With the second-largest economy in ASEAN, Thailand is one of the most dynamic countries in Southeast Asia. But over the past decade, despite reaching upper middle-income status, Thailand has faced slowing economic growth, declining foreign investment, and political instability. With growing concerns about trade, education, inequality, and the environment, the Royal Thai Government is moving forward on several major reform initiatives, government programs, and new investments. Thailand is also in the midst of a major political transition, with elections scheduled in early 2019. Meanwhile, the conflict in the southernmost provinces continues, with prospects for a peaceful settlement elusive.
With support from Google, Facebook, Coca-Cola, and the Chevron Corporation, the Foundation organized a track 1.5 dialogue between Thai and U.S. leaders in Washington, DC. Led by former Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador Stapleton Roy, each delegation included more than a dozen prominent leaders from the political, business, diplomatic, and security sectors. Following the meeting, we published an analysis and key outcomes from the dialogue.
While the official U.S.-Thai relationship has improved over the past year, we believe dialogues like this will be crucial to deepening cooperation and mutual understanding in the years ahead.
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TechCamp promotes peace and dialogue
Like the rest of the world, Southeast Asia has seen the dark side of social media, and in May 2017 our Thailand office, with funds from the U.S. State Department, organized TechCamp Thailand: Promoting Peace and Dialogue with Technology. We convened technology experts and 60 young social activists from Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia to explore technology-enabled strategies to promote tolerance and reduce online disinformation and hate speech. Small follow-on grants allow participants to take their ideas from concept to implementation. The program is already generating spin-offs in Thailand’s conflict-affected southern provinces, including a Mini-TechCamp in Pattani.
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