China-Thailand relations

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?
A US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, a short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) version of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, flies past during a preview of the Singapore Airshow in Singapore on 13 February 2022. (Roslan Rahman/AFP)

Will America greenlight the sale of F-35s to Thailand?

The chief of Thailand’s air force wants to buy eight American-built F-35 fighter jets. While the sale would be a shot in the arm for the US-Thailand alliance, Washington may be reluctant to approve the sale because of Thailand’s growing military ties with China. ISEAS academic Ian Storey examines the factors at play.
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.
Boxes of Sinovac's Covid-19 coronavirus CoronaVac vaccine are pictured during a vaccination drive at Bang Sue Central Station in Bangkok on 24 May 2021. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)

Sinovac or not: Thai vaccine politics

The country’s political polarisation is hindering the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme. While China has been a keen provider of the Sinovac vaccine, currently the most widely deployed in Thailand, distrust of the Prayut government and party politics have fuelled vaccine hesitancy and the fear that this is yet another way for China to assert its influence on the country.
An aerial view of the Kra Isthmus, the narrowest point of the Malayan Peninsula where the Kra Canal would be built. (iStock)

India’s obsession with Thailand’s Kra Canal and China's 'failure'

News that Thailand has “cancelled” its Kra canal project and replaced it with a land bridge has excited Indian observers. But you cannot scrap a plan that has not been approved. India's media reports highlighting both Chinese aggression and Chinese failure say more about the country's tensions with China than its concern with the idea of a century-old canal in Thailand.
A stretch of the 400-kilometre long China-Laos railway in Vientiane, 29 July 2020. (Xinhua)

China's Belt and Road Initiative faces huge challenges in Southeast Asia

Beijing has pledged financing, materials, technology and manpower to build railroads, hydropower stations and other infrastructure projects in Southeast Asian countries under the BRI. But China continues to face enormous challenges getting projects off the ground in countries that need the investment most. US academic Murray Hiebert examines why.
Fighter jets from China's PLA Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force fly in tactical formation during exercise "Falcon Strike 2019" between the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force, August 2019. (Xie Zhongwu and Zhou Yongheng/Ministry of Defence China website)

Thai military deepens engagement with China amid pandemic

The Thai military has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to Chinese largesse, however, it will be able to secure the military kit it wants and continue its exercises with the People's Liberation Army.