The ‘Thai Citizens’ Group’, representing both the red shirts and yellow shirts political groups, handed a letter addressed to US President Joe Biden to the US Consulate here in Chiang Mai earlier today amidst concerns over the up and coming new US Consulate General. As Citylife published in our recent article, ‘Everything you need to know about the new US Consulate building’, the 8.8 billion baht consulate is to be complete next year.
According to Nitithorn Lamlua, a royalist, but today representing the Thai Citizens’ Group, which represents the red and yellow shirt political parties, his group is concerned about the possible political instability the consulate may cause.
The new consulate, which sits on 16 rai of land, is currently under construction in Nong Pa Krung Sub-district along the Chiang Mai-Lampang road.
According to the letter, President Biden announced the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States in February of this year, indicating that Thailand was to become a strategic partner of the US in the region.
Following the annual Cobra Gold 2022 military exercise this February, the group says that it fears the mobilisation of sophisticated technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The letter also highlighted the fact that the consulate is a mere 300 kms to our north as the crow flies from China.
The group says that the US is attempting to check China’s expansion of power. However, according to the letter, Thailand has a very strong relationship with China, and if there is any instability caused by the consulate, then Chiang Mai, a major tourist destination in Thailand, could greatly suffer.
Myanmar, our immediate neighbour is also supported heavily by both China and Russia, and indigenous tribes may be adversely affected if the United States creates conflict. Thailand, said Nitithorn, will again have to carry the burden of thousands of refugees.
“This is not some paranoid accusation,” said Nitithorn to CityNews. “The US Consulate General was founded 72 years ago and was used to disseminate news in support of China’s Kuomintang army. Thailand was also used as a base by US forces in the 1970s during the Vietnam War.”
The group says that the past shows that this consulate has a political agenda and Thai citizens need to keep a close eye on the US’s movements and activities in order to protect our national interests.
“We don’t want Chiang Mai to be used as a tool in some geo-political game,” he continued.
“Chiang Mai should be the link between our neighbours, connecting, not dividing.”
The group has four demands:
1. To reconsider the construction of the new consulate so that it has no military or strategic functions. Also to avoid all affiliation with intelligence or information gathering such as the CIA.
2. Thailand creates alliances for the benefit of the region and the world. While the consulate may help strengthen the security of the United States, it is damaging to Thailand and may be considered hostile to Thailand’s ally, China.
3. Myanmar’s internal problems are theirs alone and Thailand, along with ASEAN have taken a neutral position, which the US is advised to join.
4. That the US immediately halts all military or technology support to [groups in] Myanmar to reduce risks to Thailand.
Nitithorn went on to say that he represents many groups in Chiang Mai who share the concerns of lack of transparency as they have not been allowed to inspect the new consulate due to its diplomatic status, and are therefore rightly worried.
Another man stood up and told CityNews that all shirt colours are to be put down over shared concerns.
“We do not want Chiang Mai to be a victim to geo-political games. We do not want to be anyone’s tool.”