INDIAN OCEAN REGION

Thai-Kra Canal: ‘Chinese Money A Big Concern, Better If It Comes With less Strings Attached’

Amitabh P Revi and Prateek Suri Bangkok 10 January 2019

A 341-year-old idea in the making, the Thai-Kra Canal is now more likely than ever before to be given the green signal. But there are various factors that still need to be considered. Umesh Pandey, Former Editor of the Bangkok Post, speaks to SNI’s Associate Editor Amitabh P Revi about concerns surrounding the building of the canal, chief among them being the fact that China’s PLA Naval ships would now be able to use the short-cut between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Such a move could potentially affect the region’s maritime security. Another issue for Thailand to consider is that the country could be facing a potential debt trap as China is the sole financier of the project. On the flip side, ‘China concerns’ aside, the potential of the proposed canal to become an economic trampoline for Thailand cannot be ignored. There is huge potential here for the country to boost its trade with India and the world.   

Following a two-part video series 

Thai-Kra Canal: A Short-Cut Between The Indian And Pacific Oceans?

KRA-Thai Canal: Will King Rama X Change Maritime History?

and an in-depth interview with one of the most prominent former military officials pushing for the canal  this interview with the influential Indian-origin former editor raises important questions about Thailand’s future. Will the insurgency in the southern part of the country impact the proposal for the canal? Will Thailand be able to assuage its neighbours’ concerns regarding the canal? There are signs of hope with Singapore not being as stridently opposed as it earlier was to this potential alternative to the Malacca Strait. But Thailand knows there is still a long road ahead to convincing everyone about the merits of the Thai-Kra canal.

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