Can China’s “Common Prosperity” Be Imported To Thailand? 

Can China’s “Common Prosperity” Be Imported To Thailand? 

Can China’s “Common Prosperity” Be Imported To Thailand? 

The pandemic has widened chasm between rich and poor in Thailand and while millions of Thais have plunged into financial depression, the country’s richest tycoons have seen their fortunes shoot up.

The country’s 50 richest tycoons have seen their combined worth grow by US$ 28 billion over the past year, according to Forbes magazine in its latest rankings of billionaires worldwide.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has been like a wrecking ball to Thailand’s tourism - dependent economy, has further widened the gap between rich and poor in one of the world’s most unequal nations.

Thailand’s economic model was already faltering with runaway inequality issues pre- pandemic with a 2016 study from Thammasat University concluding that 80 percent of the land is owned by the richest 5 per cent, while Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report showed that more than two-thirds of the country’s assets is controlled by the richest 1 percent.

The crisis has accelerated Thailand’s extreme concentration of power and wealth and deepened political divisions.

The economic crisis should encourage the establishment to endorse policies that translate popular aspirations into policy and enable a more fairer distribution of wealth.

The current government under PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha seems to have a penchant towards importing crucial products from China ranging from submarines to vaccines to test kits, why not go a step further and import their policy of “common prosperity”, a policy that might actually work to tackle the inequality in Thailand?

A “Favor China, Follow China” policy?

Mr. Xi-Jinping told officials in January that “we cannot let an unbridgeable gulf appear between the rich and the poor.
Warning of income gap, Xi-Jinping tells China’s tycoons to share wealth and promising “common prosperity” to lift farmers and working families into the middle class.
With this comes the promise of a more equitable society-a bigger and wealthier middle class and large corporations that give back rather than just take.
Mr. Xi wants to reverse economic inequality by pushing tougher measures aimed at the rich.

Thailand’s tycoons have a longstanding mutual benefitting relationship with the ruling establishment. Many of the richest people, who built their wealth on the back of government concessions, similarly flourished under the previous military government, also headed by PM Prayuth.

The Charoen Pokphand (CP) group, owned by the Cheeravont brothers who topped the Forbes’ country wealth charts with US$27.5 billion was part of a consortium that won the rights to develop the 225 billion baht ($9.9 billion) high speed railway linking three major airports in Thailand.

“Common Prosperity” in a Thai context does not necessarity mean that the country needs to “punish’ the rich or be a “robin hood” style of robbing from the rich to give to the poor but could be a more subtle shift in policies that concentrates on an environment that promotes growth of a more sustainable middle class and policies that limits “monopoly” tendencies in the country and government concessions that further enrich the already wealthy.

Written By - TBB.