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?
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.
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.
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.