India, Australia, and the USA – three of the four integral members of the Quad have shown interest to invest in the Kra Canal project which is considered to be a viable option for the Thailand government after rejecting China’s proposal for the same.
According to media reports, a parliamentary panel in Thailand claimed several nations including India, Australia, the U.S.A, had shown an interest in constructing a canal across southern Thailand.
China too had been looking to construct a 120-kilometer mega canal cutting through the isthmus of Kra in Thailand, that could 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.
However, the Thailand government, after facing flak from the public for even entertaining the thought of allowing China to encroach its sovereign boundaries had eventually rejected the plan.
Instead, as per reports, Thailand was instead looking to construct a land passageway bypassing the Strait of Malacca, effectively scrapping the Kra Canal project.
The Strait of Malacca is a major bottleneck in China’s global ambitions. 80 percent of China’s oil supplies pass through the Malacca Strait, apart from forming its trade routes to the Middle East and Europe. But India’s geographical position is such that it can easily blockade the Western side of the Strait of Malacca.
A key reason why China has not been able to grow too powerful is the looming threat that democratic and fair powers like India and Australia and other Southeast Asian nations are well-positioned to cut-off Chinese supply lines in event of a major military confrontation by creating a blockade around the Strait of Malacca.
However, if a trustworthy nation like India was to be on board to construct the canal, the deal could be mutually profitable for both the countries and in turn, the new world order. Therefore, the renewed interest from the Thai side is being seen as an indication that apart from China, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is willing to go with any other country.
The Quad has sensed this as an opportunity to exercise more influence in the region and hence has taken the road less traveled. And it seems like the ‘superpower group’ is willing to talk back to China in its own language.
With India already flexing its muscles in the Andaman Islands, China could be given a double whammy if India or its allies had control of the Kra canal.
If completed, the 135-kilometer long canal will connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea, providing a short-cut for vessels to navigate between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
The perennial dream of China to become an ‘expansionist mogul’ in the area would be blown into smokes if New Delhi, Washington, or Canberra get hold of the geo-strategically important deal. Within a matter of months, China’s glee has been turned into sorrow and more misery is sure to come its way.