Hedging Chinese bets

9 12 2015

In the current ambassadorial arm-wrestling with the military junta, with the US and UK ambassadors being very gently, mildly critical and the French ambassador/salesman polishing military posteriors, PPT was interested to note the Chinese ambassador placing a bet on junta an future monarch.Bike for dad

The Bangkok Post reports that “Chinese ambassador to Thailand Ning Fukui gave 99 bicycles to the government Tuesday for the ‘Bike for Dad’ event this Friday…. Along with the bicycles, the ambassador also delivered his best wishes for … the King for his 88th birthday.”

88 is a lucky number for many Chinese and Sino-Thais and 99 is a lucky number for Thais. 99 bikes may not seem many when the junta is demanding and predicting 600,000 to be involved, but the Chinese contribution gets multiple ticks.

First, the ambassador presented the bikes to junta boss and coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The Dictator “thanked the Chinese ambassador for the bicycles and affirmed the closeness of ties between the nations…”.

Second, both the Chinese ambassador and The Dictator get ticks by presenting “the bicycles to … Crown Prince … Vajiralongkorn.”

Which side are the Chinese betting on? We think they are hedging and betting on all sides, and reaping benefits as the junta looks north and awards contracts to Chinese firms and state enterprises.