Aranya Siriphon

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University

Dr Aranya Siriphon is an assistant professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Chiang Mai University, Northern Thailand. Her research interest includes border and transborder studies, ethnicity, and Chinese migration in Mainland Southeast Asia. She obtained her MA (2002) and PhD (2008) degrees from Chiang Mai University.

Wichayanon Road in Chinatown, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2018. (Wikimedia)

New Chinese migrants forming parallel communities in Chiang Mai

While descendants of older Chinese migrants in Thailand consider themselves Thai, hold Thai citizenship, and speak the language, new Chinese migrants tend to struggle when interacting with the locals due to the language barrier and negative stereotypes about foreign Chinese held by the locals. Their inability to integrate has led to the growth of parallel communities, where new Chinese migrants seek each other out for their social needs, instead of mingling with Thais. How can new Chinese migrants integrate better with the locals?
Students and staff at Huachiew Chalermprakiet University (HCU) making Chinese New Year decorations, 10 February 2022. (HCU/Facebook)

Rising Chinese student enrolment in Thailand: Cash cows at a cost

Thailand is reaping the benefits of a steady stream of Chinese students choosing Thailand as its destination of choice for university studies, particularly at its private universities. The trend, however, is not cost-free. There are a host of problems it has to grapple with, including possibly compromised academic standards as well as suspicions of Chinese students flouting their visa conditions by engaging in full-time business activities.
A woman carries a stack of bowls during the annual Vegetarian Festival in the Chinatown area of Bangkok on 7 October 2021. (Jack Taylor/AFP)

The nature of recent Chinese migration to Thailand

New migrants from China refer to the wave of skilled and urban migrants from China who ventured to Asia and elsewhere after the reform era began in the 1980s. Since the 2000s, many have been moving into Southeast Asia. In Thailand, their number has doubled in the last two decades. These migrants are there for business, study and leisure or a combination of these pursuits. In the process, new communities such as Huai Khwang, the "new Chinatown" in Bangkok, have emerged.
A man enters a taxi in the Chinatown district of Bangkok on 9 November 2021. (Jack Taylor/AFP)

Chinese investments are increasing across sectors and regions in Thailand

Even as other countries are pulling out of Thailand due to the pandemic, China has been accelerating its foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country. This strong FDI momentum is prompted by China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as investors' interest in various industries across Thailand. Thai officials are hopeful that this trend will continue. Academics Aranya Siriphon and Fanzura Banu look at the numbers and offer suggestions for attracting even greater Chinese investment interest.