Why was Thailand never colonized?

By Tim Plintron


I find it hilarious for “some” to mix up historical information of when and whether or not Thailand was colonized or not so I will try to explain in great details.

If people want to cite historical claims that Thailand was colonized by the Khmer, the Burmese, and the Chinese, that claim would be invalid despite for these kind of factors. During the Khmer Empire, the Thai kingdom wasn’t born yet with exception of the Mon people, the original inhabitants of Central and Northern Thailand. During the Khmer Empire, the Khmer king did not export Khmer people to much of Thailand with exception of Lower Northeastern Thailand since much of the Khmer Empire’s energy was more focus in building Hindu temple throughout western Cambodia and parts of Thailand while waging wars with the neighboring kingdoms of Champa and Pagan Empire and sending only Khmer princes to govern the Central Thai region to govern the Mons. In addition, it is debated among historians on how far the Khmer Empire at it greatest height extended to. Some of this image here gives good example of variation of the Khmer Empire’s border.

Although all three maps shows the Khmer Empire being a large empire, of the differences is how far the Khmer Empire stretches to include all of Northern & Southern Thailand to reach to China or expanding partial ways. The same way with the Burmese at their greatest height in 1586 when they included Thailand & Laos.

As you can see, although both maps shows Thailand had been under the Burmese control, but the map shows variation which are on how far the kingdom controlled. Same problem with the map of the Qing Dynasty and it’s tributary.

If this map shows the Thailand being under the control of the Qing, then the Chinese know’s very little knowledge on how much they extended to. From the maps I had provided with the Khmer, Burmese, and the Chinese, each shows variation of Thailand being controlled but each doesn’t show the exact amount they had controlled and following the accurate borders of Thailand during when they controlled the country. For example, the Qing Empire map in 1760 which shows partial parts of Thailand being colonized except the Bangkok and the Southern region area which is hilarious and having the boundary of Thailand in it’s 1900s form not in 1760s. In order to show having to the rights of being colonize, there should be evidences of all of the country being included as being annexed by another country and having evidence of migration that was done. During the Khmer and the Burmese, there were no evidence of migration being done with exception of kings submitting tributaries to another kings like during the Toungoo era in 1580. In addition, during when Toungoo had control over Ayutthaya, the had the policy of depopulating the country instead which left the capital only 10,000 people to protect themselves from the invading Cambodian forces. However as a side note, before the colonization period, there were no such things as country of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc but Southeast Asia was ruled in the form of city-states kingdoms which is similar how Germany and Italy was during the Napolean Era. Therefore, each states depend on one another for protection and may chooses to declare independence when they want to. The relationship with China was in the form of being economic tribuatary than political since Thailand had to conduct trade in order to access the large Chinese market which Britain and France did back then.

However what most Thais are proud of was the independence of Thailand during theEuropean Colonization which lasted from the 15th century to 1914. The reason was that although Thailand had lost their vassal and parts of it’s inner territories to the French Indochina and British India but the country was able to able to avoid being controlled by the Europeans in any form. The only incident that occurred to Thailand was 1893 when the country had to cede to the French Laotian territories and was forced to have 4.6 Demilitarized zone throughout the Mekong River, which is similar how Germany was after the loss of Alcase-Lorraine and the establishment of the Demilitarized zone in the Rhineland in 1919. However through direct negotiation with France and diplomatic relationship with UK, Germany, Austria, and Russia caused the country to be recognized by the European as a full independent state between the French and the British colonies.

Although some people and historians may cite the invasion of Japan in 1941 as a form of Thailand being colonized but it should be clarified that Thailand wasn’t a Japanese state in these reasons.

1). Although Japan came to Thailand as a surprised invasion, but it should be understood that Thailand owes Japan a favor for pressuring the Vichy French government in retro ceding territories that Thailand gave in 1902, 1904, and 1907 back to the Thai government under Phibun.

2). Even though Japan requested Thailand to declare war with the UK and the US, the Thai consulate never handed to the US congress the official declaration of war paper which shows Thailand was still an allied state underground.

3). Like Hungry & Romania relationship with Nazi Germany, Thailand helped Japan in allowing Japanese troop in providing road and railways to enter British India and Malaya while in return received territories as a payment in helping the Japanese. However those payment territories became the “jail break” card for Thailand in entering the UN and even help provide troops to the UN in fighting against the communist force in Korea and Vietnam. The only catch for the Thai government was when receiving the four former Thai Malay states back to Thai jurisdiction, Japanese soldiers will remain stationed there.

4). Although some may speculate the Japanese may had colonized Thailand from 1941–1945 due to surprised invasion and bringing in POW from European colonized territories, but its that the fact that the Japanese government treated Thailand as an ally which was recognized by the officially signed treaty by the Thai and Japanese government in 1941 which allow the Japanese troops to pass through Thai soil without interfering Thai politics or shipment of natural resources that the Japanese did in Taiwan and Korea which gave Thailand the name “Italy of the East.” Therefore compared to other occupied territories Thai citizens didn’t receive any tolerant by the Japanese soldiers that occurred to China, Korea, Philippines, etc.

In current day, some person like Ron Paul here may claim that Thailand was colonized by China because of immigration, that person should understand that unlike the US, Europe, and other countries that were previously colonized, Thailand had little to non racial issues in regarding to non-Thai people living in Thailand since the country is a multinational nation and China had no historical claims over Thailand in any ways. To make the claim of 50% of Bangkok being Chinese immigrant as false because unlike Malaysia or Indonesia were there were no segregation on ethnicity, Thailand passed the the law that time that for aliens to live in Thailand, they must change their Chinese name into Thai name and be part of the society, or else be ship back to China. Therefore, it would be hard to tell whether they are Chinese or ethnic Thai despite trying to be assimilated. During the 1950, China was facing civil wars between the Nationalist and the Communist and despite of hardship caused many Chinese to immigrate to Thailand for a new life abroad. Which is similar practice in the US where many European came due to hardship in Europe. Therefore although Thailand have large numbers of Chinese immigrants to Thailand, many would consider themselves as Thai in nationality while considering themselves as Chinese Thai in ethnicity which is like how a German decedent in the US would consider themselves as German American or Austrian American. To make a claim that China would one day would make Thailand a vassal state would be fictional despite Thailand having foreign policy to be equal with both China and the US for economic and military purpose.

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