Xinyimin, New Chinese Migrants, and the Influence of the PRC and Taiwan on the Northern Thai Border



Mae Sai is a major northern Thailand-Myanmar border town opposite from Myanmar’s1 Tachileik, which is linked to southern China via Myanmar’s R3B route. Throughout history, this border town has been a diverse cultural landscape with a multiplicity of ethnic people pursuing translocal trade for their livelihoods. These various peoples, which include Tai Yuan (the native Tai in this area), Tai Lue, and subethnic Tai from Shan state and Yunnan, and Yunnanese Chinese,2 have all been very mobile in northern mainland Southeast Asia. Horses and mules were used for short- and long-distance caravan trading along overland routes through mountainous areas3 prior to the emergence of modern transportation and sovereign nation-states in Southeast Asia and China. Mae Sai has also been affected by the migratory history of the Han Yunnanese in the border area, particularly the movements of Chinese Nationalist Army troops (or Kuomintang, KMT) into Myanmar and northern Thailand after the Chinese Communists took power in China in the 1950s. Han Yunnanese people settled in northern Thailand, including the town of Mae Sai and nearby mountainous areas. People from southwestern China, Yunnan and Shan and Kachin states have come for economic pursuits in ordinary times and for political refuge in times of unrest. Some of them have crossed back and forth from Shan and Kachin states in Myanmar or from Yunnan province.


Border Area Chinese Immigrant Asian Development Bank Chinese School Chinese Migrant 
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© Yos Santasombat 2015

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