China-Thailand military

A US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, a short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) version of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, flies past during a preview of the Singapore Airshow in Singapore on 13 February 2022. (Roslan Rahman/AFP)

Will America greenlight the sale of F-35s to Thailand?

The chief of Thailand’s air force wants to buy eight American-built F-35 fighter jets. While the sale would be a shot in the arm for the US-Thailand alliance, Washington may be reluctant to approve the sale because of Thailand’s growing military ties with China. ISEAS academic Ian Storey examines the factors at play.
Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps are seen in training in China, 21 January 2016. (Stringer/REUTERS)

Will China establish military bases in Southeast Asia?

The US Department of Defence has asserted that Beijing has “likely considered” logistics and basing infrastructure in five Southeast Asian countries. It is worth noting that such arrangements are predicated on a host nation’s inclination to support such a presence. At the moment, such willingness appears to be in short supply, except in the case of Cambodia.
Fighter jets from China's PLA Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force fly in tactical formation during exercise "Falcon Strike 2019" between the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force, August 2019. (Xie Zhongwu and Zhou Yongheng/Ministry of Defence China website)

Thai military deepens engagement with China amid pandemic

The Thai military has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to Chinese largesse, however, it will be able to secure the military kit it wants and continue its exercises with the People's Liberation Army.