Thailand: Increasing Interest in Learning Chinese

Thai people get more and more interested in learning the Chinese language in preparations for stronger Sino-Thai business link and greater prospects in China's emerging market, the Bangkok Post reported Wednesday.

There are increasing number of private and public institutes which offer Chinese courses for opportunity seekers in Thailand, and even the local-famous Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS) which traditionally runs Chinese lessons only to academics, can not resist the trend.

"China will have an increasingly important role in the 21st century," said Ruengsak Yeuayai, who oversees a new IEAS Chinese-teaching program, which targets various groups of people from students to businessmen.

Chatmanee Popaingan, a participant of the program, said the Chinese course would help her in business dealings with China, which supplies raw materials for her factory.

"Chinese is already an international language," she said.

Atirat Chumwangwapee, a graduate in food science, was confident about the long-term benefits of know-how in the Chinese language.

"China is growing and this will bring opportunities in my career," he said.

Most learners of the course believed that China would become a political and economic powerhouse and take the leadership role in Asia.

Local analysts said trade relations between China and Thailand are likely to grow once China joins the World Trade Organization and commercial navigation opens up on the Mekong River.

Trade volume between the two countries has steadily risen from 30 million U.S. dollars in 1975 to 5.6 billion dollars last year.

Thus, analysts said keeping good ties with China is very important to Thailand. "This is not a new policy but a continuation of the policy that has been a mainstay in Thailand for a long time," said an analyst.

(People's Daily 05/09/2001)

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