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Chinese People In Thailand

The Chinese Community In Thailand

  • The Tai tribes, the Yunnanese Haw and all the ‘’ Hill tribes ‘’ detailed in the North Thailand People section (except for the Austroasians) came from China. Here the term Chinese refers to the Han Chinese communities who migrated to Thailand. Today 12 % of the Thai people are Chinese or have some Chinese ancestors. The community is estimated to have been 230,000 in 1825 and 792,000 by 1910. By 1932,12.2% of the population of Siam was Chinese.
  • Most Chinese came from the rural south of China, and on arrival centered around Bangkok in the marked orientated sector of the Siam economy. Later the Government employed Chinese for rail and canal construction projects rather than continue with the traditional Asian practice of forced and unpaid corvee labor. The site of the Grand Place and Wat Phrao Kaeo was originally that of the 17th century Chinese settlement in Bangkok.
  • Until the 20th century most Chinese migrants from China were men who took Thai wives so soon the Chinese character was merged with Thai. General Taksin who became King in 1778 was half Chinese. The Sino-Siamese children assimilated and were successful so by the end of the 19th century they were well represented in the Government bureaucracy.

The 20th Century Migration

  • The Chinese became city dwellers (mainly in Bangkok) and were in close collaboration with international business so that now they dominate the modern thai economy. In the beginning of the 20th century more Chinese women arrived from China to marry with Chinese men and have Chinese children, so throughout the 20th C and today the Chinese tradition continues distinctly in its own right, whilst others with Chinese ancestors, have mixed traditions. A visit to Chinatown in Bangkok and the Chinese temples highlights the different cultures and beliefs.
  • In the early 20th-C the issue of minorities' nationalism was foremost, causing one Prime Minister to remark, ‘’Can something be done to make the Chinese become Siamese as in the old days? ‘’. In order to appreciate this past a tour of Chinatown in Bangkok is recommended. Also one should be aware of the extensive array of Chinese art in Temples and other buildings and the respect for Chinese Gods, as with the Chinese Goddess, Guan Im, shown above and who can be visited in the grounds of Wat Phrao Kaeo.

Chinese Temple Roof, Chinatown Bangkok