China, Vietnam back new Thai military government after West's disavowal

Army supporters stage protest over Australia's downgrading of ties following coup

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 10:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 3:59am

China and Vietnam have expressed support for Thailand's new military government, an army spokesman said, after several foreign governments voiced disapproval of the coup.

Army supporters held a small gathering yesterday at the Australian embassy in protest against the downgrading of relations after last month's coup, which saw General Prayuth Chan-ocha take power after months of political unrest that undermined the government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

"China's and Vietnam's ambassadors to Thailand met Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimaprakorn yesterday and assured us that they still have a good relationship with Thailand and that they hope the situation will return to normal quickly," said Yongyuth Mayalarp, a spokesman for the military's National Council for Peace and Order.

Myanmar's foreign affairs ministry said it recognised Thailand's new military rulers.

"Thailand is a sovereign state and the military government has been endorsed by their king," Aung Linn, a director general at Myanmar's foreign affairs ministry, said yesterday.

"Of course we do recognise them."

China's foreign ministry had no immediate response to the report.

The United States scrapped joint military programmes with Thailand days after the May 22 coup, while the European Union has urged the military to free political detainees and end censorship.

Australia downgraded its ties with Thailand on Saturday, imposed a travel ban on junta leaders and cut defence cooperation, the toughest measures taken by a foreign government since the change of regime.

A handful of pro-military demonstrators gathered outside the Australian embassy yesterday to protest against what they see as foreign meddling in Thailand's internal affairs. Some handed roses to police at the embassy.

The army is determined to silence dissent and has summoned around 300 activists, journalists, academics and politicians since taking power two weeks ago.

Many have been detained for varying periods of time and, in order to be released, have had to sign statements that they will step away from politics and halt anti-coup activities.

The military government has deployed thousands of police and troops across the country to search for weapons in a bid to crack down on armed groups on both sides of the political divide.