Skip to main content

Ahead of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, which is currently taking place at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok, Thai activists staged protests against the One China policy and the summit itself.

A protester in a jiangshi costume held up a sign saying “welcome dictators to Thailand.”

On Tuesday (15 November), activists were seen walking around the Yaowarat area of China Town dressed as characters from the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West, such as the monk Tang Sanzang and the monkey king Sun Wukong. Several others were dressed as a jiangshi, a type of reanimated corpse in Chinese folklore. They held signs protesting the One China policy and showing support for Hong Kong independence. A protester in a jiangshi costume held up a sign saying “welcome dictators to Thailand.”

They boarded an MRT underground train from Wat Mangkon station to the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre station, the closest station to the venue of the meeting, but found that the station had been closed in preparation for the meeting, so the group returned to Hua Lamphong station. They were followed throughout by plainclothes police officers, who took pictures of the protest.

Activist Tantawan Tuatulanon said that the group staged the protest because the APEC meeting favours large corporations over the rest of the country, and even though farmers are protesting in front of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, no one has been listening to their demands.

Tantawan held up a sign protesting the One China Policy while police officers tried to seize the banner from her and another activist. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

On Wednesday (16 November), Tantawan and another activist dressed like Winnie the Pooh walked through the Central World shopping mall holding a banner protesting the One China Policy. They left the shopping mall and walked towards the nearby Siam Kempinski Hotel, which Tantawan claimed is where a representative of Hong Kong to the APEC meetings is staying.

However, they were stopped by police officers who ran after them and tried to seize their banner. The officers told them that because they are within 150 metres of a royal residence, they are not allowed to protest and must put their banner away. The two activists negotiated with the police, telling them that they would like their banner back and would leave the area. However, as they were walking towards a parking lot opposite the hotel, they were stopped by police officers who took their banner, telling them that they are not allowed to cause disorder and that Tantawan is violating her bail condition, which could result in her bail being revoked.

After negotiating with the police, the two activists were allowed to leave via Central World’s parking lot. A group of uniformed police officers followed them and blocked the route towards the Siam Kempinski Hotel, while a plainclothes officer held onto their banner and followed them. The banner was returned after the activists met up with their friends and left the area.

It was reported in 2017 that mentions of Winnie the Pooh were banned on Chinese social media sites such as Weibo, while Winnie the Pooh stickers were removed from WeChat, a messaging application popular in China. There has been speculation that the ban was because it was claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping resembled the character.

Xi is among several world leaders invited to attend the APEC summit as “special guests” of the Thai government.

Prachatai English's Logo

Prachatai English is an independent, non-profit news outlet committed to covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite pressure from the authorities. Your support will ensure that we stay a professional media source and be able to meet the challenges and deliver in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”