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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera in Thailand is a dying art. Opera companies performed for years in theaters, but the tradition is now under threat because of changing cultural habits and demographics. Nowadays these companies travel from village to village, bringing the tradition as a way to honor ancestors rather than to entertain the masses. Local Chinese temples raise the money to pay expenses.

Chinese opera became popular when Chinese migrated to Thailand in large numbers two hundred years ago. About 14 percent of Thailand’s population is ethnic Chinese. As older ethnic Chinese pass away, younger generations who have assimilated into Thai culture do not really continue the tradition. Further, just a small number of Thais of Chinese descent understand the dialect used by these opera singers.

Text: Ana Salvá

Fotos: Walter Astrada

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 01
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

One of the star performers applies makeup before going on stage. He is one of the few who continue to sing in Chinese dialect. Some of the company are ethnic Chinese, but others are rural Thais who were sold into the troupe when they were children. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 02
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

An opera company member applies makeup before the performance. The child is the son of a couple of the performers who accompanies his parents in their nomadic life. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 03
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera companies travel from one village to another in Thailand performing in local fairs and festivals. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 04
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

A portrait of one of the performers. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 05
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera company members ready for a performance. The actors and singers carry on the tradition as a way to honour ancestors rather than to entertain the masses

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 06
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

An audience member enjoys the performance of a Chinese opera near Ayuttaya, north of Bangkok. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 07
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Two children watch the performance of a Chinese opera near Ayuttaya, north of Bangkok. As time goes by Chinese opera performers see fewer new faces in the audience. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 08
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

A member of the opera company applies makeup near the stage. Some of performers are sold into the troupe as children and raised in the company with little education. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Star Wars Premiere in Bangkok
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
18 Dec 2015

The Bangkok premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' was held at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in the Thai capital.

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Thai-U.S Strategic Dialogue in Bangkok
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Senior delegations representing Thailand and the United States met on December 17, 2015 in Bangkok. Permanent Secretary Apichart Chinwanno led the Thailand delegation, and Assistant Secretary of State for EastAsian Daniel Russel led the US delegation.

As long-time treaty allies, the United States and Thailand reaffirmed their shared commitment to promoting peace, security, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Recognizing Thailand’s regional leadership role and the United States’ vital contributions to peace and stability, the two sides engaged in a comprehensive discussion of issues within Southeast Asia and across the broader Asia-Pacific region.

The United States reaffirmed its support for ASEAN centrality in the Asia-Pacific regional architecture.  The two sides discussed ways to enhance their cooperation in regional frameworks, including the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), the East Asia Summit (EAS), and the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership, with a view to tackling common challenges as well as contributing to greater stability and prosperity of the region.  Both sides recognized Thailand’s active engagement in the LMI and look forward to enhancing cooperation under the framework in the areas of education, energy, public health, science and technology, innovation, and women’s empowerment.  The two delegations underscored the importance of coordinating assistance in the region and of supporting Lao People’s Democratic Republic 2016 ASEAN Chairmanship.  The U.S. delegation noted that President Barack Obama looks forward to hosting leaders from all ten ASEAN nations, including Thailand, at the ASEAN-U.S. Special Summit early next year.

The two sides reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability, ensuring maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation, including in and over-flight above the South China Sea.  The delegations noted the need to avoid the militarization of the disputed areas. The two sides also reaffirmed their support for on-going efforts by ASEAN and China to fully and effectively implement the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety, and to work toward the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct (COC).

On bilateral issues, both sides affirmed their enduring treaty alliance and the strategic importance of their relations.  The two delegations discussed ways to further strengthen and expand areas of cooperation, including public health workforce development, medical research, creative economy, prevention and suppression of trafficking in persons and forced labor, law enforcement cooperation, and training through the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), as well as trade and investment.

The two sides reaffirmed the value of Thailand-U.S. defense cooperation and look forward to continuing to implement the 2012 Joint Vision Statement by strengthening cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, global peacekeeping, and military medical research, among other defense engagements.  The United States welcomed Thailand’s pledge at President Obama’s September 2015 Peacekeeping Summit to contribute civil development, engineering, and medical teams to future United Nations peacekeeping missions, and looks forward to continuing to work with Thailand as feasible on capacity building and training of peacekeepers from regional countries through Thailand’s Peacekeeping Operation Centre.  The two sides also look forward to resuming their Defense Strategic Talks at the earliest opportunity.

Furthermore, the two sides also identified practical ways to expand their comprehensive partnership to benefit their respective countries, the region, and beyond.  In particular, Thailand and the United States agreed to hold the first Joint Commission Meeting under their bilateral Science and Technology Agreement in Thailand in the first half of 2016.  The two countries look forward to expanding trade and investment ties and agreed to hold the next round of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as soon as possible in 2016.  The United States recognized Thailand’s leadership in the area of public health.  Both sides are committed to working together to detect, prevent, and respond to infectious disease threats and address public health challenges through both bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. The two delegations noted that a five-year plan is being developed to achieve the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).  They also agreed to explore the possibility of establishing a bilateral public health coordination mechanism.

The two governments recognized the importance of education and people-to-people connectivity.  In line with President Obama’s priorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, the two sides discussed future bilateral cooperation and the co-organization of a regional STEM workshop in 2016.  The two governments pledged their recommitment to the Thailand-U.S. Creative Partnership, launched at the 2010 U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue, which identifies new opportunities for collaborative ingenuity between the two countries.

Recognizing Thailand’s efforts and contributions in addressing global challenges, the two sides also discussed enhanced cooperation on climate change; disease prevention and control; irregular migration and human trafficking; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; peacekeeping; and counterterrorism. The two sides welcomed the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

The delegations discussed current political developments in Thailand and the country’s commitment to  implementing comprehensive reforms and a return to sustainable democracy.  Both sides also affirmed the importance of promoting universal human rights and humanitarian cooperation.

Looking forward, the two sides welcomed continued robust, candid exchanges on these and other issues and a continued exchange of visits in the future.  The two sides agreed to hold the Sixth U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue in the United States in 2016.

 

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Thai-US Summit 01
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Thai-US Summit 02
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcoming to Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

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Thai-US Summit 03
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

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Thai-US Summit 04
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian.

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Thai-US Summit 05
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

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Thai-US Summit 06
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

U.S. delegation at the 5th Thai-US strategic dialogue.

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Thai-US Summit 07
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs gives a speech to the press media.

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Thai-US Summit 08
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives a speech to the press media.

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Thai-US Summit 09
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs speaking to the press media.

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Star Wars Premiere 01
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Catering and cocktail event at the The Bangkok premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in the Thai capital.

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Star Wars Premiere 02
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

A Thai artist draws a character from the movie at the The Bangkok premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in the Thai capital.

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Star Wars Premiere 03
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Signage for the Bangkok premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' held at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in the Thai capital.

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Thai Committee Meets Press on New Dra...
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
15 Dec 2015

A briefing session to foreign correspondents at the Parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, by the NRSA (National Reform Steering Assembly) on the New Thai Draft Constitution.

The objetives are to provide an update on the progress of the NRSA's work and the New Thai Draft Constitution.

Goals of the reform as provided by Constitution are to develop: Democratic regime with the King as the Head of State, as deemed suitable for Thailand social context; Transparent and fair electoral system; Efficient anti-corruption mechanisms; Economic and Social Equity for the sustainable development; Mechanisms for comprehensive and rapid public services; Strict and equal law enforcement; 11 areas of reform respectively completed on the basis of priority and available time frame.

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Loi Krathong Festival 03
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
27 Nov 2015

A man stands in the waters of the Ping river while pushing the lantern along the river stream during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 07
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
27 Nov 2015

Street vendor checking her phone while waiting for customers to purchase her Krathongs, decorated baskets which are then floated on a river.

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Loi Krathong Festival 01
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

A local boat sails on the Ping river during the celebration of the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 04
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

Two local girls light the river lanterns before offering them to symbolize the drifting away of bad luck and misfortune during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 09
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

A big parade held on the last day of the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where dozens of similar parades take place around the city.

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Loi Krathong Festival 10
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

A big Krathong parade chart pass nearby Chinatown during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 11
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

Local boys stage an ancient spade fight in the parade lines during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 12
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

A parade during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 13
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

A parade during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 14
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

One young boy during the celebrations of the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 15
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

A poster of the Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Consort Sirikit during the celebrations the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 16
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

A tourist launches a sky lantern at Tapae Gate during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 17
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
26 Nov 2015

A couple launches a sky lantern, also known as Khom Fai, nearby Tapae Gate during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 02
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
25 Nov 2015

A local man launches a sky lantern also known as Khom Fai during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 05
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
25 Nov 2015

A boy offers decorated basket (or Krathong) to the river and pushes it to make it flow with the current during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Loi Krathong Festival 06
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
25 Nov 2015

The focus of celebrations in Chiang Mai is around the Saphan Nawarat Bridge on the Ping river banks. People release lanterns into the river and sky during the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.