Summary: On October 3rd, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who seized control of the Thai government in 2014 as head of a military junta, visited the White House and met with President Trump. The two leaders discussed many topics, and issued a joint statement indicating their support for peace and stability in in the South China Sea, and called for freedom of navigation in keeping with UNCLOS. They also called for cooperative efforts in the issue, and on the recent issues with North Korea, indicated concern and called for denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.

Analysis: Despite the displeased reaction of the US government over Chan-O-Cha’s rise to power at the time, and the number of incidents that have occurred in Thailand as a result, President Trump seems to believe that maintaining Thailand in the American camp is worth any criticism his open support for that regime may bring. China and the US have both been trying to recruit allies for their respective positions on the SCS dispute, so this is perhaps unsurprising, especially with Trump’s recent reaffirmation of an ‘America First’ foreign policy at the UN. Whether this policy will make a difference in the dispute, or significantly impact the reputation of the US remains to be seen.