Myanmar junta says it will rethink relationship with Thailand

Myanmar’s military government said this week that it would have to rethink its relationship with Thailand following statements made by the next prime minister-elect of Thailand following his election victory, according to local media.

The second most powerful man in the Myanmar regime, General Soe Win, warned his troops that Thailand’s likely new government was ‘pro West’ and would help the ‘terrorists’ operating in his country, according to The Irrawaddy newspaper.

Since taking power by force in 2001, Myanmar’s military government has embarked a bloody campaign of repression and violence sparking a low-simmering civil war with violent confrontations taking place near the Thai border.

Pita Limajaroenrat, the head of the Thailand’s Move Forward Party which won the most seats in the May 14 election, said that the country must do more to pressure Myanmar to end its bloody conflict.

“We can start that work with the international community to make sure that we have the right amount of pressure and incentives for people to resolve their conflict,” said Pita in a statement last week.

Pita referenced American non-lethal aid to the Myanmar resistance as one of the ways Thailand could increase pressure on the regime.

Troubled history

Myanmar and Thailand share a complex and multifaceted relationship, characterized by historical, cultural, economic, and geopolitical ties. The two countries share a long land border, stretching over 2,400 kilometers, which has facilitated extensive trade, migration, and cultural exchange.

Historically, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and Thailand have had both cooperative and conflictual interactions. The ancient kingdoms of both regions engaged in trade and diplomatic relations, and there have been instances of territorial disputes and armed conflicts as well. In recent times, the two countries have sought to strengthen their bilateral relations through diplomatic engagement and cooperation.

Economically, Thailand is one of Myanmar’s largest trading partners. The two countries engage in significant cross-border trade, with Thailand being a major destination for Myanmar’s exports, including natural gas, agricultural products, and minerals. Thailand also invests in various sectors of Myanmar’s economy, such as manufacturing, tourism, and infrastructure development.

There is a significant flow of people between Myanmar and Thailand. Myanmar migrant workers often seek employment in Thailand’s labor-intensive industries, while Thailand is a popular destination for Myanmar tourists. Additionally, there are ethnic minority groups, such as the Karen and Shan, residing in border areas that have cultural and ethnic connections across the border.

The political relationship between Myanmar and Thailand has had its ups and downs. Both countries have periodically dealt with internal political challenges and military rule. Historically, Thailand has sometimes provided refuge for Myanmar’s political dissidents and ethnic minority groups fleeing conflict. However, due to concerns about stability and security, Thailand has also maintained close relations with Myanmar’s military junta at times, leading to criticisms from human rights advocates.


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