The Future of Asia
China the Super Power
“Asia is the future”
Big things are happening in ASEAN!
Last Saturday, Prof. Dr. Anek Laothamatas,Rector College of Government had given an informative speech to a group of counselling teachers coming from all over Thailand.
Right now, China is implementing a high-speed train called the OBOR (One Belt One Road), which will connect two worlds together from Beijing to London.
Foreign policy of China is implementing the “ One Belt One Road, 1 region 1 route”, meaning the new Silk Road that will take place on land and sea and will connect Europe and Asia trade routs together. This is considered a very ambitious global strategic plan from China. These trade routs on land will be using high-speed trains that start from Beijing and passes through Middle East, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and onward to England and Spain. The trade routes by sea will connect South China Ocean to the Indian Ocean, which will have to pass through the Southern part of Thailand.
As China is a big player in this project, the United States is adjusting its foreign policy to focus more on Asia. Over the past 25 years, the United States have been focusing more on such issues like the Middle East War, the fall of Berlin Wall, September 11 incident, Iraq, Afghanistan, ISIS and war in Syria. Currently, the United States is turning to Asia particularly Eastern Asia and ASEAN. Since the U.S. has left Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War, they have returned to balance the power over China. China has had significantly grown massively over the last two decades and now is on the same scale as the United States in the economic sector.
Right now, China is in the middle of land claim disputes in the South China Sea with many countries such as Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei. China is still trying to lobby ASEAN especially Cambodia and Laos to remain neutral. The hot topic dispute of the South China Sea has not influence Thailand, as they still remain neutral. USA at the same time is using Vietnam and Philippines to counter balance with China.
Thailand is in the middle…
There is a point of consideration here when USA had its war with the Soviet Union. That was direct military confrontation with absolute no relations as it continued into cold war era. However, with China it is quite different. The economic relations between the two competitively, both are trying to spread influence over Asia. This leaves Thailand right in the middle of everything. You have China fighting for the South China Sea and trying to involve the ASEAN countries to be on their side.
"Easternisation" - What does this all mean?
“Easternisation” means Asia is becoming very powerful in the economic sector of the world. China and India are becoming very rich. India is close to Thailand by sea where China has trade routes to Thailand by land from the North. Therefore, Thailand is a golden landmark opportunity for both countries to take advantage. Thailand is the country stable enough to be that central hub that links China and India together.
China has around 10 millions tourist every year. Anywhere you go in the world, there will be Chinese tourists and they are big spenders.
Chinese people love cosmetics products from Korea and Thailand. There are around 700 million females in China that are possible markets for cosmetics that is enormous scale of economic boom for the cosmetic industry in both countries.
China has growth in many areas, but with many limitations as well. One is which the ‘one-child’ policy. China will become an ageing society real soon and will have a short of young laborers. This may slow the economic growth down significantly immediately. On the other hand, India has no policy to control population and therefore, the economy will grow faster and have no sign of slowing down economically.
Most people don’t know that Thailand is very rich in natural resources. For years, Thailand has been known for rice or rubber plantation. National Geographic has claimed that the forests in Thailand are classified as respectable and on the same level as the Amazon forest in Brazil. These forests consist of 4 bio-conservation areas that have animals such as Huay Kha Kheang, Naresuan plain or the forest in Ranong province that has abundant wildlife where they roam freely from Myanmar and India. The Khao Yai range will also receive animals from Cambodia. These forests can be developed as an eco-tourism for high-end markets. This can be a big market, which in turn can bring big revenue back into developing these forests to become one of the elite forests in the world.
Study in Thailand
The future of education in Thailand
One of the main topics Thailand government is pushing is to educate students to have an understanding about the ASEAN. Thailand is really pushing hard for students in the North to understand Chinese and Myanmar, both in reading and writing, students in the North Eastern should be able to read and write Loas or Vietnamese, the Southern Isan students should learn how to speak Cambodian and the Southern students should be able to conversation in Malayu language.
We have to prepare our students to be able to work in Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China. English is an extremely important as it is a global and computer languages. It is also extremely important to understand regional languages, as there are many neighboring countries around Thailand. Currently, the economic boom is no longer happening in Europe or USA. The boom has shifted for the west and now coming for the Southeast. During the Vietnam War and the colonization period, Thailand was at the forefront that encountered the war impacts. Now we are at the forefront again but not for war, but on the forefront of the economic boom that is happening for the ASEAN.
Thailand has many super cities recognized internationally (No.1 Bangkok, No.9 Phuket, No. 13 Chiang Mai and No. 26 Pattaya). Many of these cities have problems with pollution and flooding. This is a big concern as they are continuing to grow substantially.
For the educational aspect, Thailand has to support the tourism and service industries. The Thailand people have to realize that they have to get better and understand what hard education actually means. Hard education is preparing students for the engineering, aviation, and doctoral and especially the business thinking jobs. As Thailand is week in these areas they are extremely dedicated in the soft education, which include hospitality and service industry, music and entertainment etc. We have to create “Lunla economy” (happy economy) with relaxed, fun, non-depressive characteristic of products and services. Thailand has to turn this concept into a moneymaking business. Thailand has to manage education and steer it towards happiness. Thai students are outstanding in creativity, even though they focus on teaching academic subjects. Should we inject something that is not right to our students or not? “It’s like a fish in water, a fish needs water to breath or it will die. International programs in Thailand need to realize this shift in change and adapt to what is happening around them in the ASEAN.
The world is moving into “Experience Economy”. Consumers are not buying only the products but mainly the experience. Dancing and signing may be deemed as an inferior career, but these are the profession that will turn in to money. We have to see opportunities and keep on expanding them so we can better our world and ourselves. If an opportunity is found, there has to be further growth or we will be left behind in this economic boom.
Before you can see opportunities, you have to understand the world. We have to view Southeast Asia, especially Thailand positively. Teachers and professors need to be able to see these opportunities first, then inspire student to pursue those opportunities.
If people see only problems in the world, the negative problems will oversee the good. It’s the way we think and how the media portrays the world is what people like to follow. Look at Chinese tourists as example. Many would think they are ‘noisy and greedy’ as that is a stereotype. Thailand has to change their way of thinking and see tourist as people here contributing to our economy.
Thailand has to see China, USA, and India as giants and how we can ride them and find opportunities to work hand in hand. Thailand has to be brave and stand tall. We have to teach our new generation to be proud, because the old generations were mainly taught to be passive aggressive. We have to realize that the trend of “Easternisation” is favoring Thailand and its right at our doorstep. Can Thailand rise to the occasion and answer the door? This is Thailand chance to take this golden opportunity and make it life changing for the people and the country.
This article was narrated by Professor Somkeit Rungruangviriya, Asst. to the President for Corporate Communication, Rangsit University.
Revised by: Lucas Zimmerman