In Bangkok's Chinatown, illegal trading in goods from the People's Republic of China is flourishing as never before.
Chinese street vendor and woman customer
Old Chinese shopkeeper TRACE to Chinese foodstuffs on sale 1
CU Chinese foodstuffs
CU Cans of lychees in basket
Sampans on canal
Police patrolling Chinatown
Woman eats Chinese dates
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Background: In Bangkok's Chinatown, illegal trading in goods from the People's Republic of China is flourishing as never before. Shoppers preparing for the Lunar New Year next have been snapping up lychees, dates, mushrooms, olives and even expensive tea sets.
Trading with China is officially banned in anti-Communist Thailand - yet an estimated US$25,000,000 worth of Chinese goods, mainly foodstuffs, find their way into the Chinatown shops each year.
The goods are sold openly. Such is the volume of business that the Thai Chamber of Commerce is pressing the military regime into starting trade talks with Peking.
It is though that most of the goods are smuggled into Thailand in fast boats and sampans which rendezvous with merchant ships in the Gulf os Siam. A small but powerful syndicate is believed to be behind the operation.
Police and customs agents manage to intercept about 10 percent of Chinese goods, but seem to turn a blind eye to then once they reach the market.