November promises to be a busy month, with the US presidential election followed closely by a leadership transition in China, and important regional events taking place in Thailand and neighbouring countries.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is scheduled to arrive in Bangkok tomorrow from Myanmar. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Government House before appearing at a joint news conference with her, said a representative of the European Union’s delegation in Bangkok.
Barroso, who has recently called for full European integration through banking, fiscal and political union, will then fly to Vientiane to take part in the Asia Europe Summit on Monday and Tuesday.
Laos will for the first time play host to global leaders on a grand scale. The country was recently admitted to the World Trade Organisation and is determined to demonstrate to the world that it is ready to participate fully as a member of the international community.
Yingluck will also attend the Asia Europe Summit, which will discuss further cooperation between the two continents despite the ongoing euro-zone debt crisis.
According to a statement from the Thai Foreign Ministry, Yingluck is scheduled to meet with the leaders of Norway, Poland, Japan, Italy, Estonia, Bulgaria, Mongolia and Laos on the sidelines of the summit.
On Tuesday, Americans go to the polls to pick their president. According to Citi Research, President Barack Obama of the Democratic Party is leading his Republican Party challenger Mitt Romney in projected Electoral College votes. Obama now has a projected 281 votes against Romney’s 257. Winning the presidency requires 270 Electoral College votes. However, Citi Research said Romney cannot be completely counted out yet.
Fifth generation of leaders
On Thursday, the Chinese Communist Party Congress will meet to pick the fifth generation of Chinese leaders. Xi Jinping is likely to be picked as president and secretary-general of the Communist Party. The back-to-back presidential contests in the US and China will be closely watched as the two countries increasingly compete for global influence.
On the same day, Yingluck will take part in the Bali Democracy Forum, where she will have a chance to meet with several leaders including those from the Maldives, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Qatar and Turkey.
Between November 12 and 14, Yingluck will pay an official visit to the UK.
The Thai Defence Ministry has confirmed that US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta will make an official visit to the Kingdom in the middle of the month. Panetta has told Thai military officials that Thailand could expect more visits from US military personnel going forward as the US shifts the focus of its security policy to the Asia-Pacific. Panetta will also attend a meeting of regional defence ministers in Phnom Penh.
On November 18-20, Phnom Penh will play host to the Asean Summit, followed by the East Asia Summit. Asean failed to produce a joint communique at its last ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh due to differences over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The Asean Summit will try to bring the grouping to a more unified stance as it looks forward to the launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, will pay an official visit to Thailand on November 20 and 21 to enhance bilateral relations.
The Foreign Ministry’s website has not confirmed whether President Obama will also visit Thailand en route to the East Asia Summit.