While Thailand maintains it is friendly with the west and the United States remains Thailand’s number one ally there are now the obvious indications that the country has hopped into bed with China in more than one way.

Spy or Janitor? – Coldface

First of all of course there are all those Chinese minorities who are either openly handed back on a plate to the Chinese after seeking safety in Thailand, and then there are those dissident Chinese, who just turn up back home travelling presumably by Tardis, having sought sanctuary in Thailand, and are now confessing crimes, quicker than a Burman on a Thai holiday island.
The fear for many Chinese in Thailand is very real and shortly before I left Thailand a number of Chinese beat their way to my door in Bangkok. Well not literally my door – we tended to meet on neutral territory. I was as cautious as they were.  

Curiously none of the Chinese ‘defectors’ I met had actually come to Thailand on holiday.

They all seemed exceptionally nice but all were very scared.  Some were on bail from Chonburi, having been arrested, they said, on false charges and then visited in prison by Chinese security personnel in full military uniform, others had come illegally across the Laotian border.

Some sought asylum abroad in Britain, America, or Europe, and some thought information they had might be useful to the US or British governments and help their cases. 

Others wanted to make their way just to a neighbouring country as Thailand was not quite as friendly as expected, which in fact was exactly what I was planning at the time.

(While I was free to come and go as I please I did not want particular criminal groups, who had ‘operatives’  as they called them at Suvarnabhumi international airport, to make life difficult.)

I empathised with these Chinese. 

But I don’t think the gun came from Toys R Us

They were a far cry from the stereotype in the Thai media of spitting, urinating, queue jumping, oafish tourists. 

But then westerners particularly British tourists can tend to be a but oafish in the media too.

On the contrary their manners were impeccable. 

But there was nothing I could do.  I did pass on details to the British and US authorities. The Brits never replied but the US authorities did meet a couple of them. 

The problem is that Mandarin Chinese is not my forte. I did not have the cash to pay interpreters to translate the reams of documents I had given and even if I did there was no way I could assess their value.

Besides, as I cannot find anything in Toys R Us that is not made in China, I am not sure western powers are going to do a lot to upset the trade apple-cart.

And the only experience I had with Chinese prior to the recent visitors was with Chinese who were being trafficked to the west, who had agents and cash.  In their case the Thai Immigration jail in Suan Phlu appeared to have a revolving door.

A lot of the information coming to me concerned Chinese commercial and military spying activities. A lot has been written about this and the Chinese appear to be good at getting trade secrets in this sort of way, but I guess so are the Americans.  But everything here is a guess.

This man pictured above has either the handle ‘ Coldface Chow’ and is at the top of the China’s internet spy network, or he’s  the janitor of a local school.  If he’s the former then  I guess I can kiss this website goodbye.  I hope not. A lot paperwork came with his picture.

Thailand is of course going the Chinese way on the net.  In China there is no Twitter or Youtube and Google and Yahoo  have bent to the Chinese authorities.

Thailand meanwhile  is trying to get Google and Facebook to censor stuff which the military government does not like and of course is also pushing the single internet portal. 

Why all this talk about democracy, freedom of speech, and human rights indeed?

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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