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Tea Leaves

The selling of 'Thailand 4.0'

Bangkok's generals hope next coup will be economic

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 25.   © Reuters

The sun was setting over the Gulf of Thailand one balmy evening when three buses filled with 70 foreigners pulled up outside a hotel in the glitzy beachside resort of Pattaya, 100 km southeast of Bangkok.

In a country that for decades has brilliantly marketed itself as one of the world's great tourism destinations and last year brought in 35 million visitors, the convoy and its multinational contingent hardly looked out of place. The visitors, though, were not tourists but members of the media from Asia and beyond, flown in at government expense to report on the Land of Smiles' ambitious efforts to rebrand itself as "Thailand 4.0" -- the self-proclaimed hub of Southeast Asia's fourth industrial revolution.

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