Readers' Submissions

The Deal With The Chinese In Thailand

  • Written by Anonymous
  • April 4th, 2006
  • 12 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

The disclaimer and introduction:
I am Whitey, from the West. I work in my home country half of the year, actively supporting my employer’s ventures in SEA countries. I get to travel to SEA more than a dozen times a year, and I stay for weeks at a time. I am bald, fat and 40. I have tact, poise, and charismatic powers in public. I love my job. I love SEA. I particularly love LOS. I do not love the Chinese. I do not hate them either. I admire them for some things and despise them for other things. But I cannot love them, much as I cannot love crocodiles. I absolutely adore the Thais, though. You can only find a handful of cultures in the world that are as much fun to be among. In private, I am divorced and have a girlfriend in LOS. My personal views and observations are no better or more important than anyone else’s. I will just open up and blather out what I wanted to contribute, now:

The vicious diatribe:
They are Chinese. In Thailand. The deal with them is the same deal with Chinese everywhere. They are not one bit Thai in their psyche or in their motives. If you look into Chinese sociology and history, you find some things that are easy to understand. There are only a few parts of the essential Chinese mindset that are more difficult to get at. The rest of it is easy to discover. The Family is the center of Chinese cosmology. There are no institutions outside that Family that they will put it all on the line for. Their involvement in anything else is superficial to the enterprise. They are only there to get something for the Family.

With the Chinese, business is warfare, commerce is combat. The martial arts of marketplace strategy, pricing and buying tactics, the marksmanship of merchandising and product placement. All Chinese who enter business attend a military academy of sorts in the family school. Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents are chiefs of staff. Brothers and sisters and cousins are comrades in arms. In a marriage between Chinese Families, two armies mete out alliances and form non-aggression pacts which set the ground-rules for the businesses to be conducted in public view. Out of the public view, the finest of silk adorns those who practice in the black arts of enterprise: espionage, intelligence mining, graft, extortion, or absolutely any other means which can be brought off successfully to gain a decisive military advantage.

No way are they talking. They are closed off to anyone outside their encampment. They obviously understand how differently you would feel about dealing with a warrior over a bag of merchandise, as opposed to a modest business owner. They don’t want you connecting one to the other, seeing things as they really are, with your guard up, prepared to be fierce to get what you want. No one can be permitted to see what goes on in the Family business. Even a mercenary, hired to support some business operation from behind the scenes, will not be allowed to see into the family strategy and intelligence. Especially mercenaries. Upstart warlords on the make.

This goes all the way back to Chinese feudal society, and has never changed theme music in 1200 years. The tools and tactics have evolved, but never in all of these years has a new ideology ever been put into practice. Nor is there call for one, unless the existing system fails to bring success.

Face. It must all look legit, legal, noble, modest, simple, and pleasant. At all times. Duck Mn Duck. They may do as they see fit behind the scenes, to make it work. As long as it looks good. And towards you, the customer: An intensive study is made of what you expect to see, what you want, what you will say, and what you will pay. What looks good is more sharply defined as micro-tuning the business environment to the customer’s psyche. You are being shown exactly what they think you want to be shown. With complete sincerity. Be flattered that so much attention is paid to you, then be terrified that you are read so well; and then learn to communicate what you want, and what you will pay, to your advantage: in a casual way, broadcasting your point of aim, so they can move the target a little closer to where you would like it to be. And your price. That is your only credential with a merchant warrior. If you do not fight for and obtain your asking price, you will get treated to no respect at all.

You Gweilo cannot marry into a Chinese Family. The daughter marries out, and is written off as a loss. Until you can provide an important business connection to the Family. This is then a valued trade alliance with a foreign force. You are not coming into the Family. They will just build the front porch out toward you a little, and call it a parlor. There, you can have beers together, sit around and talk about stuff, but the family business is still and always off limits. As with Jewish families, it is rightly observed that people outside the teachings will not remain true to its laws. And so there is a separation, and a closed society.

The Chinese do not value love and sex as highly as the Thais. They do not indulge in fun and play nearly as much. The Chinese aspire to a more austere business acumen, and owe a military duty to the Family venture. They sacrifice whatever they must to become rich and powerful. See the Family as a ship on a trade expedition. Your would-be Chinese bride will break from her Family, jump ship, and help you to captain your ship to glory. You will learn a lot from her about business as warfare. If you are a lover, not a fighter, she will lose interest in your party boat. She signed up for a navigator’s berth on a man-o-war. Maybe if she is dis-affected with her Family tradition, she may try to dig you as an artist and true genius, or as a mad scientist or a teaching intellectual – and sign on for a wild ride of fun fame and fortune. But if you are in business, she opted for you because she is all in for whatever that nets for her Family. The ethics and dynamics of your western business world will not mesh well with hers. Oil and Water. Just be glad you are in the oil, which will rise to the top, while water settles to the bottom.. Western business will always overpower Chinese business. Always. The Chinese paradigm is control of the existing wealth in the battlespace through mastery of maneuver and manipulation, like price-fixing, cartels, supply starvation, and political leverage. The western paradigm is success though the creation of new wealth, always superseding or augmenting existing wealth and power with new. The west invents, creates, and innovates in 3 dimensions all the time. The East just copies and refines and then out-produces at under-cutting costs. And so the two can both prosper in a big enough world, but one is always ahead of and above the other. The Chinese build, but they do not invent, and that is what keeps them beneath the Gweilo. That has weight. But now, what about you though ? Personally – apart from your western breed?

Wipe that smug grin off your face, you sick pup. You came to LOS for a reason – there is

something lacking in the high-speed, low-drag West. You found it in Thailand. And you want it both ways. The delights of Thailand with the fair play and good work habits of the West. You will not have it both ways, but you may figure out how to balance yourself with one foot in each world.

I do not want Thailand to become more like the West. Or more like China. Thailand is already learning all the bad habits of the West, and the Thais pursue a business ethic like that of the Chinese, which breeds treachery they do not have the social machinery to control. They too are completely loyal to Family first. But Thai traditions and ideologies are very different from other Asians, and preciously human. Empathy, Play, Beauty, Merit, Consideration, Passion, and Song. They are not merely discussed here and appreciated in theatres by sour-faced workaholics. These things are lived and practiced in a strength of spirit in Thailand that is simply not found much elsewhere. It is what makes the Thai people the way they are. And it is what makes you love them, and love life here. Enjoy all of the ambrosia of Thailand while you can. It may not last.

If you want the cheap sex, you can go to Bangladesh after Thailand gets too expensive for you. The economy drives that, and Bangladesh has zero economy and eleventy-six million cute girls. You can get LT with a hottie there for $7.72 USD. Every night of your life. Probably every other aspect of life there sucks rhino nuts in comparison, but the Almighty Takar will overcome everything, right?

If you stay in LOS after hearing about that, it is your own acknowledgement that life here is more than cheap sex with hot girls. It is a fantastic package of Asian and western materiel in a tropical paradise, with Thai poise and charm, at prices from 2/3 to 1/8 of those back in the West. The parts that suck, are no worse than the parts of your home country that also suck ([almost] No fat chicks in LOS!). You just need to distance yourself from the aspects of LOS that suck, or deal with them, or better yet, re-program your thinking to see them in a more positive light so they don’t suck as bad. Just don’t try to change them. Let the Thais change them. Let the Thais know what you think – but first – learn how to do it the Thai way: no confrontations, and volunteering that the problem is YOUR problem. And if you can make the solution seem sanuk, jai-dii, and good for making merit, they may want to try things out a different way for a change. Simple psychology and charisma. If you were very dedicated to that, you could accomplish a great deal here. Brilliant business solutions have no lasting value if all of the Thai employees are trying to forget how humiliating and stressful the adjustment process was. Anything you would like to see real change in needs to be approached in the manner that works over the long term. How simple is that?

Thais are charming, and have not devoted their culture to getting power and keeping it. The Chinese are war-dogs, and most cannot be any other way anymore. All other social modalities of transaction have been suppressed or purged from their culture. You should not expect any positive results if you treat them as friends, nor should you intrude on their cool secret business cartels by taking an interest in what they do. They will never trust or endear to you, and if they could take all that you have and leave you naked and sobbing, they would, and they’d give nothing back. Business is business. Sports is Sports, Family is Family.

Any Farang you meet is probably here in LOS either for the Wonder-Of-It-All to recharge his batteries and then go back to the big white machine, or he is a true ex-patriot, trying to divorce himself spiritually from his native society and fly his own flag, because he does not want to be involved the way it is back home – a misfit, of a sort. If you are just here on business, you are still one of those two in spirit, so you still chose a side. The first sort has every right, IMHO, to take up for his native country’s way of doing things, and to complain about what sucks in LOS, as long as he understands nothing will change, it is just his safety valve lifting. I am hoping that the second sort will gradually find the balance to stop criticizing and complaining about what they have come to LOS to be among, and maybe find a way to be a positive part of it. Maybe even make it suck less.

Those punters who come to LOS with bad behavior and an anti-social disregard for it all, are our social responsibility. Each of us bears a personal responsibility to keep things civilized and friendly here in LOS. Keeping the good mood. If we do not want the stress and the burden of taking it up with a tourist who acts badly, and we dodge getting exposed to their nasty ways by keeping to ourselves, I feel we have done the Thais, and ourselves, and all the rest of the “farangs” living here, a disservice. We know what needed to be said to the SOB making a scene, but avoided the expense to ourselves by saying nothing. So the cost is just placed on an entire community instead. Social responsibility. Now, even as some of you invite me to play hide-and-go-fxxk-myself for putting this obligation to you, you can see the point I am making. A thousand encounters with some drunk tourist in shite clothing with a foul mouth and no regard for Thai social norms. Ten thousand such stories. This is where the connotation for “Farang” comes from. Maybe we would make it suck less if we came off of permanent vacation for just some of that work.

And I would like to say hello to the author of the new “How to be the man” submission who wants to teach us how to be the alpha male and slay pussy. Well, hey man, you are right about the large number of guys who do not know how to handle women, and who post their BG experiences here as though their story is a meaningful contribution to a relationships forum. But you are only talking about conquest and control. On that stuff, you are hitting bulls eyes. But there is a lot of other stuff about relationships to Thai ladies that merits discussion, and some of that stuff gets its due here on Stickman’s site. This site is about life in BKK and LOS. Good on you that you have figured out how to be yourself. But you need to treat the rest of these guys with the same respect. They have all been there and done that, and just now, they are not all trying to be like you are.

Come on down the Gulliver’s and show us your moves. Teach us to fish without getting any on ya. That’d be a treat. Beers are on me.

Stickman's thoughts:

Excellent.