naked in public and fined $150 apiece. However, some Thai officials have told the media that there could be more serious charges. Officials are now seeking court approval to prosecute them on the Computer Crime Act for uploading pornographic pictures, Col. Jarupat Thongkomol said from the police station near the temple, Agence France-Press reported. They could face jail time.

The couple were in Thailand celebrating their honeymoon one year after tying the knot, according to San Diego’s NBC 7.

San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez said the men reached out to him for assistance. “Though I am very disappointed in their actions, I am talking to U.S. government officials to see what assistance we can give them,” Murray-Ramirez told San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

Wat Arun and Wat Pho, known to many travelers as the home of the golden reclining Buddha, are considered two of the holiest places in Thailand.

According to reports, this is not the first time the couple have posted images of their naked backsides online. The now-deleted Instagram account, @traveling_butts, followed their adventures across the globe with pictures of their bare bottoms at famous tourist sites around the world.

While some of the posts seemed harmless, the photos of the two men in Thailand triggered an intense backlash once they went viral, news.com.au reported.

In 2015, two American women were arrested, fined and deported for taking nude photographs inside Cambodia’s Angkor Wat complex.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com.

Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

China’s Silk Road push in Thailand may founder on Mekong River row

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

China’s Silk Road push in Thailand may founder on Mekong River row

A Chinese boat, with a team of geologists, surveys the Mekong River at border between Laos and Thailand April 23, 2017. Picture taken April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
By Brenda Goh and Andrew R.C. Marshall | KHON PI LONG, THAILAND

China’s plan to blast open more of the Mekong River for bigger cargo ships could founder on a remote outcrop of half-submerged rocks that Thai protesters have vowed to protect against Beijing’s economic expansion in Southeast Asia.

Dynamiting the Pi Long rapids and other sections of the Mekong between Thailand and Laos will harm the environment and bring trade advantages only to China, the protesters say.

“This will be the death of the Mekong,” said Niwat Roykaew, chairman of the Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group, which is campaigning against the project. “You’ll never be able to revive it.”

Niwat said blasting the Mekong will destroy fish breeding grounds, disrupt migrating birds and cause increased water flow that will erode riverside farmland.

Such opposition reflects a wider challenge to China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” project to build a modern-day Silk Road through Asia to Europe.

Second Harbour Consultants, a subsidiary of state-owned behemoth China Communications Construction Corp (CCCC) (601800.SS) said it was surveying the Mekong for a report that China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand would use to decide whether blasting should go ahead.

It added that it was not tasked with the blasting work, which would need to be tendered.

The company said in an e-mail it had held meetings with local people “to communicate, build confidence and clear doubts.”

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Clearing the Mekong for bigger ships is not officially a part of One Belt, One Road, a project announced in 2013; China blasted sections of the river in Laos several years earlier.

But some Chinese engineers involved in the survey speak of it as a part of the broader plan, and it is consistent with Beijing’s Silk Road objectives.

Even in its Southeast Asian backyard, where it has sympathetic governments and ancient historical ties, China sometimes struggles to convince ordinary people that One Belt One Road will benefit them.

Thailand, Laos and Myanmar have approved the survey work, which is funded by China, but further studies and approvals are needed before blasting.

KEEPING A LOW PROFILE

The Mekong River originates in the Tibetan plateau and cascades through China and five Southeast Asian countries.

China has built a series of dams along its stretch of the river that Thai campaigners say has impacted the water flow and made the regional giant hard to trust.

Chinese flags now flutter from company speedboats, while CCCC Second Harbour has met with Thai protesters three times since December in a bid to avert opposition to their work.

A unit of the conglomerate faced violent protests in January in Sri Lanka, where people objected to plans for an industrial zone in the south.

Chinese engineers on the Mekong said they were worried that Thai protesters would board the rickety cargo ship where they slept, prompting them to moor it on the Laotian side of the Mekong each night.

“We are afraid for our team’s safety,” one engineer told Reuters, declining to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

“We keep a low profile here,” he added. “We want to do this project well and benefit Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, China, these four countries. This is not just for China.”

China wants to remove rocks and sandbanks to allow ships of up to 500 tonnes to sail from its landlocked province of Yunnan to the sleepy Laotian town of Luang Prabang.

That would expedite the shipping of Chinese freight deep into northern Laos, said Paul Chambers, an expert in international relations at Thailand’s Naresuan University.

“Luang Prabang may seem sleepy, but northern Laos … represents a hub of Chinese influence,” he said.

LOCALS REMAIN WARY

Despite reassurances from CCCC Second Harbour, some locals still believed the engineers were marking out areas for blasting, said Niwat, who represented campaigners in meetings with the Chinese company.

His group draped a large white banner reading “Mekong Not For Sale” on the bank overlooking the Pi Long rapids, whose name in Thai means “lost ghosts.”

“At the moment we’re only thinking about the economy and the earning figures without considering the unimaginable value of the eco-system to humanity,” he said.

The military seized power in Thailand in 2014 and banned gatherings of five or more people.

But Narongsak Osotthanakorn, governor of Chiang Rai – the Thai province where the Mekong is currently being surveyed – said people could “protest freely” against the Chinese plan.

Narongsak said the survey was the first stage in a process that would include an environmental study, public hearings and negotiations between China, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.

While he wouldn’t say whether or not he supported blasting, Narongsak said local people had much to gain from increased river trade. “I think no country would be happy to lose the benefits,” he said.

(Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This Is How President Trump Is Going To Commit Treason Against The Working Class Who Voted For Him

 

First I would like to say to the readers of this article that I hope that I am wrong on this issue, but I don’t think that I am going to be wrong about President Trump and his agenda. As most of the people here in the States know, it was the white working class male voters who helped a whole lot in getting Mr. Trump elected last November. I just said working class though I almost said ‘middle-class’, the reason for saying working class instead is because as almost all of us know, the middle class has been sinking into the lower middle class arena for several decades now.  Our American financial society used to always be considered to be labeled into mainly three classes, you had the rich folks who tended to own the businesses where the middle class/working class earned their income while hoping to be able to have a decent life style. Then you had the working poor who were busting their behinds each day in menial jobs who were just trying to survive at all. These folks tend to be less educated and could only find minimum wage type jobs.

 

I was born in 1956 in a small  town in southwest Virginia to parents who never had the chance to go to college and were factory workers their whole lives. I learned early on that these factories only paid the minimum wage, what they had to by law. During the early 1960’s this wage was $1.25 per hour and this is what they both made. These factories only paid overtime because they were forced to by law but they did not have to give any benefits to their employees like insurance of any kind, or holiday pay, and they did not. Some politicians, mostly just Republicans, who argue that the people making the minimum wage are only teenagers and kids who are in school working part-time. People who live in the real world know that this argument is total BS. If these politicians lived in the real world they would also know that many millions of Americans work for companies that only pay between 10-50 cents per hour above whatever the minimum wage is at the time. Simply put almost all companies only pay their employees as much as they are forced to pay by law. The reason is simple and this reason is honest and true, the less you as an employer pay out in expenses the higher the profit amount that goes to the CEO’s and to the stockholders. This is just like in politics, the two parties want all of the credit on good bills and they are not willing to share in the glory. With companies the top end wants higher profits so that they can get bigger paychecks, the Stock Market then reinforces this theology of greed. Throughout human history it has been true that the people who are physically making the products receive the lowest income. Any pie is only finite, they are only just so large, their pieces are just capable of being so big, the trouble is when it comes to business everyone is wanting a bigger slice of that pie and the only way to achieve this is to take away from others who are in that pie pan with them.

 

For 14 years I lived in the Morristown Tennessee area so I am going to use Berkline as an example of greed and of not caring anything about the ‘working class’. When I moved there I went to change over my car plates and driver’s license as the law requires. I went there on a Monday morning shortly after they opened for business. When I came into the building there were two rather long lines of young Hispanic folks already there so I just fell into the back of a line. A lady that worked inside noticed me and she came out and got me and took me inside. When I asked her about the two lines of folks she told me that they were only there to get a state I.D. so that they could go to work, they weren’t there to do the same things I was there for. While doing the paperwork for me she told me her story about Berkline. She said she had worked there for 14 years and was only making about 25 cents above the  minimum wage. She said that one Monday morning as she was at her job station waiting for the ‘get to work’ buzzer to sound that her foreman came up to her with a very young Hispanic male who couldn’t even speak English and told her that this was her replacement that she was fired. You see, the company was busing in Mexican folks to take the local folks jobs. Think about it for a moment, you as a company fire your experienced workers who are barely making the minimum wage for people who have no experience, why would you do that? The answer is simple, the new hires were being paid less than the minimum wage and they knew that these folks would work hard and that they were afraid to complain about the work or the working conditions. Berkline was the largest employer in Morristown at that time and they basically fired almost all of the local workers. This situation lasted for a few years then the company decided it was cheaper to quit shipping workers up there from Mexico and just close the Morristown factory and move their operation to Mexico, so they did. The local economy lost hundreds of jobs at it really hurt the local economy. Now this type of issue is a big part of what Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric was about, punishing companies who do and or have done this type of thing. By the way, Berkline is the company that makes Lazy Boy furniture.

 

Now to the meat of this article. As we all know Mr. Trump is very pro business and I do not have any problem with this fact. Yet even though he says he will bring the “good” jobs back to America and he is/was talking about manufacturing jobs, as he has often said the “we” here in America don’t make anything any more. This sounds great and I hope he can do it. He also talks about lowering the business income tax down to about 15% and I do not have a problem with that either, as long as all the loopholes are eliminated so that they are actually paying that 15%.  Mr. Trump has a history of bashing Union workers and their Unions because they make too much money. He has recently bashed the Auto Industries and then he bashed the workers and their Union at the Carrier Air Conditioner factory in Indianapolis Indiana for the same thing. He very obviously believes that Union workers are lazy and overpaid. Mr. Trump has also spoken out several times about the minimum wage being to high as he has said ‘companies can’t afford it’. So here is what I believe Mr. Trumps ideology is about ‘bringing the good jobs’ back to this Country. His policies may help to bring jobs here to the States and they may well be industrial manufacturing type of jobs. But, here is my concern, let’s say a new steel mill opens back up in Bethlehem PA and they hire 500 workers to fill those open jobs, at $5.00 per hour with no benefits of any kind. Would this be a ‘good’ job for the employees? If he is able to get rid of the minimum wage and overtime laws (which he has also said he favors because of the expense to the company’s) Americans  will find themselves working ‘menial’ jobs like sales clerks and at burger joints like McDonald’s for two or three dollars per hour.

 

Before you say that this can’t happen, that Mr. Trump would never do something like this I want you to consider two pieces of facts. 1) Think about it , all of Mr. Trump’s businesses  products he has them made in third-world countries. The reason is very simple, higher profits for him personally. He has his products made in countries where there is no EPA laws to worry about, no minimum wage laws so the sweat shops can employ children and women at a dollar per day wages, no overtime pay laws, no benefits, no OSHA laws to protect the workers. He has spent his whole adult life preying on the poorest of the poor for his own personal benefit, do you really think he has all of a sudden changed, really? 2) When a company leaves the States and moves to (for example) Thailand or Malaysia or China they made the move to bring down their costs, if your company is on the Stock Market this is a great move for your stockholders. But who loses when this is done, folks it is the working class people here in the States. Now for the purpose of an illustration let us take cars as an example or shirts or shoes. The company closes their factory in let’s say Michigan and moved their production to Mexico for the purpose of cutting the company’s cost per unit. Have you ever seen the price of that product lowered for the consumer? The company’s aren’t going to move back to the States unless it is financially profitable for them to do so. I honestly believe that Mr. Trump’s intentions are to make himself and his billionaire buddies the recipients of a cash windfall at the expense of the people physically doing the work. You may get a new job because of Mr. Trump’s policies but if it is a $3.00 per hour job but the cost of living doesn’t drop with the wages there are going to be a lot more homeless and starving people right here in the States. Are you really naive enough to believe Mr. Trump gives a damn about you or your family? Like I said at the beginning of this article, I hope that I am wrong about these issues but I seriously doubt  that I am wrong on this.

Thailand’s Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn Proclaimed King

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBURG NEWS)

Thailand’s Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn Proclaimed King

December 1, 2016 — 10:21 AM EST December 1, 2016 — 10:46 AM EST
  • New monarch inherits control of fortune worth tens of billions
  • Vajiralongkorn is the sole son of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Thailand has its first new monarch in seven decades after Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was formally proclaimed the 10th king in the Chakri Dynasty.

Vajiralongkorn, 64, accepted the military-backed legislature’s invitation to become King Rama X. The move announced Thursday was expected given that Vajiralongkorn was the only son and designated heir of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died Oct. 13 at age 88.

“I wish to announce that His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has succeeded the throne since October 13 onward,” said Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, the president of the National Legislative Assembly, the unelected body installed by the junta that seized control of the country in a 2014 coup. The procedure was a formality mandated under Thailand’s constitution.

Vajiralongkorn replaces the only monarch most Thais alive today have known and one who was seen as a symbol of continuity during a reign marked by dozens of changes in prime minister and 10 coups. The career soldier inherits control of a fortune that runs to the tens of billions of dollars and includes stakes in some of the nation’s largest companies.

“Let us all unite to pray to the late King Bhumibol for him to protect the new king to be the pillar of the Thai people and Thailand,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said in televised comments after Vajiralongkorn ascended to the throne.

Stocks

Thailand’s benchmark stock index has climbed about 7 percent since Bhumibol’s death, after falling in the week prior as his health deteriorated. The economic impact from the mourning period appears limited, with the Bank of Thailand leaving its 2016 growth forecast of 3.2 percent unchanged.

Vajiralongkorn, the father of seven children, has been married three times. His personal life has been the subject of gossip on outlawed websites and in leaked diplomatic cables. He becomes king at a time when the institution’s role in society faces increasing scrutiny after the political unrest that marred the twilight of his father’s reign.

“Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn neither commands the respect nor displays the charisma of his beloved father,” read a confidential U.S. cable from July 2009 addressed to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and released via WikiLeaks. “Nearly everyone expects the monarchy to shrink and change in function after succession.” The royal palace doesn’t comment on political matters.

Lese Majeste

Vajiralongkorn is protected by lese majeste laws that allow for as long as 15 years in prison for those convicted of threatening or insulting key members of the royal family. Prosecutions spiked following the latest coup and again following Bhumibol’s death, and a number of Thai academics, activists and politicians have fled abroad to avoid what they say is persecution under the law.

Thailand’s new king rarely speaks in public, and little is formally revealed of how he spends his time. He is known to travel to Germany, where his personal jet is recorded making landings. Vajiralongkorn made a brief statement Thursday accepting the invitation to become king. It was his first public comment since his father’s death, though he has participated in royal funeral ceremonies. Prayuth said in October that Vajiralongkorn wanted time to mourn before he was formally declared king.

Asked in the 1980 BBC documentary Soul of Nation what it was like to be crown prince, Vajiralongkorn replied: “The first second of my life I am a prince. It is difficult to say what it is like to be a fish when you are a fish or what it is like to be a bird when you are a bird.”

Coronation

He went on to say that there are advantages and disadvantages to every life. “I am not special,” he said.

While Vajiralongkorn is now king, the government has indicated that his formal coronation ceremony will not be held until after the declared year of mourning for Bhumibol is complete and his cremation has taken place. He will immediately take on the role of head of state under Thailand’s constitutional monarchy, and all legislation will require his seal of approval.

Vajiralongkorn will also have influence over royal investments held by the Crown Property Bureau, which by 2012 climbed to an estimated $41.3 billion — more than three times that of the British throne. Forbes magazine had previously called Bhumibol the world’s wealthiest monarch.

The bureau controls major stakes in some of Thailand’s largest companies, including Siam Cement Pcl and Siam Commercial Bank Pcl. It also owns vast tracts of land across the country, including some of the most expensive land in Bangkok.

Military Training

As king, Vajiralongkorn will have the power to appoint the bureau’s director-general and board members apart from the chairman, a position taken by the finance minister. The bureau, which pays no tax, is under no obligation to provide details of its earnings or how they are spent. The bureau’s annual budget and all disbursements require the signature of the sitting monarch.

The second oldest of Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit’s four children, Vajiralongkorn studied in Australia, graduating from the Royal Military College at Duntroon in 1975. Upon his return he was made a captain in the Thai army and was a serving officer in the fight against communists. He is a qualified pilot, flying helicopters, fighter jets and his own Boeing 737.

Vajiralongkorn has seven children from three marriages. His third wife Princess Srirasm surrendered her royal title and has not been seen in public for several years. In late 2014, the crown prince abruptly stripped several members of her family of their royally bestowed surname and several of them — including her parents — were later jailed for lese majeste.

As Vajiralongkorn’s reign begins he will be faced with the expectations of the past. The monarchy is steeped in Buddhist tradition and a Thai king is given respect and power because his subjects assent to it on the belief he is worthy, according to “King Bhumibol Adulyadej: A Life’s Work,” a semi-official biography written by a group of academics and journalists with an advisory board that includes former leaders.“A good king who fulfills the expectations of the Buddhist ideal can command enormous reverence and authority,” it said. “A bad king rules weakly.”

— With assistance by Chris Blake

Chinese president arrives in India’s Goa for BRICS summit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Chinese president arrives in India’s Goa for BRICS summit

CHINESE President Xi Jinping arrived in the western Indian state of Goa Saturday for a summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Leaders of the five countries are expected to discuss BRICS cooperation and other issues of common concern at the Oct. 15-16 summit, themed with “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.”

A Goa declaration will be issued when the summit concludes Sunday.

Along with Xi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma will be attending the summit, the eighth of its kind.

The five leaders will hold dialogues with representatives of the BRICS Business Council and state leaders of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries at the summit.

The BIMSTEC, initiated to connect South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

President Xi will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries on the sidelines of the summit.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRICS cooperation mechanism, which gathers the world’s five major emerging economies.

The bloc members have seen their cooperation growing over the past decade, especially the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) in 2014.

Despite economic headwinds in the BRICS countries and external skepticism about whether the block is losing its power over recent years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said earlier this month in its latest issue of World Economic Outlook that in emerging market and developing economies, the 2016 growth will accelerate for the first time in six years.

China and India, in particular, will continue their relatively fast pace in growth this year and next, according to the IMF projections. Meanwhile, the IMF cut its 2016 growth prospects for advanced economies following a slowdown in the United States and Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union.

The five BRICS leaders just met last month in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou when China hosted the 11th summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.

At their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, President Xi said that BRICS members should enhance coordination to make emerging-market economies and developing countries play a bigger role in international affairs.

BRICS nations are leaders among emerging-market economies and developing countries, and also important members of the G20, Xi said, noting that they should reinforce coordination to build, maintain and develop the BRICS and G20 platforms.

China has been a staunch supporter for and an active participant in BRICS cooperation, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong told reporters earlier this week.

“We hope the Goa summit can send out a positive signal of confidence, solidarity and cooperation, help deepen our practical cooperation and promote the cooperation level, enhance communication and coordination on major international issues to safeguard our shared interests, and strengthen dialogue and cooperation with other countries in the region,” Li said at a press conference ahead of Xi’s trip.

India is the final stop of Xi’s Southeast Asia and South Asia tour, which has already taken him to Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Before leaving Bangladesh on Saturday morning, Xi laid a wreath at the national martyr monument in Dhaka.

Thailand’s King Dies: World Financial Markets Seem To Only Care About Profits From It

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Thai Baht Holds Gain After King Dies in Sign Selloff May Unwind

October 13, 2016 — 9:35 AM EDTUpdated on October 13, 2016 — 10:42 AM EDT
  • Some strategists saw uncertainty fueling this week’s slump
  • Bonds, stocks had been heading for worst week since 2013

Thailand’s baht held gains and an exchange-traded fund tracking the nation’s shares rose after the Royal Household Bureau said King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, had died.

The baht rose 0.7 percent to 35.42 per dollar as of 10:27 a.m. in New York. The local stock market had rebounded with the currency, closing higher before the king’s death was announced. Earlier in the week, Thailand’s assets had tumbled after the royal palace said Sunday that King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s health was “unstable.”

“People are already pretty much factoring a lot of uncertainty right now,” said James Woods, a strategist at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, speaking before the announcement. “You may see another push lower, but really, after that it’s just going to be about how quickly the royal family comes out to stabilize the market with comments and what their succession plan is. Once that is in place and investors have certainty, then it’s back to business as usual.”

The iShares MSCI Thailand Capped ETF climbed 1.8 percent to $67.95 in New York, trimming its loss this week to 7.8 percent.

Priced In

“The uncertainties and political risks have been more or less priced in,” Margaret Yang, an analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said by phone after the news. “We may still see some panic selling but I don’t expect this to last for very long. Eventually smart money will flow in to support the market.”

Thailand’s SET Index has fallen 6.1 percent this week, with 30-day volatility on the gauge climbing on Wednesday to the highest level since January. The baht reached the lowest since January and at one stage was heading for its worst week in a decade.

The SET rose 15 percent in the first nine months of the year, the most among Southeast Asia’s major gauges after the Jakarta Composite Index. Stocks entered a bull market in July and reached the highest level in 15 months in August as economic growth accelerated and emerging-market assets rallied.

Stimulus Measures

Equities had also been aided as stimulus measures to help shield the country from China’s economic slowdown made the nation’s shares a haven for overseas funds. Foreign investors have poured $3.8 billion into Thai equities this year, the biggest inflow in Southeast Asia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Thailand’s economic fundamentals remain unaffected, which should help it to weather this storm,” Jingyi Pan, a Singapore-based strategist at IG Asia Pte, said by e-mail before the announcement. “The military government which has overseen the economy during a period of increasing GDP growth, could help to guide the country through the period.”

Global funds pulled more than $950 million from Thai bonds in four straight days of selling, heading for the largest weekly outflows since May 2013. The nation’s 10-year government yield rose 11 basis points this week to 2.32 percent, the highest since January.

The nation’s bond market had been struggling even before the king’s health spurred further declines, as higher oil prices threatened to spur inflation and prompting traders to price in chances for a Bank of Thailand interest-rate increase. Thailand’s sovereign notes have slumped 2.1 percent in the past six months, compared with gains of more than 6 percent in India and Indonesia and a 2.9 percent advance in Malaysia.

Growth Outlook

Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy may grow as much as 3.5 percent in 2016 from 3.2 percent last year on the government’s accelerating spending, according to the National Economic and Social Development Board. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who took power in a May 2014 military coup, has issued a series of economic stimulus measures valued at more than 645 billion baht since September 2015 to help shore up local demand.Soo Hai Lim, investment director at Baring Asset Management (Asia) Ltd. in Hong Kong, says there’s a potential buying opportunity.

“A lot of people are nervous about the situation,” he said. “It is something that investors cannot dismiss outright but with the military in charge, the situation in Thailand should be manageable. Quite a number of companies are still delivering quite good growth despite the challenging macro economic environment. This incident is unfortunate but it’s something we’re aware of. The king has been sick for a while.”

China’s Version Of Cooperation With Other Asian Countries In The South China Sea

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)

Asian, China code for sea encounters

LEADERS from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China issued a joint statement yesterday on the application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea in the South China Sea.

The statement was issued after the two sides held the 19th Asia-China Summit in Laotian capital Vientiane and commemorated the 25th anniversary of relations between Asia and China.

The document reaffirmed commitment to the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the Joint Statement of the Foreign Ministers of Asian Member States and China on the Full and Effective Implementation of the DOC, including the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight.

It said the two sides recognized that maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea region serves the fundamental interests of Asian member states and China as well as the international community.

The joint statement recognized that Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and China are members of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium and have adopted CUES.

CUES, as a coordinated means of communication to maximize safety at sea, offers a means by which navies may develop mutually rewarding international cooperation and transparency, according to the document.

Leaders from the two sides reaffirmed in the statement their commitment to CUES in order to improve operational safety of naval ships and naval aircraft in air and at sea, and ensure mutual trust.

The document said the leaders agreed to use the safety and communication procedures for the safety of all the naval ships and naval aircraft, as set out in CUES, when they encounter each other in the South China Sea.

Premier Li Keqiang said relations between China and Asia have made great strides and promoted regional peace, stability and prosperity.

China and Asia have valued the development and cooperation of the principle of mutual respect, understanding, trust and support since 1991, when they established the dialogue relations, he said.

“The past 25 years have seen growing mutual trust and pragmatic achievements made between China and Asia,” he said yesterday.

The premier added that China has always regarded Asia as an important force in safeguarding regional peace and stability and in promoting regional integration and world multi-polarization.

Li also pledged to give Asia a priority in China’s drive to develop its relations with neighboring countries.

He said China will support the building of an Asian community, Asia’s central role in regional cooperation, and its growing part to play in international and regional affairs.

China is willing to work with Asian nations to cement the strategic communication between the two sides, advance the 2+7 cooperation framework, and energetically promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges, he said.

Asian leaders, who praised the amazing achievements the two sides have made in the past 25 years, echoed the premier’s thoughts and expressed confidence for their relations in future.

Asian leaders said the development of relations with China would benefit Asian nations and are conducive to building an Asian community.

Asia is ready to cement the relations and tap new potential in promoting mutual political trust, deepening economic and trade cooperation, and expanding people-to-people and cultural exchanges with China, they said.

They looked forward to lifting China-Asian relations to a new level to promote regional peace and development.

In the ceremony held at the National Convention Center in Vientiane, Li and Asian leaders watched a short film chronicling China’s growing relations with Asia in the last quarter of a century and looking into their bright prospects in the future.

Li and Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith also inaugurated a handbook titled “25 Years of Asian-China Dialogue and Cooperation: Facts and Figures.”

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose country is the coordinator of China-Asian relations, joined them to cut a commemorative cake.

 
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