The Chinese Embassy in Bangkok on Thursday issued a statement condemning “some Thai politicians” for associating with Hong Kong pro-democracy elements and warning them to be “cautious” going forward.
While the embassy’s statement didn’t name names, it did come days after Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of Thailand’s Future Forward Party, met prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong at a recent forum.
“Some Thai politicians have communicated with the groups that advocate for Hong Kong’s separation from China, and they have shown their favor toward it,” the statement said in Thai. “Such action is serious offence and irresponsible.”
“China hopes that these individuals involved are aware of the facts about Hong Kong’s problems,” it continues. “We hope they are cautious and exercise activities that are beneficial for the friendship between China and Thailand.”
The encounter between Thanathorn and Wong took place at the Open Future Festival Oct. 5 in Hong Kong, where Thanathorn was invited to speak. The event was organized by The Economist, and focused on Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-democracy protest movement.
Thanathorn is the only panelist from Thailand at the event, and Wong later posted a picture of himself with Thanathorn on social media.
“It is my honour to meet with @Thanathorn_FWP at the @TheEconomist @EconomistEvents Open Future Forum. Under the hard-line authoritarian suppression, we stand in solidarity,” Wong wrote in a tweet.
Speaking today at an event at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters, Thai army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong expressed disapproval of Wong and Hong Kong’s mostly youth-led protests. The event, titled “Our land through the lens of security,” was held in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district to emphasize the importance of the military and monarch in maintaining national security, and was attended by military officers, police, students, and even celebrities.
Apirat said the era of the National Council for Peace and Order, the military government which ruled the country after seizing power in a coup five years ago, ended with the general election in March.
The military’s role is now to maintain national security, sovereignty, and the country’s independence, he continued, crediting any unrest to purported rebel instigators and pointing to Hong Kong as an example. Though he did not specifically name Thanathorn, he too condemned “some politicians” for taking pictures with Wong.
“If someone uses social media and propaganda to manipulate the young, will the young come out like in Hong Kong?” Apirat asked, adding that Thai “young people” didn’t understand the chaos that had occurred in the nation “before they were born” — an apparent reference to the administration of ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra about 15 years ago.
He then played a slideshow filled with graphic photos of police being brutally attacked and killed during Thaksin’s time in office to the backdrop of emotional acoustic music.
The situation got better after former junta leader and current PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha came into power, Apirat pointedly noted.
“Unless you’re willing to pick up a weapon and defend your country, I suggest you stop criticizing those who do,” he said.