Amid heightening tensions in the Indo-Pacific, Thailand has landed a major blow to China by claiming that multiple countries including QUAD members have shown interest in the Kra Canal Project.
The Kra Canal project aims to construct a 120-kilometer canal joining the gulf of Thailand and the Andaman sea through the Kra isthmus in Thailand. Originally a Chinese funded and thought-of project, this water passage would help ships to bypass the Strait of Malacca as a primary entry point to the Indian Ocean.
According to Khaosod English, a Thai newspaper, the Thai National Party’s MP Songklod Thipparat has said that countries apart from China such as India, Australia, and the United States are willing to support Thailand for the project.
“They want to sign a memorandum of understanding with us. Foreign embassies have contacted us to get the latest status on the project,” the minister said during an interview. Songklod Thipparat chairs the parliament’s group that studies the feasibility of the Kra Canal project.
With the Indian and QUAD participation in the project, New Delhi could be less worried over the Chinese strategy of monopoly on trade routes, especially the Kra Canal which would give PLA ships direct access to the Andaman Sea.
The minister also said that more than 30 foreign firms have shown an interest in investing or supplying Thailand with financial and technical support to build the canal. The “Thai Canal” shall include two parallel channels spanning across three provinces of Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Songkhla in the south, officials have stated.
According to experts, if Thailand chooses even one of the QUAD members to aid in the construction of the Canal, it would land a big blow to China’s strategical and financial goals.
The Strait of Malacca has been a major bottleneck for Beijing, which receives about 80% of its oil supplies through this channel. India, being in a strategic geographical advantage, can block Chinese economical growth by seizing the western part of the canal, imposing an embargo.
The QUAD is an alliance between India, Australia, the United States, and Japan, which has undisputedly taken on the mission to check Beijing’s domination and ensuring freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific theatre.