When is a Chinese not a Chinese? When he’s a Thai. In some countries of southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, the Chinese are a race apart, but in Thailand this is no longer the case. There has been a great deal of intermarriage, and most Chinese have adopted Thai names and ways.
This is perhaps not so surprising. Many of them were born here, have Thai nationality, and regard Thailand as their home. Some are perhaps less well integrated than others, and there are Thais who envy them their wealth and domination of the business sector, but on the whole there is little, if any, racial tension อนิเมะพากย์ไทย.
You sometimes gather the impression that the Chinese are striving to be more Thai than the Thais themselves. Certainly Chinese visitors from Hong Kong or Beijing might regard them as different, despite the fact that like Chinese everywhere, they are proud of their roots and place a high premium on entrepreneurship, hard work, education, and training.
In matters of commerce they are preeminent. It is estimated that just thirty Chinese families have interests in over eight hundred Thai companies. For this reason it pays to be cautious in your business dealings. Playing off one company against another could be risky when there is a strong likelihood that the other firm is owned by a close relation of the person you are negotiating with.
The Chinese have a keen sense of fun and their gambling instinct means they are willing to take risks. There is no doubt that their commercial dynamism is a contributory factor to Thailand’s remarkable economic progress. In the past Thai monarchs relied on them to provide the country’s commercial infrastructure, while the Thais themselves preferred to work on the land or in government.
Thai society is now in a state of flux. The ethnic Thais no longer shun commerce, and you will now find Chinese active in politics and government. Some Thai companies and organizations are starting to develop a culture of their own that may differ in some respects from the norms described below, and visitors will need to watch out for such differences.
By no means are all the long-established companies in Thailand Chinese. There is one interesting historical reminder. If you go along Siphya Road in Bangkok you will come across the firm of Louis T. Leonowens Ltd., the name of which has a familiar ring. It was founded by Louis, the son of Anna Leonowens, who came to Siam in 1862 at the invitation of King Mongkut to teach the royal children. Louis attended his mother’s lessons at the palace, where one of his fellow pupils was a prince who would later become the much-revered King Chulalongkorn. After completing his education in England, Louis returned to Siam and became a captain in the King’s army. This led to a border surveying and protection assignment in the timber areas of the north where he was to make his fortune as a pioneer in the Siamese teak industry.