Multiples under a critical government spotlight amid allegations of unfair trading practices. Independents crying foul as invading large chains blossom. Trade associations indulging in political infighting as the food sector transforms. Sounds familiar? Of course it does. It could be the UK. But it isn't. The scenario that I have painted is being enacted 6,000 miles from our shores, in Thailand. And it grabbed the attention of European buyers who made the trip to the Bangkok food fair last week. But then, when it comes to grocery, there's a lot about Thailand that is strangely familiar. European chains, like our own Tesco, Ahold and Carrefour, have seen the potential of the market and are slugging it out in true Euro style while wide-eyed locals eagerly fill their trollies. But the really significant story to emerge during last week's Bangkok show was the potential that is set to be realised a few thousands miles to the north. China's recent membership of the World Trade Organisation caused only a blip on the radar screens of many in UK Grocery plc. "Far away and out of sight ­ nothing much will happen in our lifetime." Alas, that view could soon prove very short-sighted. The betting across the Far East, plus the EU officials who studiously trawled the aisles at Thailand's food show, is that WTO status will open new markets for China's prolific suppliers, with massive implications for the world food supply league. And, just as the new markets team from Food from Britain makes the trip east, so food and drink shippers from China are preparing to fly in the opposite direction. The Chinese, given their cheap labour, have great potential as food suppliers in a number of key areas. Thus international competition matters will inevitably tax the political brains of the west as duties and tariffs fall. Beijing's ambition to become a top global food player may not appear to be an imminent issue amid the supermarket aisles on our side of the globe. But if its executives' enthusiasm in Bangkok last week was anything to go by, it will soon be on western grocery agendas. {{OPINION }}