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Posts Tagged ‘Siam’

28th April 2009

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand have one of the longest diplomatic relationships in Asia. The two countries have been allies for many years and have a mutually beneficial trade relationship. This post provides a brief overview of American-Thai relations since formal diplomatic relations began in the early 19th century.

On March 20, 1833 the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand concluded the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. The Administration of President Andrew Jackson sent Edmund Roberts as plenipotentiary in order to refine and ultimately sign the Treaty. King Rama III, through his Ministers and Emissaries, entered into the Treaty that would be the touchstone for all future diplomatic relations between the two nations.

This Treaty placed the USA on the same level as many other “Great Power’ countries with diplomatic ties to Thailand (the Siam). This Treaty is also noteworthy because it marks the first Treaty between the USA and an Asian nation. Before the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, the United States had yet to conclude any diplomatic treaties with any other nation in Asia.

In 1856 King Rama IV and Townsend Harris, and emissary of the Franklin Pierce Administration, concluded the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation. This document gave US Citizens extraterritorial rights in the Kingdom and established the first consulate in Bangkok, with one Stephen Matoon as the US’s first resident consul in the Kingdom.

Rama VI and representative of the Wilson administration signed a new Treaty in 1920. This Treaty (which could be viewed as something of a revision of the preceding treaty) was a significantly more equitable document than those before it.

In 1937, following political turbulence in Thailand directly resulting from the revolution and adoption of the first Thai constitution, the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation was legalized.  The following decade Thailand would be pressured by the Japanese to declare war upon the USA. In a somewhat interesting series of events, the Thai Ambassador either refused to deliver the declaration or the US Secretary of State refused to accept it (the details of this exchange are unclear, but it would seem neither wished to acknowledge the declaration).

After the second world war, relations between the two nations regularized and thrived. In May of 1966 the US-Thai Treaty of Amity was signed in as the law of the land in both nations. This Treaty acts as the basis for reciprocal agreements in which Thai National’s can receive a US visa and American Citizens can obtain a Thai visa. This Treaty is currently in force at the time of this writing and acts as the framework for all trade and business relations between the two nations. Thailand and the USA also have close military and political ties as evidenced by joint military operations in the Kingdom known as Cobra Gold.

Currently, both governments claim to be in continuing negotiation regarding trade going forward. Under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, trade negotiations were held in order to update legal relations, but the talks fell apart over issues involving Intellectual Property concerns. There are some questions regarding rights conferred under the US-Thai Treaty of Amity going forward.

As of April 29th 2009 – Americans are currently accorded preferential treatment compared to other nationalities under the US-Thai Treaty of Amity

Thanks for reading!

(Note: Nothing contained in this post should be construed as legal advice nor as an agreement creating an attorney-client relationship. One should always obtain legal advice from a duly licensed Attorney)

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25th April 2009

Istanbul (Not Constantinople).

After the christening of a “New Rome” in Eastern Europe, Constantine founded Constantinople as both the administrative and political capital of the Roman Empire (thus, moving the capital from Rome and beginning what most scholars refer to as the Byzantine Empire).

In the 1400s, after years of internal turmoil and foreign encroachment, Constantinople fell and was captured by the Ottoman Turks. The fall of Constantinople is seen as the end of the Byzantine Empire and after its capture the use of the name Constantinople fell into decline, although not outright disuse as is mistakenly believed by some. Both the names Istanbul and Constantinople were used somewhat interchangeably until the turn of the twentieth century.

Subsequent to the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the alternate labels for the city, other than Istanbul, became outmoded. With the promulgation of the Turkish Postal Service Law in 1930, the government of Turkey officially requested foreign correspondents to stop referring to Istanbul with any customary non-Turkish appellations. The refusal of the Turkish government to deliver parcels addressed “Constantinople,” led to a worldwide adoption and use of the name Istanbul.

New York and New Amsterdam

New York was originally founded by Dutch Settlers who gave the major city on Manhattan Island the name New Amsterdam. As the British and Dutch vied for control of the new colony the city’s name was changed. At one point New Amsterdam was rechristened New Orange, but finally, upon a finalized Treaty between the Netherlands and England, the City’s name was fixed as New York which is the way it is identified around the world to this day.

Siam and Thailand

The country today known as Thailand once had the official name of  Siam. In 1939 it was decided that the name should be changed and the current label was promulgated, then it was officially renamed Siam again between the years 1945 and 1949 (the Japanese Occupation of Thailand) after which time the name Thailand was readopted. Many people believe that the word Thai stems from the word “Tai”  which means “free” or “freedom” in the Thai language. This belief is a misconception as Thai actually refers to an ethnic group from the central lowlands of South Eastern Asia. A noted Thai academic is a proponent of the theory that the etymology of the word “Tai” has a meaning more closely translated as “people” or “humanity” because studies of the language has determined that in some non-urban locales the term “Tai” was utilized as a substitute for the conventional Thai word “khon,” meaning people.  That being said, Thais have accepted the apocryphal meaning and will generally explain that Thailand means: Land of the free.

As a side note, Bangkok is not the proper name of the city in Thai. Bangkok’s real name in is:

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

Which translates in English script to:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

and when translated means (loosely):

The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.

If Cities won awards based upon the length of their name, Bangkok would probably be the perennial winner.

Thanks for reading please look through our blog to read about US Immigration and Thai Legal Matters. Or Check out our home page at Bangkok Law Firm

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