Life and career
Thanat comes from a Thai-Chinese family. He earned a bachelors degree at Assumption University in Bangkok in 1940, then went on to study for a Masters degree in Law in the University of Bordeaux, and also completed a doctorate at the University of Paris, France. Initially, he was stationed during World War II in Tokyo, then the organized resistance against the Japanese occupation joined after his return to Thailand. In this regard, he was a member of a secret delegation in February 1945 to Ceylon, where the headquarters of the Allied South East Asia Command was stationed.
After the Second World War, he held a number of diplomatic posts, and was promoted in 1957 as ambassador to the United States. On 10 February 1959 he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand in the government of Prime Minister Sarit Dhanarajata.
In the 1960s, Thanat played a key role in mediating between Indonesia and Malaysia. The choice of Bangkok as the founding place of ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) in August 1967 was an expression of respect for his active role in the formation of this institution. On 17 November 1971 he resigned his post after a coup d'état.
After his resignation as foreign minister Thanat entered state politics in 1979 and was chairman of the Democratic Party (until 1982). Between 1980 and 1982 he was also Deputy Prime Minister. In 1982, he retired from political life.