The revival of the idea of building the Kra Canal through Thailand to enable shipping to bypass the narrow Straits of Malacca has been in the news recently.
The plan would be to build a 750 mile (1,200Km) canal at an estimated cost of $28 billion, which would provide greater support to current supply chain.
The notion of creating a new sea lane that slashes shipping times between the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea in the Pacific Ocean has never lost its powerful magnetism.
According to a report in AsiaOne, the latest chapter in the Kra Canal epic came last month when Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a proponent of the ambitious scheme when he was prime minister in the late 1990s, reportedly signed a Thai-Chinese deal to develop this project. However, Chavalit denied it.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesmen today dispelled media reports in his country that the two nations had agreed in principal to construct a USD28 billion canal across the Isthmus of Kra.
The idea to dig the canal is hardly a new one; it was first mooted more than two centuries ago, and studied in depth when Gen Chavalit was in government. But it has never happened for reasons that range from financial to sovereignty to security. Yet some staunch supporters of the project have not given up on the dream of building Southeast Asia’s answer to the Panama and Suez canals.
Some see the canal as a major boost for trade and the region, while others warn it will be an enormous environmental catastrophe.
In fact, it’s potentially huge implications are not only in the economic realm, but also in the regional security and social spheres.