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Currently there may be a power struggle between the United States and China due to escalating presence of both in Thailand.
Chinese protection of Malays against Thailand
The Sultanate of Malacca voluntarily became a protectorate and tributary state to Ming dynasty China, which protected Malacca against its enemies with military force, allowing the Muslim Sultanate to prosper. The Chinese warded off Thailand and Majapahit from conquering Malacca, and also engaged in war against Portugal for conquering Malacca.
At the foundation of Malacca, the native peoples were the peoples with Hinduism and Buddhism influence. According to the annals record, at the time Parameswara founded Malacca, the country was often attacked by the old enemies Majapahit and the rivals from northern area of Malacca, Ayutthaya Kingdom. Malacca able to hold position and fight back the enemies. Parameswara decided to send his ambassador to visit the Emperor of China, one of the superpower of the period, the Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and both agreed to become allies. Ever since the agreement between Malacca Empire and China Empire, the Thai Ayutthaya Kingdom and Majapahit Empire never intended to attack Malacca. Later some record suggested that during the trade activities and arrival of the Chinese-Muslim admiral "Cheng Ho" or Zheng He, Parameswara converted to Islam and adopted an Islamic name, Sultan Iskandar Shah. The new religion spread quickly throughout his conversion and the voyage of Zheng He.
Ming dynasty China warned Thailand and the Majapahit against trying to conquer and attack the Malacca sultanate, placing the Malacca Sultanate under Chinese protection as a protectorate, and giving the ruler of Malacca the title of King. The Chinese strengthened several warehouses in Malacca. The Muslim Sultanate flourished due to the Chinese protection against the Thai and other powers who wanted to attack Malacca. Thailand was also a tributary to China and had to obey China's orders not to attack
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Prior to 1975, Sino–Thai relations were one of mutual suspicion, as China supported left-leaning factions within the Thai political circle and Thailand was clarify] of Chinese involvement with Cambodia's conflicts.[
Sino–Thai relations developed positively in 1978 when China continued backing Thailand during Cambodia's internal conflict whereby Marxist forces from Vietnam ousted the Maoist Khmer Rouge from power and threatened the security of South East Asia.
Sino–Thai relations continue to develop as trade became the dominant theme in bilateral relations. Thailand continues to support the One China Policy and maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan. This helps Thailand gain access to capital and the huge Chinese mainland market.
The bilateral trade relations have grown from year to year. Sino-Thailand bilateral trade volume in 1999 was of US $4.22 billion . Trade volume between the two countries reached US $25.3 billions in 2006, 31.07 billion dollars in 2007 and 36.2 billion dollars in 2008. China's transformation into a major economic power in the 21st century has led to an increase of foreign investments in the bamboo network, a network of overseas Chinese businesses operating in the markets of Southeast Asia that share common family and cultural ties.
China's export to Thailand were computer components, electrical motors, consumer electronics, machinery, metal products, chemicals and clothing.
Thailand's export to China were computer components, rubber, refined oil, plastic pellets, chemical electronics, crude oil, wood products and food.
China is Thailand's second largest export market. China is also Thailand's largest importer of goods into the country in 2010.
China and Thailand has signed a Free Trade Agreement back in 2003 which covered agricultural products. It was also known as an early harvest agreement on agricultural products in 2003. A comprehensive agreement is still pending negotiations.
China has planned to create China City Complex in Thailand to boost trade and get around trade barriers in the ASEAN region as well as other large foreign Markets which Thailand has trade agreements with such as the United States and European Union. China take advantage of the ASEAN–China Free Trade Area which came into effect January 1, 2010 which will allow its goods to be exported through ASEAN countries with zero or reduced trade barriers.
- ASEAN SEC (October 2001). "Forging Closer ASEAN-China Economic Relations In The Twenty-First Century". aseansec.org.
- Cardenal, Juan Pablo; Araújo, Heriberto (2011). La silenciosa conquista china. Barcelona: Crítica. pp. 230–232. (Spanish)
- Editorial (June 30, 2009). "Sino-Thai relations have come a long way". The Nation.
- [http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=3981 "A Hiatus in the Sino-Thai Special Relationship"]. China Brief Volume: 6 Issue: 19. May 9, 2007.
- "Thailand’s foreign relations under the new government". Retrieved 7/29/2014.
- Warren I. Cohen (2000). East Asia at the center: four thousand years of engagement with the world (illustrated ed.). Columbia University Press. p. 175. ISBN 0-231-10109-0. Retrieved 14 December 2011. "One of the great beneficiaries of Chinese naval power in the early years of the fifteenth century was the city-state of Melaka...Perceiving threats from Majapahit and the Tai who were extending their power down the Malay peninsula, Paramesvara looked to the more distant Chinese as a counterweight. He responded quickly to Ming overtures, sent a tribute mission to China in 1405 and was invested as king of Melaka by the Ming emperor. Visits by Zheng He's fleets left little doubt in the region that Melaka had become a Chinese protectorate. Taking no chances, Paramesvara personally led tribute mission to Peking on two or three occasions."
- Kenneth Warren Chase (2003). Firearms: a global history to 1700 (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-521-82274-2. Retrieved 14 December 2011. "The Chinese recognized Melaka as an independent state and warned the king of Thailand not to meddle with it... Nevertheless, the Chinese did not seek to establish colonies overseas, even when they anchored in places with large Chinese populations, like Sumatra and Java. They turned Melaka into a kind of protectorate and built a fortified warehouse there, but that was about it."
- Colonial armies in Southeast Asia. Routledge. p. 21. ISBN 1-134-31476-0. Retrieved 14 December 2011. "important legacy of Chinese imperialism... by intervening in the Melaka Straits in a way that facilitated the rise of Melaka, and protected it from depredations from Thailand (Siam) and from Java's state of Majapahit;...Melaka ...having been founded...by a ruler fleeing Singapore in the fact of Thai and Javanese hostility. Melaka repeatedly sent envoys to China. China in turn claimed the power to deter other tributary states, such as Thailand, from interfering with Melaka, and also claimed to have raised the 'chief' of Melaka to the status of king in 1405, and Melaka to a protected polity in 1410. Melaka as a Muslim Sultanate consolidated itself and thrived precisely in an era of Chinese-led 'globalisation'. which was gathering pace by the late fourteenth century, and peaked at this time."
- Karl Hack, Tobias Rettig, ed. (2006). Colonial armies in Southeast Asia. Volume 33 of Routledge studies in the modern history of Asia (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-415-33413-6. Retrieved 14 December 2011. "important legacy of Chinese imperialism... by intervening in the Melaka Straits in a way that facilitated the rise of Melaka, and protected it from depredations from Thailand (Siam) and from Java's state of Majapahit;...Melaka ...having been founded...by a ruler fleeing Singapore in the fact of Thai and Javanese hostility. Melaka repeatedly sent envoys to China. China in turn claimed the power to deter other tributary states, such as Thailand, from interfering with Melaka, and also claimed to have raised the 'chief' of Melaka to the status of king in 1405, and Melaka to a protected polity in 1410. Melaka as a Muslim Sultanate consolidated itself and thrived precisely in an era of Chinese-led 'globalisation'. which was gathering pace by the late fourteenth century, and peaked at this time."
- "China-Thai relations can always use a new spark". The Nation. 2010-07-01.
- Sompop Manarungsan. "Thailand-China Cooperation in Trade, Investment and Official Development Assistance".
- Quinlan, Joe (November 13, 2007). "Insight: China’s capital targets Asia’s bamboo network". Financial Times.
- Murray L Weidenbaum (1 January 1996). The Bamboo Network: How Expatriate Chinese Entrepreneurs are Creating a New Economic Superpower in Asia. Martin Kessler Books, Free Press. pp. 4–8. ISBN 978-0-684-82289-1.
- "China to build massive trade center in Thailand". The Associated Press. January 7, 2011.
- Nophakhun Limsamarnphun (January 10, 2011). "China seeking fast track into ASEAN market". The Nation (Thailand)/Asia News.