India-Australia-US join party to shatter Chinese dream of Kra canal project in Thailand
New Delhi: China might receive a hit in the diplomatic front as India, Australia, and the USA—three of the four integral members of the Quad- have now shown interest to invest in the Kra Canal project which is being actively entertained by the Thailand government.
The canal project assumes significance as it could change the landscape of shipping in the region.
A parliamentary panel in Thailand on Monday claimed several nations have shown an interest in constructing a canal across southern Thailand, which could allow ships to bypass the Strait of Malacca, reports The Economic Times
Thai Nation Power Party MP Songklod Thipparat, who chairs the parliament’s group that studies the project’s feasibility, said the centuries-old dream to build a canal across the Kra Isthmus is getting closer to becoming a reality. He said countries such as China, India, Australia, and the U.S. are willing to support Thailand on the project, the newspaper reported.
“They want to sign a memorandum of understanding with us,” Songklod said in an interview to a local media in Thailand as quoted by the Indian newspaper. “Foreign embassies have contacted us to get the latest status on the project.”
He said, “More than 30 foreign firms have shown an interest in investing or supplying us with financial and technical support to build the canal.”
The canal, if constructed, promises to connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea.
It will provide a short-cut for vessels to navigate between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
According to media reports, China had been looking to construct a 120-km-long mega canal cutting through the isthmus of Kra in Thailand, that could ostensibly help Beijing in solving the ‘Malacca Dilemma’ as it would have opened the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, bypassing the Strait of Malacca.
Thailand, a key ally of China, is slowly pushing back against Beijing and recently the country decided to not only postpone the procurement of two submarines from China but has also shelved the Chinese proposal for building a canal in the Bay of Bengal replacing it with its own project, media reports said.
Following public outrage over the US$724 million purchase of two submarines from China, Thailand has now delayed the deal.
Under a 2015 deal, Thailand was one of the first countries to buy Chinese naval hardware and finalized its purchase of three submarines in 2017, with the first one expected to be delivered in 2023, reports Eurasian Times.
The order for two more submarines was approved this month for US$723.9 million by the parliamentary committee – a move that saw public outrage as the country suffers from a declining economy, reported the newspaper.
Thailand earlier announced to abandon the Chinese led-KRA canal project under which Beijing wanted to build a bypass to the Strait of Malacca.
EurAsian Times reported earlier that the Kra Canal is China’s attempt at solving its ‘Malacca problem’.
Image credit: Google Earth
Special Tag: Kra Canal