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The Connection Between Thai Economy and Incoming of Chinese

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The connection between Thai economy and incoming of Chinese The history of Chinese immigration to Thailand dates back many centuries to Ayutthaya era. The corruption of the Qing dynasty and the massive population increase in China, along with very high taxes, caused many men to leave China for Thailand in search of work. If they became successful in settling and working in Thailand, they would send money back to their families in China. According to Wang Gungwu, Chinese migration separates into four types. First, Traders, This group comes from Chinese commercial and professional classes who went overseas for business or work including skilled tradesmen and artisans who usually owned their own business or worked for domestic Chinese businessmen. Second, Coolies, These were usually untrained, landless laborers from the peasant classes. Third, Sojourners, who are from more educated and cultured class of Chinese. They left China to express the Chinese cultures and the way of life. Sojourners was the main force that raise the overseas Chinese communities, establish schools to educate Chinese children in their language and customs, and encourage overseas Chinese to remain faithful to their culture and country and especially to the government in mainland China. And the forth, Descendants, This group of people is considered as ethnic Chinese, not overseas Chinese. Most of the Chinese who migrated to Thailand before 1932 were from the peasant, artisans, and tradesman classes. They arrived in Thailand and worked as peddlers and merchants. There are numbers of factors that explain why Chinese chose to migrate to Thailand. First, the Thai rulers allowed overseas Chinese to settle in Thailand. And second, Thai rulers did not consider the Chinese as foreigners but rather as their citizens assumingly because the Chinese have lived in the Thai Kingdom since it was first established in the 13th century and were also Buddhist. The significant migration took place over the period of 130 years, from 1807 – 1937. During this course the Thai government established an official policy to encourage Chinese immigration because Chinese migrants were the source of a steady flow of tax revenues from the trading that they did with Thailand. Many Chinese came to Thailand to work as laborers. Chinese had reputation in working hard and were more patient than the Thais. Moreover, Chinese was able to do the jobs that Thais consider those as uncivilized such as trading. The well-educated Chinese expanded their businesses into the sugar trade, salt farms and tin mines. The Chinese population in Thailand jumped from 230,000 in 1825 to 792,000 by 1910. By 1932, approximately 12.2% of the population of Thailand was Chinese. And the wave of Chinese migration began again in 1938, when the communist takeover forced a massive emigration of Chinese into Thailand. The Chinese started to play a major role in the Thai economy during the reign of King Rama III (1824 – 1851), during that period many Chinese migrated to Thailand because of famine and political uncertainty in China. Thai government will grant citizenship to the Chinese, if they agree to cut off their pigtails and register as Thai citizens by having a tattoo placed on their ankles or wrists. Nevertheless, the Chinese could avoid the caste system and the obligatory three to four months of yearly government service without paying by maintaining their Chinese citizenship in Thailand. Consequently, the Chinese were given a great opportunity to monopolize certain key sectors of the economy such as tax-collection, as well as the rice and fishing businesses. Sampheng was the only densely populated Chinese community in Bangkok, lined solely by shops and Chinese-owned houses. It was the biggest trade district where Chinese goods were distributed and where Thailand’s exports awaiting shipment were collected. It was also a popular retail market for Bangkok customers. Afterwards, King Rama V approved to build the new road so called Yaowarat road in order to solve the problem of poor surroundings in Sampheng. It was constructed by the modern shop-houses along the road for rent to Chinese traders. Thus, It opened up the opportunity for a great numbers of Chinese to start businesses. This district made very high profit for Thai government by collecting tax from trading. Fortunately, nowadays Yaowarat is resembled as Bangkok’s China town. In conclusion, the Thai royal families always considered the Chinese as their own citizens due to the close relation between the royal families and the Chinese. Moreover, the overseas Chinese also provided many benefits to Thai economy. The overseas Chinese also filled in the job positions that Thais would not do. The history of the connection between Thailand and the Chinese can indicate how Thai economy depended on the Chinese. Even though China becomes the largest economy now but Thailand’s economy still depends on China as it has been for a long time.

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