Over the last several decades, there have been a number of military coups in Thailand. The Army had ousted the civilian government and, within a year or so, turned the country back over to a new civilian government. In all cases, King Bhumibol Adulyadej had blessed the military take-over.
The King is now 86 years old, has ruled Thailand for 70 years, and is in poor health. His assumed heir, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, however, does not appear to be well-regarded in Thailand. So, when the time comes, will there be an orderly transfer of power in Thailand? Also, would the New King be content to refrain from interfering in government affairs–which I do not believe is constitutional?
Meanwhile, China has recently been quite aggressive in Asia, picking fights with smaller neighbors–Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. The confrontations have been over offshore islands, which are believed to have nearby oil reserves, and perhaps also might have a tactical military advantage. To an extent, the recent Chinese new-awakening appears to be somewhat due to the recent American Asia Pivot.
Let’s say that, if and when there is a change within the Monarchy in Thailand, and if there is a political vacuum, might we see China on the horizon? Just near Thailand, the Straights of Malacca is a vital sea passage–connecting the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The “Straits” actually lie between Malaysia and Indonesia, however, Thailand also lies on the passage, just north of Malaysia. A Chinese foothold on the Straits would provide China with a decided strategic advantage.
So, given the Chinese new aggressiveness, wouldn’t a more powerful control of that vital sea passage seem to fit into its “To do” list? Now, I’m not suggesting that any of these events will actually happen. Instead, I am merely saying: “What if?”