U.S. Tries to Balance Democracy, Defense in Thai Relations

  • Cobra Gold military exercise starts with reduced U.S. presence
  • Wavering U.S. support comes as China increases influence

Thai soldiers hold the flags of participating countries during the opening ceremony of the annual Cobra Gold 2016 military exercises.

Photographer: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images

One of Asia’s largest war games kicks off in Thailand on Tuesday with scaled back U.S. involvement, highlighting tensions between the longtime allies over Thailand’s lack of democracy at a time of growing Chinese influence in Southeast Asia.

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