The Social Capital of Being Chinese in Thai Politics

  • Wasana WongsurawatEmail author


The life and political career of Banharn Silpa-acha (1932–2016) represents the complex and changing status of ethnic Chinese in Thailand during the twenty-first century. In 1995, Banharn became the first overtly Chinese Thai to be elected as Prime Minister. Through the chapter’s close and detailed examination of how one individual navigated through and influenced perception and politics during a rise of nationalism in the Thai constitutional monarchy, the influence of Chineseness in the context of Thai politics is traced. The author concludes three main transformations: (1) the growing importance of Thai citizenship in politics, (2) the diminishing need for assimilation by ethnic Chinese, and (3) the growing influence and cultural capital of Chineseness in the globalized world.


Banharn Silpa-acha Chinese-Thai Entrepreneurs Identity Thai politics 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand

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