New Chinese Migrants in Thailand

IPSR In-House Seminar and SEA Junction would like to invite you to Wednesday SEA Mobilities event on 27 April 2022 at 10.30-11.30 am. New Chinese Migrants in Thailand

By Aranya Siriphon


Xin yimin, literally mean ‘new migrant’, refers to the new wave of skilled and urban migrants from China to Thailand after 2000s onward. Differentiated from new Chinese migrants who migrated to Southeast Asia and particularly to Thailand during 1990s-2000s, Chinese emigration emerged today is much more a form of class consumption, a strategic class reproduction that transforms economic capital into social status and prestige, rather than the previous migration for economic production. The dynamic rise of China and the rapid economic growth associated with Chinese state influences, global flows of digital technology and transportation, and neoliberal contexts have fortunately supported the emerging migration trend. The new migrants’ aspiration and desire, seen as part of driving force, are involved in aiming to improve a better quality of life through outmigration for education, business, marriage, residential tourism and lifestyle. Since the 2000s, many have been moving into Southeast Asia. In Thailand, their number has doubled in the last two decades. The new Chinese migration to Thailand today is of a more transient nature, a circulatory transnational migration seen as an unfinished set of fluid movements engaging in between the homeland and various host countries. Under the characteristic of migration trend, these new Chinese migrants to Thailand can be classified into four groups: The first consists of people who migrate for business and economic activities; China is the third largest investor in Thailand, mainly in the manufacturing sector, with Bangkok as the favored location. It also includes members of the staff working for official or private institutes, voluntary teachers, and professional freelancers. The second consists of individuals who migrate for education purposes, at all levels. Tertiary level students usually enroll in private institutions, mainly in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The third consists of people migrating for a lifestyle change. Tourists fall under this category since some tend to eventually migrate to Thailand after being enamored by its lifestyle and culture. The fourth refers to migrants of the above categories who move on to engage in ecommerce businesses, selling Thai products and international brands to Chinese customers.


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